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Rhu conductor describes musicians’ mad dash to beat new quarantine rules

THE Rhu director of one of Scotland’s leading classical music groups has described how he and his players faced a mad dash across the English Channel in a fishing boat to beat quarantine restrictions.

John Butt and the members of the Dunedin Consort sailed home in a fishing boat last Friday night in order to get back from a concert in Normandy before new rules kicked in requiring anyone travelling to the UK from France to quarantine for 14 days.

With Eurotunnel trains sold out and air fares up to six times higher than normal, the group had to enlist the help of the skipper of a local fishing boat – and landed on British shores 10 minutes before the curfew began at 4am on Saturday.

John, who is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow as well as the Consort’s musical director, said: “The concert seemed to go very well, with the musicians finding their stride pretty quickly, and the audience seemed extremely enthusiastic.

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“There was a debate as to whether we should cancel the concert, which would have cost the company an enormous amount, and also as to what means we might take to find a way home before the deadline.”

The crossing took place on a calm night, with no wind or rain, and some of the group’s members even managed to have a nap below deck and a glass of wine to pass the time on the voyage.

Though they made it back to the UK just in time, John told the Advertiser he has still decided to stay at home to self-isolate as much as possible.

“I’ve not talked to many locals here yet,” he continued, “since I am trying to self-isolate as much as is practicable despite having made the deadline.

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“The family here have followed each stage of the story with close attention – there were many ups and downs and some friends and family were even tracking the boat in real time.

“They were very pleased that I made it home half a day earlier than planned.

“The Dunedin Consort has a full season planned,

“It’s not certain how much of this will actually proceed as advertised, but we hope that we’ll find other ways of employing the musicians as plans change.”

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