Haddo Arts Festival 2023

6-10 October 2023

Haddo Arts Festival 2023 took place over a slightly different format this year, essentially a log weekend rather than Saturday to Saturday. We invited back some old friends and found some new ones!

Haddo 2023 Events poster Email

Baroque specialists Red Priest opened this year’s Haddo Arts Festival in lively fashion on Friday 6 October Their exuberant interpretation of music by Bach, Handel, Telemann and, of course, the red priest himself, Vivaldi, thrilled an enthusiastic audience. Piers Adams, the virtuoso recorder player, was delighted to be back in Haddo House Hall as part of their first tour since the pandemic: “Fantastic to perform again at Haddo! What a great venue and audience!”

On Saturday 7 October, Haddo House Choral & Operatic Society (HHCOS), accompanied by the Haddo Orchestra gave a tremendous performance of Mozart’s Requiem, to a sell out audience and in the presence of HHCOS Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Soloists Amy Strachan, Faith Ockley, Liam Forrest and Ross Cummings were all in fine voice, ably supported by the chorus. The Requiem was preceded by Schubert’s enchanting Mass in G and Purcell’s Chaconny.

Ten Feet Tall Theatre and Frozen Charlotte delighted families on Sunday afternoon with two performances of their “Wee Tales @Haddo”, an interactive storytelling piece specifically designed to introduce younger children to experiencing theatre. Although originally aimed at 2-6 year olds, the audience ranged from babies to pre-teens plus parents, all of whom actively engaged with the performance.

We were delighted to host an exhibition of the winning entries in the David & June Gordon Memorial Trust’s primary schools’ art competition. This was open in the Mobil Room before each event in the Hall and from 10.00 am – 12.30 pm on Sunday, attracting some

This year’s innovations included a Peatyards Picnic before the Red Priest concert, offering audience members the opportunity to have a convivial gathering before the concert, with bring your own picnic.

Our second innovation was Monday’s lunchtime recital, with doors open for tea, coffee and cake beforehand. Romanian-born pianist Cristiana Achim made her Scottish debut with a programme ranging from Mozart through Schumann and Debussy to finish with a dazzling rendition of Ginastera’s Sonata for Piano No.1, op.22.  Cristiana has strong links to the North East of Scotland, as her tutor at the Royal College of Music is Nigel Clayton, himself a former performer during Haddo Arts Festival and visiting professor of piano at North East Scotland Music School (NESMS), so we were delighted to welcome her to Haddo.

On Monday afternoon the David & June Gordon Lecture was given by Philip Long OBE FRSE, Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland.  Titled “The Love of Scotland”, his illustrated talk was full of fascinating insights into the many ways in which Scotland’s history, landscapes and places have inspired artists, designers, writers and poets across the centuries.

We closed on Tuesday 10 October with a marvellous evening of mellow jazz piano. Rossano Sportiello’s programme included improvisations on works from the Great America Songbook by Cole Porter, Nat King Cole, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, as well as a delightful weaving of Tea for Two into a piece by Frédéric Chopin. Rossano clearly loves Haddo: “The acoustic here is so delicious – a perfect combination of good piano, good acoustic and happy audience”.