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Nigel is 60

Yesterday evening we went to the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh for a most remarkable event: a concert in honour of Nigel Osborne's 60th birthday. Nigel is a man of such all-embracing talent that it's easy to forget what an exceptional musician he is. After being a concert violinist, he became a renowned composer and pioneer in music as healing in war-torn countries. The people who had turned out to celebrate included the Hebrides Ensemble, the Edinburgh Quartet, members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Mostar SInfonietta. And the compere was no less than the incredibly witty Richard Stilgoe, with poems and anagrams for the occasion. He even had the whole audience singing in canon (in Serbo-Croat, obviously) just to cover the scene-changes.

It's a measure of Nigel's popularity that the event seemed to be organised largely by his students, notably Clea Friend. Seven of his students had each composed one-minute pieces specially for Nigel, so this was their "world-premier" - with the Edinburgh Quartet. What a refreshing diversity there was among them, the hallmark of a great teacher. For me, a lapsed oboist, the highlight was the stunning performance by Nicholas Daniel of Nigel's amazing oboe concerto, a work apparently delivered about 10 years after it was commissioned, but was certainly worth the wait. And what a huge treat to hear the aria from Nigel's latest opera, Differences in Demolitions. Michael Popper performed an extraordinarily moving dance (to Bach/Busoni) without ever moving his feet and Ruaraidh, Nigel's young son, played piano and guitar for his dad.

The formal part ended with Sevdah songs from Teo Krilic and friends, with lots of audience participation and scarcely a dry eye in the house. The party afterwards probably went on all night, but Keir and I had to come away, returning to Dunblane inspired and humbled by all that talent. Respect, Nigel, and remember that life begins at 60 ... from one who knows!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 2, 2008 10:03 AM.

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