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  • Pavel Haas Quartet rehearsing at the 2023 East Neuk Festival

    © Neil Hanna via the East Neuk Festival

  • Pittenweem

    Photo by Steve Douglas via Unsplash

  • St Monan's, East Neuk

    © Neil Hanna via the East Neuk Festival

  • Aerial view of St Monan's

    Photo by Ian Dick licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra rehearsing at the 2023 East Neuk Festival

    © Neil Hanna via the East Neuk Festival

  • Kellie Castle

    Photo by Steve Douglas licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Attend a range of excellent concerts from solo artists and chamber groups, including the renowned Pavel Haas Quartet and pianists Hisako Kawamura and Boris Giltburg

  • Musical highlights include Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 14 ‘Moonlight’ and Schubert’s Quartet No 14 in D ‘Death and the Maiden’

  • Discover the history and culture of this scenic ‘nook’ of Scotland, including Falkland Palace and Garden

“Michael was an entertaining and approachable guide to the concerts… His talks added to our enjoyment of the music. The festival was a great success, with splendid performances of a rich range of repertoire”

- ACE customer on the 2023 East Neuk Festival tour with Michael Downes



“The festival has succeeded in attracting many of the world’s leading chamber musicians to perform in this remote corner of Fife, often with combinations of instruments and repertoire only presented here”

- Tour Director Michael Downes


Founded in 2004 on a strong belief “in the joy and power of live music and its potential to transform lives and life”, this captivating festival takes place annually to broad critical acclaim and growing audiences, who appreciate its dedication to high quality performances alongside community projects and support for young artists. Attendees particularly enjoy the festival’s eclectic range of venues, including parish churches set in a landscape that is both historical and naturally enthralling, from charming fishing villages to a stunning coastline.


The 2024 programme will include two concerts featuring one of the world’s finest chamber ensembles, the Pavel Haas Quartet, winners of several awards (including five Gramophone Awards) who have performed all over the world. Together with the Belfiato Wind Quintet, they will perform in the surroundings of Kilrenny Church, bringing us works including Janáček’s Mládí and Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen.


The Pavel Haas Quartet will also be joined by pianist Boris Giltburg – “a leading interpreter of Rachmaninov” – for a concert of works including the composer’s Morceaux de fantaisie Nos 2 & 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No 3 in E flat minor. The Belfiato Wind Quintet and Giltburg will collaborate later in the festival to bring us pieces by Reicha and Beethoven; while up-and-coming Scandinavian string quartet Opus13 will perform Schubert’s powerful Quartet No 14, ‘Death and the Maiden’.


Crail Church is the venue for several performances, including an appearance from the esteemed Doric String Quartet alongside prize-winning pianist Hisako Kawamura. They will perform Ravel’s Sonatine alongside works by Beethoven and Schumann, before Kawamura returns for a solo performance featuring works by Beethoven, including his well-known ‘Moonlight’ sonata.


We also look forward to attending the festival’s closing concert, featuring the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under their Principal Conductor, Maxim Emelyanychev, in a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 22 and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7.


While music will be at the heart of the tour, we will also have opportunities to explore the local area. These will include excursions to the historical university town of St Andrews and the delightful fishing village of Anstruther; a visit to Falkland Palace and Garden, one of Scotland’s most impressive Renaissance estates and home to a 16th century tennis court; and a stop at the charming village of Culross.


We will stay throughout at the four-star Old Manor Hotel, Lundin Links, which overlooks the Firth of Forth and enjoys comfortable rooms, blending classic design with modern amenities.


This tour will be led by Michael Downes, MA, MPhil, DPhil. Michael is a conductor, writer and lecturer who has lectured for most of the UK’s leading opera companies and writes programme notes for organisations including Wigmore Hall and Snape Maltings. He collaborated with Nike Wagner, great-granddaughter of Richard, on the English version of her book about her family’s history, and his current writing projects include books about Wagner and Elgar. Since 2008 Michael has occupied the post of Director of Music at the University of St Andrews, and led the University’s project to build the £15m Laidlaw Music Centre.


Tour Director Michael Downes writes:


"The coastline south of St Andrews is studded with some of Scotland’s most beautiful villages and small towns. It was the genius of the East Neuk Festival when it began in 2004 to recognise the potential of some of its churches as venues for chamber music: many have outstanding acoustics, and all offer audiences the chance to interact with performers and with each other in an intimate and inspiring setting.


I have lived in several of the East Neuk villages since moving to Scotland in 2008, and I now live right on the coastal path in Cellardyke. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share both my adopted home and some extraordinary music with visitors from ACE Cultural Tours.”

Tour Code

We have availability for various room types.
Please contact the office for more details.

Included: accommodation based on sharing a classic twin or double bedded room, performances as described, six breakfasts, one light lunch, six dinners (one light) with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, classic double room for single use supplement £420, classic double sea view room for single use supplement £480. Twin/double rooms with sea view supplement on request.

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