AN AWARD-WINNING music festival returns tomorrow (Friday) with “its most ambitious programme to date”.

The Lammermuir Festival runs to September 23, with 14 different venues the length and breadth of East Lothian the settings for 28 concerts, featuring a host of song, opera, new commissions, chamber, orchestral and choral music performed by top international and UK artists, as well as some new names on the scene.

The list of musicians includes The Dunedin Consort, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Opera, the Danish String Quartet, international mezzo Anna Stephany, a huge community opera in Dunbar, Red Note Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, artist in residence Mark Simpson, and many more.

James Waters and Hugh Macdonald, artistic directors, said: “This year’s festival is an intoxicating mix of old and new both in performers and the music they play.

“Clarinettist and composer Mark Simpson is an extraordinary musical personality as artist in residence and his involvement has sparked a programme ranging from Stockhausen to Schütz and presenting some of our favourite artists as well as featuring some thrilling festival debuts.

“We have had a lot of fun planning it and really look forward to sharing it with our audiences.”

Following the huge success of the 2016 community opera in Dunbar (Noye’s Fludde, also by Britten), the Lammermuir Festival has commissioned a new community opera for 2018.

An Cadal Trom by Matthew Rooke features some 150 performers from Dunbar and across the county, a host of volunteers, and professional musicians, including McOpera (Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland).

Legendary jazz pianist Jason Rebello and classical pianist Alisdair Hogarth are joined by singers, exploring jazz and classical influences on a whole host of music from Schubert, Schumann, Strauss and Ravel to Great American Songbook songs like Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Artist in residence 2018 Mark Simpson appears both as composer and clarinet soloist in three concerts: firstly with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto and then with Red Note Ensemble in works by Simpson himself and John Adams, ending with Adams’ clarinet concerto Gnarly Buttons.

He concludes his residency directing and playing with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Winds in one of Mozart’s masterpieces The Gran Partita.

There are also three new venues: Loretto School’s theatre in Musselburgh, Pencaitland Parish Church, and Fountainhall, a 16th-century mansion, where there will be an intimate clavichord recital by one of Britain’s leading baroque players Julian Perkins.

A number of the Lammermuir Festival concerts are being recorded by the BBC for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from October 9 to 12.

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, said: “Lammermuir Festival’s programme spans centuries and styles, from sparkling early music to dynamic contemporary works that have only just leapt from the composer’s pen.

“It’s great to see so many favourite artists making a return visit but also to welcome performers who will play here for the first time, ready to be embraced by the passionate East Lothian audiences.

“Lammermuir has a refreshingly international outlook, attracting big names from beyond our borders, but also knows how well Scotland’s talented musicians and composers fit into that worldview.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see Matthew Rooke’s new opera project drawing local communities into the fabric of this vibrant festival.”

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