Concert at Hill of Tarvit offers jazz duo a taste of the grand life

Konrad Wiszniewski and Euan Stevenson are looking forward to the experience of playing in Hill of Tarvit's grand hall. (Photo: Iain Clark)
Konrad Wiszniewski and Euan Stevenson are looking forward to the experience of playing in Hill of Tarvit's grand hall. (Photo: Iain Clark)

Saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and pianist Euan Stevenson add a new experience to their already packed CVs when they play a concert in Hill of Tarvit Mansion House, near Cupar, on Saturday, February 16.

The Glasgow-based duo have appeared in all sorts of situations on both sides of the Atlantic.

They have taken the group they co-lead, New Focus, to the Royal Festival Hall in London, as part of BBC Radio 3’s 70th birthday celebrations.

More recently they’ve performed alongside the Firelands Symphony Chorale in Ohio and their prestigious jazz gigs have included Ronnie Scott’s, Europe’s best-known jazz club.

Hill of Tarvit, however, has a prestige all its own, says Wiszniewski, who is one of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s star soloists and who was voted Instrumentalist of the Year at the Scottish Jazz Awards in 2018.

“We’ve played a few house concerts but never in anything quite so grand as this amazing building,” says the saxophonist. “When we were asked if were interested in appearing in the grand hall at Hill of Tarvit we immediately agreed to do it because, from photographs, it looks like it has a fantastic atmosphere.”

Originally known as Wemyss Hall and now owned by the National Trust, the Hill of Tarvit mansion dates back to the 17th century.

In 1904, Dundee businessman Frederick Sharp, who had recently purchased the property, commissioned architect Robert Lorimer to transform his new family home into a modern 20th-century mansion to display his collection of fine art.

The house now preserves Edwardian family life, giving a taste of TV series Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs.

“We won’t be using any amplification,” says Wiszniewski. “We’ll just work with the natural sound in the room.

“So although we’ll be playing mostly our own material, with one or two jazz standards added, the audience should still get a sense of what it might have been like when the family who lived there a hundred years ago had a musical evening.”