2017 is Year of History, Archaeology and Heritage in Scotland and more locally it’s designated Magnus 900 (commemorating the 900th anniversary of the death of Saint Magnus) and we’ll be using both “year themes” as triggers for some programming.
Orkney’s connections with Scandinavia (particularly Norway) go without saying and we’ll have a lot of Norwegian visitors including some return visits. The Trondheim Soloists connect our own St Magnus Cathedral with its medieval mother church Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim and with performances shared with the St Olav Festival; the BBC Singers return after their highly successful visit two years ago and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra join us for the first time with their chief conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. We’ll have visits from the Bergen Cathedral Choir as well as Steven Osborne, the Edinburgh Quartet and the Gildas Quartet with, as usual, many new works.
One is a particularly appropriate work being written for community forces on the St Magnus life story by local collaborators Gemma MacGregor (composer) and Ron Ferguson (writer) which will be followed by a Parade through the streets. Another new work looks at the idea of Pilgrimage ranging from its medieval roots to the current migration of people fleeing from war zones or looking for a better life at the end of their pilgrimage.
We’re also continuing our work with young people with special needs and disabled musicians in collaboration with Hear my Music – an ongoing collaboration and strand of work for which the Festival is rightly proud and, as has often been the case in its history, a leader and pioneer.