The world’s viola greats will meet in St Andrews this week to celebrate the centenary of the birth of viola player Watson Forbes, St Andrews’ most eminent musical son.
Forbesfest, organised jointly by the University of St Andrews and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, will showcase 32 of most talented young viola players from 20 countries around the world as they compete for £3,000 and a performance project with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.
Launching on November 12th at the University’s Younger Hall, highlights of the 4 day festival include a performance by celebrated viola player Michael Kugel, a recital from the Brodsky Quartet and the Rose Street Ensemble and the launch of the Watson Forbes Historic Recordings Project.
The unique competition draws together some of the world’s top musicians, with the judging panel for the prestigious awards including leading international violists Bruno Giuranna, Jerzy Kosmala and Wladimir Kossjanenko as well as Scotland’s own Peter Lissauer, Head of Strings at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and Catherine Marwood, Principal Viola with the Scottish Ensemble.
The competition’s Celebrity Recital will be given by Michael Kugel on the evening of Saturday November 14th . A leading performer and composer, Kugel has appeared as both a soloist and conductor with some of the world’s most celebrated symphony orchestras. He is now Professor of Viola at the Ghent Royal Conservatory in Belgium and the Maastricht Royal Conservatory in the Netherlands.
Organiser Stephen Spackman said “It is wonderful to be able to welcome Michael Kugel, the Rostropovich of the Viola, to St Andrews. It is only the third time he has played in Britain, and this is an extraordinary opportunity to hear one of the very greatest virtuosos of our day, who will also be a particular inspiration to our many competitors.”
For the younger generation, the Inspiration Medal competition will be held at St Leonard’s School after visits to 12 primary schools across Fife this month. Children were taught about the viola and learnt how to make scorecards, and will now get a chance to take part in the wider festival and competition in the event on Saturday November 14th . Even ‘The Great Kugel’, as he is now known in schools across Fife, may call in to offer some encouragement.
Following the competition’s final round and awards ceremony, the ’40 Viola Surprise’ will form Forbesfest’s finale, as all participants be they competitors, students, audience members or visitors play a new arrangement for 40 violas with parts for all ages and abilities.
The piece has been composed for the occasion by Richard Ingham, Composer in Residence at the University of St Andrews, whose new piece for solo viola will also feature in the Forbesfest programme as part of the recital by Michael Kugel.
One of the most celebrated British instrumentalists of his generation, Watson Forbes played for thirty years with one of Britain’s foremost string quartets, and rounded off his career with a decade as Head of Music at BBC Scotland from 1964 to 1974.
For the full Forbesfest programme, and for all competition details please see the Forbesfest website at www.st-andrews.ac.uk/forbesfest. Tickets for all events are available online or from the University of St Andrews Music Centre.
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