Musical evening at Surgeons’ Hall, Edinburgh

On Saturday I went along to Surgeons’ Hall Museum for a musical evening. This event was in celebration of the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For those who don’t know, Conan Doyle, attended the medical school in Edinburgh and was greatly influenced by Dr Joseph Bell. Bell’s methods of observation and deduction made such an impression on Conan Doyle that he based the character of Sherlock Holmes on him.

The evening was opened with a talk on Conan Doyle by Dr Alan Mackaill, author of “Conan Doyle and Joseph Bell: the real Sherlock Holmes”. I found this really interesting as it was mainly about Conan Doyle’s youth, and so I learned some new things about him. Most of the stories I’d heard previously were about the later periods of his life. The event was taking place in the museum itself and it felt very appropriate to be hearing about Conan Doyle and Bell surrounded by a collection of objects that they would have been familiar with.

We were then treated to a recital of music that had connections to Edinburgh at the time Conan Doyle would have been studying here. Our two musicians for the evening were Will Pickvance on piano and Feargus Hetherington on the violin. It wasn’t just any violin though. We were listening to the “Sherlock” violin, crafted by Steve Burnett in 2009 from a sycamore tree which grew in the grounds of Conan Doyle’s childhood home in Edinburgh. The choice of music was inspired, and very beautiful. That man Playfair must have known what he was doing because the acoustics were perfect.

The highlight of the evening was the chance to hear a brand new composition by Pickvance, inspired by Sherlock Holmes. The rest of the audience seemed to agree with me on that as we clapped until our hands hurt.

This was just one of the events that the museum has organised for 2010, so check out their programme to see what else is going on throughout the year.

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