A baroque ensemble is teaming up with award-winning soprano Susan Hamilton for a six date tour which will take in five Scottish locations and London to celebrate one of Scotland's music pioneers.

Laudonia will be joined by Ms Hamilton and one of the leading names on the early music scene, the Croatian-born star violinist Bojan Čičić for 'The Grand Tour' which will stop in Melrose, Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Dunkeld.

Organisers say Laudonia has launched the project to celebrate and highlight how one man’s journey through Europe created some of the best music of its time to emerge from Scotland.

Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (1676-1755) was of immense cultural importance and held a crucial place in the history of Scottish baroque music, particularly with his cantatas.

While Sir Clerk is more renowned for his legal and political contributions to Scottish life, he also stands as a significant composer in his own right. Sadly, much of his musical output was lost in a fire that struck Penicuik House in 1899. However, his five vocal cantatas have survived and provide a glimpse into his musical genius.

The Herald: Susan Hamilton Susan Hamilton (Image: Nick Rutter)

In his memoirs, Sir John Clerk recounts: “I bestowed a great deal of pains on the Harpsecord, and in a year after was as well qualified to perform my part on that instrument as and Gentlemen in Holland. I found that this piece of skill was indeed of very great use to me afterwards in the course of my Travels through Germany, Italy, and France.”

His musical talent opened doors for him, granting him access to influential circles, including an introduction to the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopoldo I, in Vienna, and an invitation to attend the private opera in the Imperial Garden of the Favretti. Upon arriving in Rome, he recalls: “Music granted me easier access to the best company in Rome than other strangers had.” Here, he had the privilege of studying with the respected harpsichordist Pasquini and the legendary violinist and composer Arcangelo Corelli.

Scottish soprano Susan Hamilton said of the Grand Tour: “Sir John Clerk of Penicuik’s Grand Tour is of national importance.

"We were inspired by his incredible  journey and fascinated that music played such a significant role opening doors and offering him wonderful opportunities. Music has always had the power to break down all barriers. It is a language without prejudice."

TOUR DATES: September 2023


Melrose      1st September  19:30 – Holy Trinity Church, Melrose

Edinburgh 2nd September  19:30 – St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh

Dunkeld     3rd September  19:30 – Dunkeld Cathedral

Inverness   5th  September  19:30 – Inverness Cathedral

Aberdeen   6th  September  19:30 – Queen’s Cross Church

London      8th  September  19:30 – St Mary Abbot’s Church, Kensington