The Festival welcomes new leadership in 2015 with a brand new Creative Team. Miriam Iorwerth takes the helm as Festival Chairperson, while artistic directorship is shared by clarinettist Becky Milne, and cellist Duncan Strachan.
It is truly an honour to be taking over as a director of this marvellous festival. The Loch Shiel festival has been an inspiration to me, growing up in Lochaber. Year on year I have attended the festival; first as a young boy in the audience, utterly in awe of the performers; then as a student, having the wonderful opportunity to perform alongside professional musicians,; and then as a professional myself, being immersed in the wonderful chamber music making that happens, year after year, at this Festival. To take the next step and become part of the team that runs and programmes the festival, not only seemed a logical step but also an enormous honour, and a dream opportunity.
Our first festival, Strings in Nature, promises to be a meeting of all the things that Loch Shiel and the surrounding area represent to me - there is such a wealth and tradition of string playing, both traditional and classical, in this area. Having grown up on it, it influences all that I do now. So, we're really excited to be inviting a host of string players to the festival - a mixture of established artists like cellist Robert Irvine and bassist Christopher Sergeant, alongside more up-and-coming ensembles, such as The Maxwell Quartet and violinists Liam Lynch, and Rachel Spencer. To reflect what is inspirational about Loch Shiel, we've chosen three composers who have the natural world at the heart of all they do as composers. Two of my favourite living composers are based in Scotland, Sally Beamish and Edward McGuire. They both take a great interest in the traditional music and culture of Scotland and their work is imbued with that influence - it couldn't be more perfect for the dramatic natural landscape of the festival. Our featured composer is Antonin Dvorak - a man whose life and work was driven by a deep love affair with his homeland of Czech Bohemia. I can already hear Dvorak's music reflecting off the dark water of the loch, and roaming around the hills that rise up from its shores - but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating! I hope I'm right, and you can come and find out for yourself on the 8th of May!