The Pavel Haas Quartet (Photo: Marco Borggreve)
The Pavel Haas Quartet (Photo: Marco Borggreve)

East Neuk Festival unveils 2019 programme

The East Neuk Festival returns for its 15th event later this year.

From Wednesday 26 June–Sunday 30 June, the 2019 ENF invites audiences on a musical adventure in beautiful and unique locations along the East Neuk’s picturesque coastline.

Director of the East Neuk Festival, Svend McEwan-Brown, said: ‘ENF is all about relationships: we love when our favourite musicians return, collaborate and take new directions at the festival – this year we are honoured that so many will be presenting special projects unique to us or for the first time.

‘Experimenting is a risky business, and we are proud that artists of such stature trust us to support them as they do it. I believe that the excitement this generates is one of the most important attractions of the festival, and one of the most important contributions we can make to the artistic life of the country.’

Now in its 15th year, ENF continues to be both local and international, and to pursue three key areas of activity, all of which culminate in the festival programme.

Its core programme welcomes the finest artists from across the globe and creates opportunities for them to create unique and ambitious projects especially for ENF in beautiful and intimate locations across the fishing villages and towns of East Neuk’s picturesque coastline.

The festival supports young artists through its ENF Retreat programme and by championing young artists both within its own programme and elsewhere: this year violinist Benjamin Baker and viola player Diyang Mei feature in three concerts. ENF also commissions annual Big Projects: work from leading composers for performance by amateur and professional musicians side by side: Graeme Leak will create this new work in 2019.

The Pavel Haas Quartet (Photo: Marco Borggreve)

Music by Fife composer The Earl of Kellie launches the carefully curated programme spanning the 17th to 21st Centuries: ENF 2019 sees masterpieces from Bach, Dvorák, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Haydn nestled amongst works by Britten, Halvorsen, Jörg Widmann, Helen Grime, Steve Reich, and the world premiere of a new work by Huw Watkins performed by the composer on the piano alongside percussionist Colin Currie.

Unique collaborations remain a mainstay of the festival with artists coming together to create one-of-a-kind musical experiences that can be heard nowhere else.

Pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, the Pavel Haas Quartet and Belcea String Quartet join forces to present a series of five concerts – solo, quartet, quintet and octet. Three ENF regulars appear with their new bespoke ensembles created especially for the festival: Alec Frank-Gemmill and Alexander Janiczek’s Camerata Janiczek perform Mozart and Handel concerti on period instruments, and Peter Whelan’s handpicked Ensemble Marsyas of wind players from all over Europe promises a magnificent performance of Mozart’s Serenade for 13 Winds.

Intimate music making lies at the heart of ENF across the widest range of styles and traditions including the music of Erik Satie paired with the hot jazz of Stéphane Grappelli in a special concert from pianist Euan Stevenson and the Tim Kliphuis Trio, and a late-night performance of Senegalese music by kora master Seckou Keita.

As part of their three-concert residency at the festival, Keita also joins Welsh harpist Catrin Finch for a concert featuring material from their award-winning latest album, SOAR, and Finch closes her stay in East Neuk with a solo recital of music of Debussy, Bach and Piazzolla.

ENF is firmly rooted in its local area of Fife and 2019 features ambitious projects to celebrate and explore the East Neuk’s history and heritage and draw community participants to perform. The Drying Green is a large-scale art installation inspired by the communal drying greens of yesteryear – many of which can still be seen in the villages of East Neuk – set within the beautiful grounds of the National Trust for Scotland’s Kellie Castle.

It culminates in an afternoon of family activities and pop up performances from the Tullis Russell Mills Band. ENF also continues its tradition of bringing together professional artists with amateur and local performers and musicians with renowned Scottish percussionist Colin Currie teaming up with massed percussionists of the East Neuk to perform a set of sea interludes created by Graeme Leak reflecting the craggy coastline of the local area for ENF’s 2019 Big Project.

Colin Currie (Photo: Linda Nylind)

Returning for its fifth year, ENF Retreat runs from 23 – 28 June 2019 and in an evolution of the programme and its relationship with its musicians, two past Retreatants who have gone on to establish internationally celebrated careers since their time at the Retreat – violinist Benjamin Baker and violist Diyang Mei – return to the festival to take part in three concerts in the main festival programme.

Music is always carefully matched to every venue at ENF and following the successful launch of The Bowhouse as an ENF venue over the last two years, the festival presents a full series of concerts at the converted barn located in Anstruther.

Beyond the performances, ENF also offers ways for audiences to get closer to the music and in two special talks, the music critic of The Times, Richard Morrison, discusses the future of music education with John Wallace and asks members of the Belcea and Pavel Haas Quartets for the inside story of what life is like as a member of the world’s top quartets.

ENF founder and chair, Donald MacDonald, said: ‘When we founded ENF in 2004, we wanted to create a unique marriage of a beautiful place and wonderful music. As we launch this 15th festival, I am delighted to note the many different ways that ENF has made itself a part of the East Neuk community since then: in its partnerships with venues, schools and businesses, in its Big Projects that put East Neuk musicians on-stage and in the way it celebrates the history and heritage of this place.

‘It gives the ENF its unique flavour and style and I look forward to sharing 2019’s rich mix of events with our audience from near and far.’

Alec Frank-Gemmill at the East Neuk Festival

Whilst ENF brings the best of international culture to Scotland it also showcases to the rest of the world Scotland’s rich cultural offering. Fantastic internationally-renowned Scottish artists and ensembles take to the stage including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra bringing the festival to a magnificent close, led by conductor Joseph Swensen who returns to ENF for the first time in a decade, and Scottish percussionist Colin Currie making his ENF debut.

ENF’s location is central to its identity and every year it welcomes local residents and wider sections of the community to experience and participate in the festival. As part of his residency at the festival percussionist Colin Currie teams up with massed percussionists of the East Neuk to perform a set of sea interludes reflecting the craggy coastline of the local area created by Graeme Leak for ENF’s 2019 Big Project.

The East Neuk Festival remains committed to nurturing young and emerging talent and its celebrated chamber music seminar, the ENF Retreat, returns this year (23 – 28 June) to offer exceptional young musicians the opportunity to develop their musicianship under the guidance of senior figures in the music world, culminating in a public concert performance during the festival.

Since it was founded, a family of players has been built and the festival’s investment in these young musicians continues beyond their time spent in the week-long seminar. In the ENF Retreat’s fifth year there is an evolution of its programme and a development of its relationship with these talented artists.

From the over 40 young musicians who have attended since 2015, two past Retreatants who have gone on to establish internationally celebrated careers since their time at the Retreat are invited to return and take part in three concerts within the main 2019 Festival programme.

Violinist Benjamin Baker who took part in the very first ENF Retreat and violist Diyang Mei who joined the 2016 ENF Retreat take this next step, giving a duo recital, joining a chamber ensemble performance with the 2019 Retreatants and playing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Benjamin Baker added: ‘I’m really excited to be returning to the East Neuk Festival this year. I feel very lucky to have been introduced to this beautiful part of the world and incredible musical family through the unique ENF Retreat in 2015. Since then it has come to feel like a real musical home; somewhere I can exist and express myself freely.  I can’t wait!’

Selected concerts will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3, bringing the festival’s concerts to a global audience of more than 2 million listeners.

The East Neuk Festival gratefully acknowledges financial support of many private individuals, Trusts and Foundations, and sponsors. It is funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund. The Drying Green is supported by EventScotland’s Beacon Programme. Huw Watkin’s Duo is supported by the PRS Foundation’s Beyond Borders programme. The opening concert is supported by Hedley G Wright.

For full details visit Tickets are available HERE.