Six weeks to go…

There are only six weeks until the start of the 2017 Southwell Music Festival (24-28 August).

This will be our fourth Festival and I’m pleased that the event appears to be as popular as ever.  Some concerts have already sold out and only a few seats remain available for most concerts.  To those who have already made their commitments may I say thank you for your support.  If you have yet to decide what to attend, may I suggest that now might be a good time to do so.  Tickets can booked online here, by calling 0115 989 5555, or by visiting the Southwell Cathedral shop.

I’d like to highlight one particular programme of which Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell and I are particularly proud.  Our exploration of the musical possibilities of the spaces at Southwell Minster is an ongoing project and the Strings in the Quire programme on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th August at 8.15-9.15pm is the latest example of this.

Last year’s unforgettable performance of Strauss’s Metamorphosen revealed the potential of the Minster’s 13th century Quire as an ideal space and acoustic in which to present the Festival’s outstanding body of string players.

So this year we have included a programme comprising three highly attractive works for string orchestra from the beginning, middle and end of the 20th century.  These will be contrasted with brief but arresting contributions from the Festival’s brilliant brass players.

Arvo Pärt’s haunting Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten expresses his admiration for Britten, whose song cycle Les Illuminations announced the arrival of a genius: this ravishing work, setting poems by Arthur Rimbaud, was written when Britten was still in his 20s. It will be sung by the soprano Alison Rose.

The concert ends with Vaughan Williams’ radiant and revolutionary Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis which was conceived with a cathedral acoustic in mind – in this case Gloucester Cathedral where it was premiered at the 1910 Three Choirs Festival.

During the next few weeks, as part of the countdown to the 2017 Festival and to whet your appetite for what is to come, we are raiding our archive of recordings from last year’s Festival.  Today I’d like to share an extract from Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontiusthe Demon’s Chorus – which illustrates the commitment and quality of our outstanding ensemble of singers and players.

We look forward to seeing you in August.

Marcus