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5 things that make Mendelssohn on Mull a magical music festival! 4th to 8th of July

5 things that make Mendelssohn on Mull a magical music festival! 4th to 8th of July
If you love music, wild landscapes and spectacular venues, then the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival is for you. This critically acclaimed Scottish chamber music festival brings together promising young musicians with professional mentors for a week of musical exploration and performance on the beautiful Hebridean island of Mull. Here are five things that make it a magical musical experience.

1. The inspiration for the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival comes from the wild beauty that drew composer Mendelssohn to this region of Argyll and inspired his music. Mendelssohn visited Mull, Iona and Staffa in 1829. Staffa, an uninhabited island near Mull, is best known for its spectacular sea caves. The most famous is Fingal’s Cave, also known as An Uamh Binn (Cave of Melody), immortalised by Mendelssohn in his renowned Hebrides Overture. It’s this link between music and nature, and the inspiration that can be found in the landscape, that is at the heart of Mendelssohn on Mull.

2. The festival was founded by the violinist Leonard Friedman in 1988. He had been working with some of Scotland’s most accomplished young musicians and took a small group to Mull to work intensively with professionals in stunning natural surroundings. The idea stuck and the festival was born. It’s a simple, but transformational concept. The musicians work together intensively, far from the stresses of day-to-day life, and then perform a series of free concerts in venues across Mull and Iona.

3. Over the years, the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival has become a truly international meeting place for the most brilliant young musicians from across the world. Talent from Norway, Greece, Denmark, Armenia, Turkey, USA, Estonia, Sweden and Holland have come to Mull to take part in this unique event alongside their British peers.

4. The concert venues are a big part of the festival’s magic. Scattered across Mull and Iona, they include the beautiful Iona Abbey, Duart Castle’s stunning Great Hall and the tiny Creich Church which is set beside a windswept loch. Creich seats perhaps 50 people at most, and the performances here are wonderfully intimate. You are so close you can almost touch the performers! Duart Castle, meanwhile, has a unique setting. This impossibly romantic Scottish castle stands on a cliff top guarding the Sound of Mull. And a concert in the Iona Abbey, one of Scotland’s most sacred sites, is an unforgettable experience.

5. Many people find the atmosphere at the concerts deeply moving. Natalie Wheen, a Classic FM broadcaster, said: ‘I have never been part of an audience so undone by music. Nor seen players so affected.’ Many of the musicians have never met before, and they rehearse together all day in church halls and guest houses for the performance at night. The atmosphere is intimate and intense, but relaxed and inclusive. As a member of the audience, you’ll feel part of the musical alchemy that’s being created. The festival also includes a children's concert. Over 40 local kids attend monthly workshops throughout the year where they're taught by visiting tutors, culminating in this annual concert showcasing their work.

There’s so much to see and do on Mull, from exploring the island’s sparkling sands to discovering its rich cultural life. If you’d like to visit Staffa, a number of boat operators run trips from Iona and Mull. Approaching by boat you'll get a real sense of the epic scale and wild beauty of the place.

Find out more about things to see and do on Mull, Iona, Coll & Tiree.

Photos courtesy of Mendelssohn on Mull Festival.
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Kids' Concert - Laura MandlebergRehearsing at Glengorm Castle - Laura MandlebergPerformance at Iona Abbey - Kevin Laitak
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