Seventy of the best professional singers and players of the younger generation will be in Southwell during the August Bank Holiday weekend to take part in the fourth annual Southwell Music Festival (24-28 August).
The centrepiece of the five day programme will be an all-Mozart concert (26 August, 7.30pm) featuring multi-award-winning pianist James Baillieu performing piano concerto No. 21 C major K467, and a performance of the Great Mass in C minor K427 in which the soloists will be the critically-acclaimed soprano Sophie Bevan, a regular at the Royal Opera House and English National Opera, and mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly, a recent graduate of ROH’s Jette Parker Young Artists Scheme.
The professional choir and orchestra will be conducted by the Festival’s Founder and Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth with the orchestra led by Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell.
Marcus Farnsworth announced the 2017 programme at a free preview concert in Southwell Minster on 31 March and said: “I am delighted that once again we have been able to attract some of the most exciting performers from across the UK and Europe. Members of this remarkable ensemble take part in all the main concerts and give the Festival its special character. The skill and enthusiasm of these amazing colleagues, many of whom have been with us on several occasions, are among the main reasons that the Festival’s reputation has grown so quickly since the inaugural event in 2014.
“The quality and variety of our performing spaces is another important ingredient in the Festival’s success and the Minster’s Quire has the perfect acoustic for our wonderful body of string players who will give their own string orchestra concert including Vaughan Williams’ Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and Britten’s Les Illuminations with soprano soloist Alison Rose.
“Another key feature of the Festival is to support the development of up-and-coming local musicians so we are thrilled that the 2017 programme will include a recital by the Nottingham cellist and BBC Young Musician 2016 winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
“This year’s Festival has a strong French theme with a whole programme of chamber music, a late night performance of Poulenc’s choral tour de force Figure Humaine, and a Family Concert featuring his setting of Babar the Elephant, as well as an organ recital by Matthew Martin with a strong Gallic theme.
“The contemplative atmosphere of the Minster late at night provides the setting for our first concert of baroque music – a rare performance of Buxtehude’s masterpiece Membra Jesu Nostri.
“We have once again crammed as much as we can into five days and, with several repeated concerts, it is still possible for the most dedicated music lover to hear every note. Also we are keen that the Festival should be accessible to all: of the 28 events, half are free.”
“We are most grateful to our many supporters without whom the Festival could not take place: our sponsors, led once again by our 2017 Festival Sponsor Geoffrey Bond; our Festival Friends; our donors and volunteers; and Southwell Cathedral for permission to present the event.”