The 6th Balerno Music Festival opened on 25th September and the curtain came down finally, after over 20 separate events, on 13th October. Scotland’s biggest little music festival keeps getting bigger and better.
Francis Cummings, Director of Music with Sistema Scotland started festival with a talk about the success of Big Noise, and right from there through to Roger Cull’s now traditional jazz party finale, both the pace and the quality were high octane. The Festival welcomed back the Balerno Theatre Company with a ‘Night at the Shows’, while the increasingly strong tradition of music in the community was confirmed the following morning with the Young Musicians Concert when over 30 youngsters performed in public to a large audience in the Parish Church, and the afternoon Fun Time Harmonies repeated the success of last year’s workshop for early primary children. That same evening the Pentland Singers put on Faure’s Requiem, and with less than three hours of rehearsal time Bede Williams conjured a gem of a performance from the scratch choir. At the same time Penny Lane had been entertaining with a Beatles tribute evening in the Bowling Club. There’s lots of choices to be made at the Music Festival.
Almost a week later and the Parish Church were hosting the first of their programme of evening concerts for the festival. The Trumpet and Organ Concert held the audience spellbound as soaring notes echoed round the rafters. Mark O’Keefe and Derek Clark really did make the building sing with Jeremiah Clarke’s TrumpetVoluntary, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, and pieces by Gershwin and Charpentier amongst a varied and inspired programme which drew a long standing ovation. On the same evening Yvonne Lyon made a welcome return to Balerno Bowling Club, featuring songs from her new album “These Small Rebellions”. With poignant lyrics, catchy tunes and a bit of sing along thrown in for good measure the audience were absolutely captivated by her performance. Lots of hard choices to be made at the Music Festival.
On Saturday 5th Infectious Grooves presented African and samba percussion workshops to an appreciative audience while in the evening Balerno Village Screen hosted a singalong screening of Mamma Mia. That was so popular they had to put on an extra screening on the Sunday evening following on from the sell-out visit of Purves Puppets with Magic Land. Music @ The Mill returned for 2013 with lunch time concerts on four days the following week, and once again pupils and students from local primary and secondary schools demonstrated real talent.
On Friday 11th October we again had hard choices to make; Tourie Band or Folk Concert? Arthur Johnstone and the Stars provided the opening set stepping in for Real Time who had had to cancel shortly before the event. They had the audience singing, laughing and clapping all the way through their one hour set. They were followed by Folk Club favourites ‘Gaberlunzie’ – Gordon Menzies and Robin Watson. From the opening line ‘Wha wid ride wi gallant Moray’ the sell out crowd was treated to a kaleidoscope of songs and tunes about Scotland and her history with Robin chipping in with folk treatments of some American pop songs like ‘I’m a believer’. A great night – ‘That’s the kind of folk music I like to hear!’ was one comment overheard as the crowd dispersed.
On Saturday 12th Balerno Busk made its first appearance at the Festival in Main Street at the Farmers Market, and certainly looks as though it will become a firm favourite for repeating next year. And Mr Giggles is certain of another appearance after the success of Pirate Pete at the Bowling Club in the afternoon
The Festival was crowned on Saturday evening with Ani Batikian, accompanied by Roland Roberts, featuring some film favourites such as the Gadfly and the Entertainer and culminating in a superb playing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 in G minor. The sweeping romanticism of the Bruch captured the ear from the start and we were all taken on a grand and passionate journey. Ani Batikian’s playing is simply exquisite, and those who were present were privileged to be witness to a such a captivating Gala Concert.
There were too many jewels in this Festival to do justice to each and everyone in a short article. Festival Praise, in the Parish Church, was a fitting tribute to the role of music in our lives. The service included folk music, jazz, local talent, an expanded church choir and ended with the whole congregation singing Abba’s ‘Thank you for the music’. The Jazz Party – 13th October – is always special, and that is not least because of the quality of musicianship which Roger Cull and friends continue to bring to the annual event, but it is also because the Jazz Party is where it is possible to savour the memory of the Festival and wonder whether, perhaps, it might just be possible to do it all again next year, and see 7 up.
The Festival Society is hugely grateful to all those who help to put on the Festival and equally grateful to all those who support it by coming to the concerts and events, and we would like to say a colossal thank you to everyone for that help and backing .