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Simone Byrne Simone Byrne | 10:45 UK time, Monday, 21 June 2010

The Royal Quartet and Ewa Kupiec

The Royal Quartet and Ewa Kupiec


Jamie MacDougall and the Classics Unwrapped team broadcast the show live from Kirkwall with the musicians of St. Magnus Festival, including pianist Ewa Kupiec, The Royal String Quartet and Will Conway. Producer Dominic Jewel has written a post about the event:

As a child, one of my favourite days out involved visiting a windmill at an open-air museum not far from our house.

I would look up at its idle sails, dreaming of more laid-back times when the pace of life was governed by the movement of stones and the grinding of grain - where, doubtless, ruddy-cheeked folk of good spirits lay happily about on haystacks soaking up the sun.

If ever there was a place to rediscover the harmony between stone and grain- between man and nature - Orkney is it.

From the Ring of Brodgar, where a stone age circle that was probably more of a community centre than an obscure site of ritual, towers over ancient farmland, to Skara Brae where kitchen cupboards older than the pyramids are open to the sky, this is a place to come and imagine.

pianist Ewa Kupiec at the Ring of Brodgar

pianist Ewa Kupiec at the Ring of Brodgar


Imagine what it was like to work in the fields, totally dependent on the weather and unable to pop down to Tescos if the harvest failed. To know the quiet sounds of the land before the combustion engine overpowered them. To fish for fresh seafood without the risk of exceeding your quota, and to grind wheat or barley with the simple power of the wind.

Ah the wind. A little fault with my fantasy there: if the windmills of my mind were powered by an Orkney wind, these would not be lazy times of laying about on haystacks - you'd be loading up grain faster than you could imagine as the wheels span crazily around churning out more and more flour- a sort of Sorcerer's Apprentice of the mill. Because it is windy here - make no mistake about it - a place of windmills for sure, but these produce electricity not flour. And I bet they could keep the National Grid going single-handed.

As for ruddy-cheeked good spirits, though - they're here in abundance and not unconnected with grain, either: barley has been put to its very finest uses here with some considerable skill.

As a matter of fact I'm about to go and sample some of Orkney's finest - only I don't think I'll get to laze about on a haystack doing so. It would never stand up long enough in this wind.

Producer Dominic Jewel is producer of Classics Unwrapped, BBC Radio Scotland, Sunday 1705 - 1900.

You can hear more St Magnus coverage on BBC Radio 3 from June 28th as part of Afternoon on 3 and also on the BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts.

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