In 2012, I had an idea, and, like all ideas, it can be a bit scary wondering if it will work. Then, like all ideas which do work, it becomes scary when they grow arms and legs! Such is the story of “Classics at Kippen.” I’m not sure where all my ideas come from, but I think this idea has worked and it certainly has grown arms and legs!

The ethos of “Classics at Kippen” is threefold; to provide a lovely community event of high class music making in our beautiful Parish Church, to raise money for charity and to provide a much-needed performing platform for my young students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. At this early stage in their careers, as they start out in this tough profession, these very talented young musicians really need to try out their repertoire, to practise their developing technique, and to discover and refine their own performing and musical identities in a real live performance situation.

These opportunities are few and far between, so a chance like this is grabbed with both hands by them all, and you, our audience, in return reap the benefit of hearing fresh young talent. Many of the singers and pianists you have already heard are now forging successful careers at Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Scottish Opera, Opera North, Opera de Lyons, Frankfurt Opera and Chatelet Opera in Paris to name but a few. You heard them in Kippen first!!

These concerts are very dear to my heart because “back in the day” in the 80’s and 90’s, as a singer myself, I gave several recitals in the Church, which also raised money for the Kippen Parish Church and Erskine and, way back in the days of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s my grandmother, Helen McCowan of Brig o’ Frew Farm, was greatly involved in all things musical in Kippen !

Since 2012 we have had five concerts; an opera gala, an evening of song, a presentation of “Words and Music from the Somme” (to commemorate the centenaries of the Battle of the Somme, and Erskine) and two “Raucous Rossini” operas. We have raised around £20,000 for charity – Crossroads, Kippen Parish Church and Erskine being our beneficiaries to date. I’m amazed. I think we may have had our last “Raucous Rossini” performance but I hope to put on another concert in the not too distant future with some of my newest and exciting young singers who, I think, have a great future ahead of them. Please contact me if you would like to be on our mailing list for information of future events.

These events don’t just happen and I’m incredibly grateful and hugely indebted to all who help behind the scenes. Thank you so much to all our various sponsors whose generous donations pay for some expenses, to all who help with the publicity, who leaflet the village, set up the “stage” and clear up afterwards, hand out programmes and wine on the night, collect students from the train, offer overnight hospitality and, last but certainly not least, my wonderful cooks who turn up with the most delicious hot meals which the students devour as if they hadn’t eaten for days! Students will do most things for food! Everyone gives freely, as do the students, and they all love coming out to Kippen for some TLC in the country.

My next task, I think, may be to try and find some funding to buy staging which could be generally used for any performances in the village. At the moment we borrow from the church of the Holyrude in Stirling at no charge! It is a bit of a hassle so it would be great to have our own. Also, if anyone knows anything about lighting that could also be really helpful! Not my field of expertise!

Thanks to your generosity and support, “Classics at Kippen” is alive and well in this tough economic climate for the arts. Kippen truly is a “giving village”. Thank you all for digging deep to support us and for turning up “on the night” which is always a huge relief to me! Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated. Watch this space for our next event! “If music is the food of love play on, give me excess of it”.