Preview: East Neuk Festival, Various venues, East Neuk, Fife

Fife strikes up the band
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

According to the festival's founder, Donald MacDonald, the East Neuk churches – some of which even merit entries in the Pevsner guide – make perfect, intimate venues for the chamber music concerts that make up the bulk of the programme. The German conductor and pianist Christian Zacharias is artist-in-residence, and will be playing and lecturing throughout the festival. Schubert and Mozart dominate proceedings.

For Stephen Carter, manager of the St Andrews Bay Hotel, which hosts the closing concert, the festival helps to dispel the perception that the town revolves entirely around students and golf. But it was golf that hooked the conductor Joseph Swensen, who is helming the SCO on the closing night. "I've learnt to play golf from scratch here, on some of the greatest courses in the world," he enthuses.

Swensen leads from his violin in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and conducts Schubert's Symphony No 9 in the atrium of the hotel, whose acoustics, Swensen says, are surprisingly good. Besides, when he's conducting, he's in the best position to enjoy the spectacular view through its striking glass façade.

Over the next couple of years, assuming the public bites, the programme will be extended to about 18 events, including new commissions and jazz concerts. MacDonald was keen to involve as many local entrepreneurs as possible and for Tim Butler, owner of two seafood restaurants, the Trout Quintet (the fifth concert in the series) makes a welcome addition to the dishes he serves up. A fishy business, this music festival.

Today to 3 July (01334 475000; www.eastneukfestival.co.uk)

Comments