First published in The Herald on 4 March, 2015
The Cottier Chamber Project announced its fifth summer programme last night, and once more this industrious little festival with scant funds and a just-about-full-time staff of two has magicked up a rather fine lineup. With 56 events across three weeks and several venues, here’s proof of what can be strung together on good will, brazen chutzpah and a Creative Scotland grant of £30,000.
The programme includes artists who grace substantially more lucrative festivals at home and abroad: pianists Steven Osborne, Alasdair Beatson and Susan Tomes; violinists Alexander Janiczek and Catherine Manson, not to mention the star Canadian soloist James Ehnes (who performs with Osborne in a programme they take to London’s Wigmore Hall the following night). There are several Scottish ensembles — the contemporary music outfit Red Note, the superb baroque collective Ensemble Marsyas and Glasgow’s early music renegades Concerto Caledonia — as well as lunchtime song recitals, late-night jazz and a sizeable dance strand. There are still rough edges aplenty and it’s easy to dream of what could be done here with more money, particularly around commissioning new work. But what’s clear from flicking through the festival brochure is that Scottish classical musicians of all career stages have a genuine appetite for this kind of platform for intimate, informal performances close to home.