Who needs the Edinburgh Festival?

I’ve been remiss about going to any Festival events this year – somehow a late holiday and then the backlog to catch up on has just made it seem impossible.  But last night’s concert at Holy Trinity was, I would say, as good as anything I might have gone to in Edinburgh anyway.

Rowan McGirr is a 19 year old violinist from Clackmannanshire currently studying at the Peabody Insititute in Baltimore.  She played a recital in church last night for The Leprosy Mission Scotland, and it was breathtaking.   We were advised to get our programme signed for posterity, and I wish I had.

The sheer virtuosity of her playing – speed, range of technique, mood – was amazing.  I remembered that you are supposed to put in 10,000 hours before you are really any good at anything, and I wondered how she could have fitted them in.  She was best at the slightly zigeuner gypsy style – a bit E. Europe – and I thought she introduced some of that rather flamboyant mode into a Bach partita, in a fresh way.

And the leprosy hospital at Purulia in West Bengal, where Eddie Askew was superintendent for 13 years, will benefit from her giving up an evening to enthrall us.  I can remember as a child being fascinated and slightly chilled by the squint  or hagioscope in our village church.  I had been told, in a rather sepulchral tone, by my father that lepers would have watched the service through the squint as they were not allowed anywhere near human beings.  Not quite historically accurate on the architecture, but rather more true on society’s attitudes.

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