"There's no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, only inappropriate clothing" Billy Connolly
The wind blows on Orkney. I had forgotten just how much the elements influence life up here. Walking the sheltered streets all built to protect you from the prevailing winds gives you a kind of false sense of security until you turn a corner and some ancient screaming North Easterly tries to remove any article of loose clothing you haven't strapped down thoroughly. The first time it happened to me today, my sunglasses were whipped off, my jacket almost stripped from my body and my shirt blew up over my face all in less than a second. One moment I was admiring the beauty of the cathedral with its wind sculptured surface, the next I was locked in an embarrassing battle with an invisible enemy intent on removing most of my clothes. I wrestled my shirt back down and bending over to retrieve my sunglasses, presented the elements with an altogether more attractive target. Before I knew what was happening, my jacket was blown over my head and had transformed me into some sort of human kite. Somehow, and with the help of some elderly passers by, I managed to retreat round the corner where I tried to find some dignity and plan an alternative route home.
Having developed a strategy for my journey to this evening's concert, which involved staying close to the walls and a rather odd side ways walk, it turned out to be unnecessary. The sun had come out once more and the wind satisfied in my humiliation had gone in search of another victim. The streets were moving with people all on their way to the various concerts about Kirkwall and I realised that one of the great things about coming here is that you see the community you're playing to. In fact tonight, the orchestra was sitting next to many of its children. The BBC SSO side by side concert involved children from the Orkney Schools Orchestra sitting next to players from the BBC so that we resembled a kind of musical army with extended lines of winds and brass, reinforcements of percussion and string sections trailing off into infinity with bows going in so many different directions. It must have looked like some glorious battle re-enactment. The idea behind this was to give the children the experience of playing with a professional orchestra where they could absorb the feeling of belonging to such a large group and also realise in themselves how much they were contributing to it. Steven Bell, with this infectious enthusiasm and members of the orchestra, ensured that enjoyment of playing was the most important aspect for the children.
From there, I found myself many hours later sitting in the festival club listening to the extraordinarily intimate and beautiful playing of Alistair Savage and his Trio which brought my mind and soul to a stillness that echoed within me as I walked the quiet and thankfully wind free streets back home.
Principal Second Violin