Tag Archives: Edinburgh

East-West, Public-Academic: Scottish Music Librarians Collaborate

Last FridayDSC_0025 (800x532) saw me giving a bicentennial talk about the First Edinburgh Musical Festival, at Edinburgh Central Library.  This was a collaboration between myself, Bronwen and Anne, the librarians responsible for music services there.  They handled the ticketing and the venue, and also mounted a display of relevant publications.  I did my research in Glasgow and travelled through to Edinburgh for the day, to give my talk.  Edinburgh historian Eleanor Harris kindly shared her transcriptions of Caledonian Mercury columns with me, and I drew upon these as well as the festival report written by a youthful George Farquhar Graham.

Account of the First Edinburgh Musical Festival (via NLS Digital Gallery)

Almut, our counterpart in the National Library of Scotland, put on a complementary exhibition on her side of George IV Bridge! Remarkably, the exhibitions had picked out different material for display, so the audience was encouraged to take a look at both.

My talk included a couple of Handel soundtracks, and two excerpts of long-forgotten pieces that I had unearthed to play on the Clavinova.  (That was the most nerve-wracking bit.  I don’t claim to be a recitalist!)

As I mentioned before, by sheer good luck, I was able to go on a guided tour of Parliament House (the old one), the morning of my talk.  It made all the difference to have stood in the hall and imagined it ready for the very first concert, complete with organ imported from Covent Garden for the week.

31 people attended my talk, and the feedback was very positive; astonishingly, they even liked my playing!  In my 27 years in Scotland, I had never collaborated with Edinburgh Central Library before, but it was a triumphant success.  I do hope we get to repeat the experiment again some time!Edinburgh City Library Exhibition


Edinburgh next! Music Festivals Galore

This Friday, it’s my talk at Edinburgh Central Library to celebrate the Bicentenary of the First Edinburgh Musical Festival.  The paper is written, the powerpoint prepared, I’m polishing my performance and raring to go!

I’m so excited to have today arranged to go on a guided tour of Parliament Hall, the morning before my talk.  That’s where the first festival sacred concerts were performed, and I get to stand inside and see exactly (well, as exactly as 200 years will allow) what the audience and performers saw thenI’m thrilled!  It’ll be great to have the venue in my mind’s eye as I give my talk.

A month later, I’ll be back in Edinburgh again, this time for the Scots Fiddle Festival, where I’ll be talking about ‘Fiddle books by the dozen’ – a retrospective look at my part in the Bass Culture project, and telling fiddlers what they can expect when the Historic Music of Scotland website goes live.

I have some more tentative plans for further lectures/seminars in the new year, but nothing finalised yet.  I’d better get weaving on responding to a couple of calls for papers.  There are barely enough hours in my day!