Thursday, May 25 no doubt will stay in people’s memory if they were present at Nigel Kennedy’s concert in St Mary’s Church, Lion Street. It still rings in my ears. He was as usual exuberant, chatty and funny while introducing his international band: English cellist, two guitarists (one just 19 years old), bassist and a drummer from Krakow.
From a young age, Nigel Kennedy was Yehudi Menuhin’s most famous protégé, eventually joining the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He has had an extraordinary career and a lot of worldwide media attention, playing with the world’s leading orchestras. He is master of the violin when he plays from the softest, gentle sounds to a fast gypsy tempo. In the first half of the concert he played various Bach movements which were beautiful. To add to the atmosphere there was stream lighting across the stage in different colours which gave a lovely reflection on the opposite wall of the church, surrounding the window.
The second half was very different. Nigel explained that the next five pieces were dedicated to specific composers who influence him. I enjoyed most, Solitude – for Yehudi Menuhin – but all were wonderful. They played right through without a pause and as an encore we heard Danny Boy. Although played on an electric violin, Nigel’s touch on the piece was so gentle that it moved many of us.
The band and Kennedy must have been exhausted but it didn’t show and they kept playing as the audience gave them several standing ovations. It was a treat that will be difficult to follow.
The events guide brochure of this jazz festival describes him as “the biggest selling classical violinist of all time”. I am not surprised.
Photos: main,Tony Ham, others Heidi Foster