The beauty of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands has inspired numerous artists, composers and musicians, most famously the dramatic cathedral-like Fingal’s Cave on Staffa, immortalised by Mendelssohn and J M Turner to name but two. This cruise uncovers the talent of local musicians and artists who have also been stimulated by the unique atmosphere of the environs in which they live.

The Crinan Hotel is a renowned gallery venue where contemporary artists Frances Macdonald and her son Ross Ryan regularly exhibit. Frances is unrivalled in her ability to capture the true character and drama of the landscapes and coastline in Argyll and the Western Isles. From her studio and the hotel overlooking the Corryvreckan, there are inspirational views across the water to the north end of Jura, to Scarba, the mountains of Mull and the great expanse of the North Atlantic. Wonderfully in touch with her subject matter, Frances is immersed in her surroundings and can convey their every nuance to the viewer.

Ross Ryan grew up in the small fishing village of Crinan and graduated from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. When he is not travelling the globe or sailing, Ross works from his print studio in the Old Boathouse at the Crinan Ferry in changing mediums; fully equipped for Collograph, Monoprinting, Etching and Woodcut prints, this is where Ross creates his print series and develops new projects.

The Resipole Studio is an award-winning fine art gallery and unique exhibition space which hosts an exciting annual programme of exhibitions and workshops of Scottish contemporary art that is both emerging and established. The gallery was launched in 2004 by Andrew Sinclair. An arts graduate himself, Andrew recognised the need for a professional gallery space and studio facilities to enable resident and visiting artists to access high quality resources in a truly inspirational Highland setting.

Since its launch, Resipole Studio continues to present work by artists of many disciplines, with Scotland as their key focus. With many award-winning artists on its roster, the gallery is regarded as one of Scotland’s leading contemporary art spaces. 

Every July the beautiful Hebridean island of Islay is home to Cantilena’s professional musicians and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who bring together their unique sound of chamber music to residents and visitors, with many of the concerts being held in the famous Islay Malt Whisky distilleries. To this romantic island, Cantilena brings wonderful music from the dazzling virtuosity of Vivaldi and Bach, through the romantic sophistication of Beethoven and Schubert, right up to the challenges of modern composers.

The professional musicians involved in the Cantilena Festival are driven by a powerful desire to share their passionate love of music-making with an emerging generation of young musicians.

The German composer Mendelssohn visited Scotland in 1829 when he was 20 years old. It was the natural beauty of Scotland and its rich history of fact and fable that delighted the young composer and inspired the Scottish Symphony, including the Hebrides Overture and Fingal’s Cave.

Some 150 years later the remarkable violinist Leonard Friedman, based in Edinburgh, conceived a musical pilgrimage in commemoration of Mendelssohn’s visit. With the first such event in 1988, Leonard inaugurated a week of music-making, concentrating on string chamber music, where the participants were a blend of established professionals and students at which audiences were welcome at no cost.

Today, the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival has retained its shape, despite the changing nature of artistic direction, musical mentoring and student participation. The venues in which the concerts are held are extraordinary, including the rugged splendour of Duart Castle, which helps to explain why these concerts have built a national following.

Our Classical cruise also takes us to Islay House Square, the exotic woodland gardens of Colonsay House, the sacred iconic Iona Abbey, the awe-inspiring Fingal’s Cave and the ancient Duart Castle. Experience all of this, interspersed with musical interludes and breathtaking scenery, all from the luxury of our floating country house hotel, Hebridean Princess.

>> Classical Inspiration departs from Oban on 3rd July 2018 for seven nights.

Prices from £3,885 per person based on 2 people sharing an inside double/twin cabin.