No. 27: 6–9 July 2017
“Men in kilts, a besieged whisky stand, flags in the audience – never before has a country showcase had such a high profile as Scotland this year!”
Bernhard Hanneken, programme director
Scotland’s role as the showcase country in 2017 was clearly given momentum by the Brexit negotiations. The artists were engulfed by a wave of affection from the audience, who were exhilarated by their high standard of musicianship. During the four days of the festival, Scotland’s ‘Yes’ to Europe was of course repeatedly on the agenda.
“For Scotland, it was a privilege to share its music and identity with the festivalgoers in Rudolstadt,” said Lisa Whytock from Showcase Scotland Expo, with whom the festival organizers had worked closely on the country’s special role. “It’s an amazing festival, there are so many magical places, and everywhere you look there’s music, a sense of community and, most importantly, an international identity. It’s very, very special.”
Around 18,000 visitors – far more than ever before – flocked to the opening concert featuring folk pop star Amy Macdonald in Heine Park on the Thursday evening. Over the following few days, the trad electro team Sketch went down a storm, as did top piper Fred Morrison and also Mairearad & Anna, who thrilled the audience with a whimsical performance of their virtuoso guitar and accordion playing.
The highlight on the final day was a unique homage to Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns entitled ‘A Man For A’ That’. During this production specially staged for Rudolstadt, songs by Burns were performed by musicians from ten countries in their native languages, his songs being sung in Amharic, Arabic, Gaelic, Georgian, German, Hebrew, Polish, Portuguese, Sami, Scots and Urdu. This festival special was described as “Crazy!” by the Israeli quartet Gulaza – who later revised their opinion to “Genius!” National newspaper FAZ captured the spirit of the concert in its headline “Be embraced, bagpipe icons” while Fred Freeman went down in festival history with his constant refrain of “Great stuff, excellent stuff!”
Among some 300 performances, the tenth concert by the Thuringian Symphony Orchestra will long remain in the memory. Joined by electronic composer Sven Helbig and the choir of Goethe High School in Gera, the orchestra performed Helbig’s sonically powerful cycle ‘I Eat the Sun and Drink the Rain’ at Heidecksburg Palace. As Holger Beythien declared on national arts radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur: “One of the most unusual projects I have ever seen at the Rudolstadt Festival... A fascinating aural example of the possible interaction between classical music and modern sounds.... Unsettling, mystifying, captivating.”