To judge by audience reaction, the 2017 Festival which closed on Bank Holiday Monday 28th August surpassed its predecessors in the quality of programming and performances. This is remarkable in view of the outstanding quality of previous Festivals.
Music critic William Ruff, writing enthusiastically about the Festival in the Nottingham Post, summed up what we are trying to achieve:
“The Southwell Festival reaches out to musicians and audience alike, embracing them all in the warmest of welcomes. There really is something for everyone: music new and old, music for small children and for experts, music for singers and for instrumentalists, for large groups and small ensembles. Even free music for picnickers.”
You can read Mr Ruff’s review in full here and I hope you will.
This year’s Festival also attracted record numbers of attendees: there were 27% more ‘bums on seats’ this year compared to last. The estimated number of attendees across all festival concerts – both paid for and free – was in excess of 5,000. In addition there were four well-attended services in the Minster.
The figure does not represent the number of individuals who came since most people attended more than one event; however the significant increase over previous years clearly indicates that more people are coming to the Festival and are choosing to attend more events.
I’m very grateful to everyone who played a part in making this year’s Festival the best yet. It is an extraordinary community effort and the organisers recognise that we could not succeed without that support from far and wide. Thank you to our wonderful musicians and to all who have so generously provided practical and financial support.
Now we look forward to next year but before that we also prepare to welcome everyone to a special Christmas concert on Friday 22nd December featuring the outstanding Southwell Festival Voices and distinguished actor David Oakes. A Christmas Celebration will be a potpourri of sacred and secular words and music for Christmas through the ages. Tickets are already on sale online here, or by phoning 0115 989 5555 or visiting the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham or the Southwell Cathedral Shop.
Incredibly next year will already be our fifth festival and so we aim to make it even more special. It will run over six days from Wednesday 22nd to Monday 27th August and there is one major highlight we can already announce: at the main Saturday night concert in the Minster on 25th August we will present Sir Michael Tippett’s moving oratorio A Child of our Time preceded by a performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in which the soloist will be the wonderful Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
The full programme for the 2018 Festival will be announced in the Minster on Friday 13th April 2018. Tickets will go on sale to Festival Friends from Monday 14th May and general public booking will open on Monday 4th June.
To sum up and provide further encouragement here’s a short video message I recorded as the 2017 Festival was drawing to a close.
We look forward to your company.