Dornoch & Brora, Scottish Highlands – 24th to 27th July 2009
Following an extremely busy season that saw us perform no less than three Requiem masses, we headed northward to the spectaculor Highlands of Scotland. Our destination was the historic area of Sutherland in the extreme north west of the country and our base was the remarkably captivating coastal town of Dornoch.
Our first day took us to Dunrobin Castle, a fabulous stately home a few miles from Dornoch, set in beautiful grounds and amazing scenery. We paid a visit to the grand house and gardens and took in the falconry display before some of our musicians sampled the delights of the stunning Steinway grand piano. It was then time to return to Dornoch for an afternoon’s rehearsal for the concert that evening at Dornoch Cathedral when we performed two pieces by Scottish composer, James MacMillan, Give Me Justice and Data Est Mihi Omni Potestas; a piece by Henry Purcell, Blessed Are They That Fear The Lord; the haunting Miserere by Gregorio Allegri; as well as a remarkably little-performed mass by Franz Joseph Haydn, the Mariazellermesse. The concert was extremely well-received and we thoroughly enjoyed performing in such a beautiful cathedral.
After a busy first day, we took the opportunity for some well-earned leisure time by taking in a visit to the Glenmorangie Whisky Distillery in Tain. The guided tour was most enlightening and the free sample at the end of it was more than welcome. However, we had to retain our sobriety as we headed up to Brora later that day to begin rehearsals for our second concert. The Church of Scotland in the town is a charming and intimate venue and the welcome we received from the townspeople was overwhelming. We had been led to believe that there would be “refreshments” after the performance but we were amazed at the extensive array of homemade hospitality on offer; it was incredibly touching and something that we will never forget.