Last Friday 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.
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!
- Myself on Twitter – @karenmca
- Edinburgh City Libraries @talesofonecity and blog http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20012/libraries/178/whats_on_in_libraries (forthcoming events)
- National Library of Scotland @natlibscot and blog http://blog.nls.uk/the-first-edinburgh-musical-festival-of-1815/
- Eleanor Harris @eleanormharris and blog http://www.eleanormharris.co.uk/