We're no longer posting to this blog but you can find BBC SSO related posts and content on the Scotland's Music blog which covers classical, folk, jazz, rock, pop, and electronic music.
"Tell your own story". That's what Donald said. Saying something like that to 107 players, while each is struggling to get the notes right, in the right order and at the same time, might seem a tad rash. Anyway, I'm not sure how many of us clocked it......maybe I'm making a meal of it. What was he getting at? We can assume he was trying to bring the music to life - which is what rehearsals are for - and obviously at that moment he felt we were sounding boring (Nous, ennuyeux!). He didn't exactly clarify things later when he said, "I love that slight untidiness". What's he want - for us all to start thrashing around doing our own thing? This is my cue for a rant: if we're playing the right notes, and playing them well, what makes one version of the same notes so different from another? What's the difference between fizzing inspiration and untidy incompetence?
This island is jumping with music, and not just the music that's taking place in the festival. I mean the music that takes place here all the time. Today I gave some master-classes at the Orkney Grammar school with Mark O'Keefe the principle trumpet in the SSO and I wasblown away. The commitment of the teachers and the vibrancy of the music department was just so inspiring and as a result, the level of musicianship on this island is prolifically high. While we taught, there was a constant Birtwistle-like experience of surround sound coming from all the other classes taking place within the department. Everywhere, kids just playing with music. Getting their hands into the earth and just having fun. I heard tunes I knew being given different treatments by children in an environment where they were allowed to experiment but where they also had the guidance of a teaching staff of such skill and dedication it made me wish I had grown up here as a child. It's left me excited and inspired beyond any expectation I could have had.