Gleneagles pulls the plug on jazz musicians at new Edinburgh hotel

It is one of the most anticipated new arrivals in Edinburgh’s city centre for years.
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But the new Gleneagles hotel has already struck a sour note with some of the country's leading jazz musicians after plans to have them performing in its restaurant were ditched – and replaced with pre-recorded music.

Performers were left furious after losing out on weeks of bookings at the new Gleneagles Townhouse on St Andrew Square.

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However, Gleneagles insists the musicians were only brought in on a” trial-run” basis.

The Spence is the main restaurant at the new Gleneagles Townhouse hotel in Edinburgh.The Spence is the main restaurant at the new Gleneagles Townhouse hotel in Edinburgh.
The Spence is the main restaurant at the new Gleneagles Townhouse hotel in Edinburgh.
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The hotel claims the musicians were booked through a "third-party" consultant ahead of its official opening earlier this month “to determine suitability and fit” for the hotel restaurant, The Spence.

It is understood Fraser Urquhart, Paul Harrison, David Patrick, Brian Kellock, Pete Johnstone, Tom Gibbs and Euan Stevenson were among the leading jazz pianists affected.

The musicians are believed to have been offered payment of £150 for each gig, with bookings agreed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes, up until August.

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The Gleneagles Townhouse restaurant, The Spence.The Gleneagles Townhouse restaurant, The Spence.
The Gleneagles Townhouse restaurant, The Spence.

However, the plug is understood to have been pulled on the official opening weekend. The musicians who had been booked to appear are understood to have been informed they had been dropped in a WhatsApp message.

One musician, who asked not to be named, said: "I'm absolutely disgusted with how we've all been treated by the Gleneagles Townhouse team.

“It has been difficult enough these last couple of years with virtually no gigs and no proper income.

“Things still haven't picked up as much as we might have expected, so the volume of work which the hotel was offering us was a real boost, and seemed to offer real hope – regular, ongoing work.

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"To do a complete U-turn on the first weekend when we have all planned around the dates we were allocated – and knocked back other gigs in some cases so that we could do these gigs – is, frankly, a lousy way to deal with musicians and shows no understanding of or respect for what we do.

“This isn't a hobby. This is our livelihood. Shame on Gleneagles."

Gleneagles confirmed that a third-party consultant had been working with the hotel since April to discuss the music that would be played in The Spence restaurant. The “trial run” is said to have been agreed between the hotel and the music consultant.

However, Gleneagles said mid-way through the trial period it was decided that piano music “wasn’t appropriate for the space”. Musicians booked to appear before the end of the trial period are in the process of being paid, regardless of whether they played or not.

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A spokeswoman said: “Gleneagles is a huge champion of the arts and works with a large number of local and Scottish musicians throughout the year, to enhance its restaurants, bars and events with a diverse range of live music acts.

“In this particular case, in which a trial-run was organised ahead of the opening of The Spence, we have since opted to utilise a recorded play list rather than live music during the opening months.”

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