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Popular musicians return for Haddo Arts Festival


By Kirsty Brown

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Musicians and performers are excited for the return of Haddo Arts Festival, even if it may look a little different to previous years.

Musicians, like everyone else, have been observing restrictions throughout the pandemic which has meant that coming together to play ensemble after many months apart is both an immense pleasure and perhaps a challenge.

Great ensemble playing requires an empathy and understanding born of close association and harmony and how do you rediscover that intimacy after months, or even years, apart?

With great pleasure, according to Nicolette Moonen of The Bach Players whose concert All Bach, recorded at Haddo House Hall in July, is to be streamed online on Saturday October 9 to open the Haddo Arts Festival.

She said: “On March 7 2020 the Bach Players played what would turn out to be our last concert in 2020.

"We didn’t know at that time that we would only get back together to play and perform in July 2021.

"And what a joy it has been - as if we never stopped playing together.”

Traditional Scottish music makers, The Whistlebinkies have been playing together for well over 40 years but when the eight current members met to record a programme of reels, hornpipes, jigs, marches and traditional and modern Scottish music for Haddo Arts 10th Anniversary Festival, it was the first time they had gathered in well over a year.

"There may have been some unfamiliar nerves beforehand but as Whistlebinkie harpist Rhona MacKay discovered: "It was pure joy to be playing again with my fellow musicians - particularly in such welcoming and lovely surroundings."

Whistlebinkies.
Whistlebinkies.

The pleasure was not just in making music again in front of a live audience, albeit necessarily smaller and appropriately distanced.

Continuing, Nicolette said: “Coming to Haddo was so special for us.

"Not only did we play together again, but we shared our meals and our train journey.

"Never will we take these simple pleasures of sharing music and meals for granted again.”

Both groups found if there were any nerves, they were instantly swept away by the sheer joy of performing together live again.

Music and the arts are best when a shared experience, and anyone can experience the joy, exuberance and music in the online festival which is streamed on the Haddo Arts YouTube from October 9-16.

Full details of all events can be found on the Haddo Arts website www.haddoarts.com.

You can catch the Bach Players performance All Bach on Saturday and The Whistlebinkies close the festival on October 16.

A happy return to live performance in the special atmosphere of Haddo House Hall, was summed up by Rab Wallace, the Whistlebinkies’ piper, when he said: "We were very grateful for the opportunity to play at such a wonderful venue as Haddo once more.

"The acoustic lends itself to traditional music and its warmth was reflected in the audience’s welcome.

"There could be no better place to return to live music after such a difficult period for all musicians."


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