THE Lammermuir Festival returns this week with a rich and ambitious programme of ‘beautiful music in beautiful places’.

The festival runs from today (Thursday) to next Monday (September 19), featuring 35 live performances at 16 venues across East Lothian.

This year’s festival features the return of the Coffee Concerts at Holy Trinity Church in Haddington.

Split into two sections, the first will feature internationally acclaimed Scottish accompanist Malcolm Martineau, who has devised four programmes in partnership with BBC Radio 3. Over the course of four concerts, Martineau performs all 16 of Henri Duparc’s romantic songs, accompanied by major singers Jennifer Johnston, Joshua Ellicott, Sarah Fox and James Newby (pictured below).

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

The second half of the concert series features festival debuts for pianist Till Fellner, performing Beethoven and Schubert, violinist Viviane Hagner playing Bach, and French oboist Armand Djikoloum playing Tchaikovsky, Britten and Poulenc, in addition to returning Lammermuir Festival favourite Danny Driver.

Local baker Falko the Konditormeister has even created a brand new cake for the festival to serve at these Coffee Concerts.

In Scottish Opera’s 60th anniversary season, it will perform a semi-staged performance of operatic rarity Massenet’s Thérèse (1907), its Scottish premiere today (Thursday) at St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington. Conducted by Anu Tali, this passionate two-act opera set during the French Revolution stars one of today’s most exciting singers, soprano Justina Gringytė.

American pianist Jeremy Denk, the festival artist in residence 2021, returns for five performances, beginning with an eclectic programme featuring Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit and Missy Mazzoli’s Heartbreaker at Dunbar Parish Church today. In a friendship born at the 2021 festival, he is reunited with violinist Maria Włozczowska on Tuesday to perform all six of Bach’s imaginative Duo Sonatas.

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

Jeremy Denk. Image: Robin Mitchell

Jeremy is also reading extracts from his book and illustrating them with piano excerpts – a chance to get to know the artist in residence better.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra makes its festival debut on Saturday, conducted by Rory Macdonald in Sibelius’s 4th symphony and Brahms’s second piano concerto, with Jeremy Denk as soloist.

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

Royal Scottish National Orchestra performing at St Mary's Parish Church. Image: Robin Mitchell

On the same day, The Lure of Hollywood features Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Sophie Daneman, William Dazeley, Neil Brand and Iain Burnside in a concert of film and song around composers who left Germany for Hollywood in the 1930s.

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

The Lure of Hollywood

Conducted by Christopher Bell, the newly formed National Youth Choir of Scotland Chamber Choir makes its debut live performance on Sunday. The choir delivers a diverse programme featuring James MacMillan’s haunting a cappella Culham Motets, Caroline Shaw’s And the Swallow and Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia.

The Dunedin Consort returns for its 13th consecutive year at the festival next Sunday (September 18). John Butt will lead the Consort through Mozart’s unfinished ‘Great’ Mass in C minor K427: the cast includes sopranos Lucy Crowe and Anna Dennis.

This year’s line-up brings a number of new artists to the Lammermuir Festival, including Baroque ensemble Spiritato, which will make its festival debut on Tuesday, playing alongside The Marian Consort for a performance of uplifting choral music from the soul of the 17th and 18th centuries.

French ensemble The Quatuor Agate (pictured below) makes its Scottish debut at Gladsmuir Church (September 17) in the first of its two appearances at the festival, centred around Brahms’s String Quartets.

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

Lammermuir Festival favourites Quatuor Mosaïques return for three concerts of the last three quartets of Haydn and Schubert. On Sunday, they will return to Crichton Collegiate Church, where they last performed in 2019.

Nestled in the Lammermuir Hills at Nunraw, the Cistercian monastery of Sancta Maria Abbey is a festival venue for the first time, hosting the award-winning vocal collective Sansara for a concert celebrating the music of William Byrd (September 16).

Among the atmospheric partial ruins of another new venue, Dunglass Collegiate Church next Sunday (September 18), The Orlando Consort, renowned for its Renaissance and Medieval vocal performances, sings an intimate programme of works, including those by Gilles Binchois and Guilluame Dufay known to be popular with Scottish kings in the 15th century.

Closing the festival next Monday (September 19), Jeremy Denk performs Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto alongside the Royal Northern Sinfonia, conducted by Dinis Sousa, in a celebratory concert opening with the enigma of Ives’s Unanswered Question and ending with Mendelssohn in breezy Mediterranean mood.

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

Laura van der Heijden and Tom Poster are among the performers at the festival. Image: Sam Trench

Hugh Macdonald and James Waters, artistic directors of Lammermuir Festival, said: “We’re delighted to be opening this year’s festival with a line-up of wonderful musicians ready to fill every corner of the county with music.

“American pianist Jeremy Denk captured hearts and minds last year and returns with another astonishing collection of performances. One of the very best string quartets in the world, Quatuor Mosaïques brings its incomparable insight to the music of Schubert and Haydn. Scottish Opera performs a late masterpiece by Massenet, and the exquisite French songs of Henri Duparc form the backbone of our coffee concerts.

“Our musical pilgrimage takes us to the secluded monastery of Sancta Maria at Nunraw for the first time and the ancient Collegiate Church of Dunglass will resonate to 15th-century music sung by the Orlando Consort.These are magical experiences bringing place and musical excellence together to create unforgettable memories. We hope you can join us.”

Quatuor Mosaiques at Whitekirk. Image: Robin Mitchell

Danny Driver is performing at the festival

Paul Bush, VisitScotland director of events, added: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting Lammermuir Festival through our National Events Programme.

“It showcases why Scotland is the perfect stage for events by allowing audiences to come together and enjoy beautiful music in beautiful places.”

Visit lammermuirfestival.co.uk for tickets.