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Birnam Arts and Conference Centre

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Ssshhh! Some subtle secrets of the sound of great music

How does Birnam do it?  How does a tiny village in rural Scotland manage to attract international class of musical performers across all genres – classical, folk, rock, jazz, country, pop and more?

Well, if you'll forgive us for blowing our own trumpet, there’s an insider's secret that keeps them coming back time after time: Birnam Arts’ main auditorium, the John Kinnaird Hall, enjoys superb acoustics.  Partly it's a wee bit of luck to do with our location, but mostly it’s down to care taken by the architects who designed the extension to the old Birnam Institute back in 2001.  And as we rock up towards our 20th anniversary that extra bit of effort is still paying dividends.  We’re not talking concert hall standards, obviously, but the subtle superiority of our acoustics compared to the vast majority of small venues is always noted and appreciated by true musicians, and by their sound crews (the real carriers of this inside knowledge).

Right now those acoustics are in the midst of a fine workout, with Birnam Arts enjoying a terrific run of musical acts.  This Saturday (20th June) we have the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Wind Ensemble, featuring the peerless Alison Mitchell & Bronte Hudnott on flutes, Robin Williams & Rosie Staniforth on oboes, Maximiliano Martin & William Stafford on clarinets, plus Alison Green on bassoons and Harry Johnstone on horns.  Regulars will know the SCO (in various offshoot forms) is a frequent visitor to Birnam Arts, testament in itself to the warm soundscape of our venue.

On Wednesday (4th July) we play host to another well-kept secret – Luke Daniels and Tim Edey, two of British folk music’s most highly regarded guitarists.  Both are well known as solo artists in the Celtic / contemporary roots scene, of course, but this gig is part of their first tour as a duo – the kind of casual collaboration beloved of musicians and music fans alike.  Join them and us for a fab night next Wednesday.

Saturday 14th July sees our screening of Giulio Cesare, Handel’s most witty, sexy and tragic opera.  David McVicar’s acclaimed film of the 2005 Glyndebourne production features an all-star cast, including Sarah Connolly and Danielle de Niese, with Christophe Dumauax and Christopher Maltman as the male leads, and William Christie conducting the orchestra.  Opera lovers will swoon.

From opera to jazz.  The following Saturday (21st July) we welcome Jam Experiment.  Now before any ageing mods rummage through the wardrobe and start squeezing themselves into old Union Jack jackets, you need to know this is not any kind of tribute band but a unique, individual sound focused on original compositions forged from jazz, pop and funk influences.  This cool young 5-piece band includes trombonist Rory Ingham, winner of the 2017 Rising Star at the British Jazz Awards.  Jam Experiment will be playing material from their *****-rated, eponymous debut album alongside new songs developing for their follow-up.  Truly exciting stuff, not to be missed.


All of this follows last weekend’s fabulous double-header of music.  Saturday saw the wondrous chemistry that emerges when Heidi Talbot’s beguiling voice is paired with the sparkling musicianship of Scottish folk’s finest producer and arranger, John McCusker.  John’s magic previously brought out the best in greats like Eddi Reader and Kate Rusby, and his work with Heidi will surely help put her up there with those revered names.  Meantime an almost sell-out audience were chuffed to have them at Birnam Arts and the musicians, as they told us afterwards, had a ball too, not least because of the sound quality.

Last Friday saw our very own Just Singin’ choir celebrate their 15th anniversary with a fundraiser in aid of Birnam Arts.  A joyful night of communal singing involving both choir and audience left the rafters ringing.  Everyone involved in Birnam Arts is immensely grateful for this generous gesture by the Just Singin' group – our wonderful acoustics cost money to maintain, you know!

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