Wow the time has flown by! We are more than halfway through our Scotland adventure and the days are seeming to fly by. We started our Monday traveling to Ayr where we got to see the Culzean Castle. The castle has a suite that was reserved for Dwight Eisenhower and is located right on the Atlantic Ocean! We got to play an informal pop up concert on a little stage in the town square and rocked our acoustic set! The students then got free time in the castle before we traveled into town for our soundcheck before the concert. We opened the show this time and got to see a new guest in Scottish locals Innovation. They are a 9 piece celtic fiddle ensemble who played a very high energy set. We ended the night with a grand finale of "Skye Boat Song." With all the groups
Today was a complete tourist day! We traveled to Edinburgh and got a 1 hour guided tour by bus to see the main landmarks and then got 3 hours of free time on the Royal mile. Students and adults go to grab lunch and then see the sights, shop for souvieneers and take in some great views in the sandstone city. Tomorrow is our last day and will conclude with a big Gala performance in Perth!
As we go through our time here at the festival, the days get more and more action packed. Saturday had BEAUTIFUL weather. It was our first day of full sun in Scotland and it matched perfectly with our trip to the Alva Highland Games. We watched a variety of athletic events including the children's hill climb where they run up a mountain and back! We then moved on to to Edinburgh for our first full formal concert of the festival. After our sound check, the students got to see where JK Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books and the grave stones where many of the character names where devised. The concert was absolutely PHENOMENAL! All the groups sounded great and our grand finale, bagpipes and all, was a huge hit.
Sunday was more traditional Scottish weather: Rain. We did a full day tour of the Highlands stopping several times to see points of interest including, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Neptune's Staircase, and Glenfinnen Viaduct. The kids pushed forward through the rain and had a good time exploring some of the most beautiful landscapes that this country has to offer. A highlight for many was Neptune's Staircase, a system of 9 locks, that carry boats down 100 feet between two lakes. We actually got to see the locks in action which was really a neat sight! The students also enjoyed seeing the Glennfinnen Viaduct which is the long train bridge seen carrying the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. We were even lucky enough to watch an actual steam train go across while we were photographing!
On the docket for tomorrow is a trip to the Atlantic coast town of Ayr and Culzean Castle! We'll play two concerts and see a new side of the beautiful country. As always for more photos and videos, check our Facebook Page LHS Strolling Strings!
We've had a very busy couple of days! Thursday began after a much needed night's sleep in rehearsal with Artistic Director Dean Marshall. He focused a lot on stage presence and his enthusiasm for music is quite infectious! We then quickly met two of the other groups that we are performing with, an orchestra from Virginia and a chamber choir from Croatia! We rehearsed mass pieces that we will use as grand finale's throughout the festival.
Our day concluded with a walk to the Stirling Hotel for dinner. We then processed (with Bag Piper and all) to the Church of Rude for the opening ceremony of the festival. The "mayor" of Stirling spoke and the Crotian Choir performed for us all. Their performance of 3 Croatian songs was truly remarkable.
Good Evening from Stirling! We all made it successfully to Stirling after and after being awake for most of the past 36 hours. We traveled on two planes and two buses along with a lot of walking contributing to some tired kids and adults. The highlights of today were arriving safely, getting moved into our dorm accommodations and a hike up to the William Wallace Monument.
We enjoyed a renactor telling the tail of William Wallace's stunning defeat of British Forces and climbed the thousand (might have been an exaggeration..) steps up to the top of the monument for some truly stunning views of this beautiful country.
Tomorrow is a musical day as we start rehearsals with some new gear and get to play with the other ensemble
s in town for the festival. Don't forget to like us on Facebook LHS Strolling Strings and follow us on twitter/instagram @strollinglhs
This is my first of what will be probably around 10 blog posts document Strolling's upcoming trip to Scotland as a part of the Stirling International Arts Festival. We'll be in Scotland from July 5th-13th playing concerts and seeing the sights as part of an international exchange of young musical talent. I'm going to try and post daily with photos and updates on our whereabouts and activities. For more, like us on facebook at LHS Strolling Strings or follow us on twitter/instagram @strollinglhs