> East Neuk Festival 2024 announces programme including Julian Bliss, Esther Swift, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

East Neuk Festival 2024 announces programme including Julian Bliss, Esther Swift, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra

East Neuk Festival will make Anstruther a hot-bed of world music, jazz, and trad tunes during 26th-30th June 2024, with some of the town’s quirkiest, and most intimate venues staging concerts by local and international musicians.

The 2024 programme in Anstruther welcomes the return of festival favourites Julian Bliss with his Julian Bliss Septet celebrating the genius of Gershwin, and French bassist and composer Renaud Garcia Fons. Theywill be joined by newcomer Esther Swift who is a contemporary harpist and singer, and Irish fiddle player Aoife ni Bhrian who will perform withEast Neuk regular, harpist Catrin Finch.


Aoife ni Bhrian and Catrin Finch

Anstruther’s music weekend will kick off on Friday 28th June with the premiere of Zulu – a 2024 commission performed in the dramatic setting of the Zulu Gallery at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. Harpist and composer Esther Swift will work with multi-instrumentalist and music tutor Callum Macleod and 15 young local musicians to create this new piece which will tell the story of the Zulu fishing fleets which were once ubiquitous to the East of Scotland.

The Museum’s collection houses the last remaining first-class Zulu boat in Scotland, which was constructed in Banff in 1903 and finally decommissioned in 1968. Zulu boats were replaced by steam and diesel powered boats after the end of World War One and, as a result, many were left to rot on the shore – something which is still visible up-and-down the East Neuk coast. 

Zulu will be performed in the museum’s gallery, evoking stories of the boats and the communities that depended on them for fishing, the storms they weathered and the lives they led on land and at sea.

Esther Swift

Other events over the weekend include Aoife ni Bhrian and Catrin Finch – a dazzling duo famed for their virtuosity and musical freedom, spanning traditional and classical heritage, and new musical vistas; and fans of legendary bassist Renaud Garcia Fons will be able to hear him unplugged on Friday until late, and again with his latest work Luna de Seda (Silk Moon) on Saturday afternoon.

Performing with a quartet of musicians from around the Mediterranean (Spain, Turkey, and France) audiences can expect to hear bass, flamenco guitar, qanun and kemenche which offer a beautifully rich tapestry of reflective, dance-like, jazzy, soulful and funky songs.

Finally, Anstruther’s weekend of music comes to a close on Saturday with a night of free-flowing, high-spirited swing from Julian Bliss and his Septet of top notch bass, piano, rhythm, guitar, trumpet, vibes and – of course – clarinet, celebrating Gershwin’s hits.

Music fans can also enjoy an outstanding classical programme of music performed by, three acclaimed string quartets – the Doric, Pavel Haas and (making their UK debut) the remarkable young Scandinavians Opus 13; the Belfiato Wind Quintet; pianists Hisako Kawamura and Boris Giltburg; internationally acclaimed harpist Margret Köll, and recorder virtuoso Stefan Temmingh.

Plus, on Sunday 30th June broadcaster, musician and composer Neil Brand (piano) will be accompanying an hour of slapstick golf-themed silent films featuring Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin and Keaton.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra led by its Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev will bring the festival to a close with works by Beethoven, Mozart, and an on-the-spot created fantasia.

East Neuk Festival runs from 26th-30th June 2024


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