In 2008 Music-Makers collaborated with the National Trust for Scotland and the Haddo Arts Trust on a new venture at Haddo House, near Aberdeen.
Designed by William Adam for the 2nd Earl of Aberdeen in 1732 and refurbished in 1880, Haddo House elegantly blends Georgian architecture with sumptuous late-Victorian interiors by Wright and Mansfield. Its fine furniture, paintings and memorabilia provide an insight into four centuries of the Gordon family at Haddo.
Music-Makers was keen to build on the rich musical foundations of Haddo, which had been laid by the late Lady Aberdeen (1913-2009), a graduate of the Royal College of Music. Together with her husband, the 4th Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair, she formed the Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society in 1945, which she directed until 2005. Following her husband’s death in 1974, when the House came under ownership of the National Trust, she established the Haddo Arts Trust.
Performances took place in the large wooden theatre, adjacent to the stables, converted from its original purpose for indoor sport. Due to an impressive roll-call of distinguished musicians – including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Alexander Gibson, Charles Groves, Andrew Davis, Leon Goossens, Sviatoslav Richter, Yehudi Menuhin, Peter Pears, Janet Baker – together with local singers, teachers and students of the RSAMD, and players from the RSNO and BBC SSO, Haddo House Hall became a celebrated venue, described as “the Glyndebourne of the north”.
Inspired by these musical associations, Music-Maker’s Summer Music programme focused on music by Benjamin Britten and Russian composers with theatrical connections, from Tchaikovsky to Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. In addition to the famous hall, we were privileged to present events in the intimacy of the Library and Drawing Room, as well as the adjoining Chapel which houses a Father Willis organ.
This ‘pilot’ festival was combined with a similar programme presented at Paxton House later that month.
Future plans were put on hold while the National Trust considered changes to its properties, including Haddo House, following the 2008 global financial crisis. Sadly, hopes of collaboration with the Haddo Foundation, formed in 2009 to manage the arts at Haddo, were never realised.
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