Summer Music began at the instigation of the late Mr David Liddell-Grainger, who invited Music-Makers to organise a series of concerts and a summer school at Ayton Castle, his family seat in Berwickshire. The last major work of James Gillespie Graham, Scotland’s leading Gothic-revival architect, Ayton is an impressive baronial-style castle of red sandstone, glimpsed by road or rail just north of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Despite its imposing appearance and sumptuous interiors, it has the charm and intimacy of a family home.
The first Summer Music at Ayton Castle in July 1995 combined a daytime summer school for young musicians, accommodated within the castle and its out-buildings, with a festival of evening concerts. The summer school offered classes in violin, cello, piano and chamber music to advanced music students and aimed to foster learning in a climate of relaxed openness, free from competition and examinations.
The intimacy of the Drawing Room of Ayton Castle provided the ideal setting for small-scale chamber music, while first-class artists ensured performances of the highest standard. With fine food and a relaxing, rural location added to the mix, the magical experience of ‘Summer Music’ was born.
Summer Music’s artistic reputation and popularity quickly increased under the direction of Gusztáv Fenyő and Susanne Stanzeleit. Ayton’s proximity and fast road and rail links to major centres, such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, also ensured a rapidly growing audience.
After only three festivals, it was apparent that another venue with a similar ambience but capable of accommodating a larger audience was required. Paxton House, just ten miles south, with its elegant Picture Gallery, proved to be the ideal solution.
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