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Performer: Navarra String Quartet

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The land of the free: European exiles in America with the National Youth Orchestra

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain brought a small dose of the Southbank Centre’s year long celebration of 20th-century music, The Rest is Noise, to the North East, with a programme of bold and colourful music written by European exiles in America, music that looked to the future, and music that celebrated the best of what had been left behind.
****1
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Lammermuir Festival: Haydn by candlelight

Stars of Lammermuir’s 2011 Musical Journey, the Navarra Quartet returned for two 2012 dates. The first of their engagements featured a single Haydn work: The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross (1787).The prospect of seven slow movements, framed by “Introduzione” and “Il Terremoto” (“Earthquake”) might strike some as a marathon.
****1
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Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and Sufjan Stevens: Planetarium

The concert was divided into two clear parts; the first included string quartet pieces by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens, and the other half consisted of Planetarium, a multi-dimensional song-cycle for string quartet, trombones, piano, celesta, synthesizer, drums, drum machine, guitar and voice.
***11
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A Musical Journey III

The final leg of Lammermuir Festival's Musical Journey brought us within a few metres of the shore, to the church of St. Andrew Blackadder and to arguably the most challenging programme of the day. Contemplation of the end of life informed each piece and the contrasting circumstances, responses and outcomes could be heard in the music.
*****
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A Musical Journey I

A Musical Journey is, in effect, a bonsai version of the Lammermuir Festival: beautiful music, beautiful places and, on this particular occasion, beautiful weather.

A Musical Journey II

A place of pilgrimage for centuries, St. Mary's Church, Whitekirk, overlooks fields – blonde and cropped at this time of year. The acoustic in this concert was, for me, the Lammermuir Festival's most magical match of medium and venue. The Navarra Quartet resonated richly, without in any way compromising clarity.