Welcome to the Sixteen

Dear Festival Supporters,

The Sixteen, who return to Southwell Minster on Thursday 21st September at 7.30pm, are one of the world’s most famous vocal ensembles: under Harry Christophers they have established a following around the world for the quality of their choral sound and the range of their repertoire.

At Southwell Music Festival we are proud to have a special relationship with The Sixteen through their Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers who we are delighted to have as one of our Patrons.  Harry has long shared our view that Southwell Minster is a hidden gem.

I am very pleased that we were able to strengthen that relationship at this year’s Festival when we welcomed four young singers from Harry’s training ensemble Genesis Sixteen: they were among our 2017 Festival Apprentices who sang in the Festival Voices, took part in a number of concerts and received specialist coaching, including a session with visiting soprano soloist Sophie Bevan.

This month’s Southwell appearance by The Sixteen is part of their 2017 Choral Pilgrimage.  Entitled ‘The Olive Branch’, with the theme of conflict and atonement, the repertoire includes outstanding pieces by two giant composers of choral music – the 16th century Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and the 20th century French composer Francis Poulenc.

Harry Christophers says that for him the music of these composers “represents the very pinnacle of sacred music.  Palestrina is the master craftsman while Poulenc’s music always bears a human face and he felt he put his best and most authentic side into his choral writing.”

You can find out more in a behind-the-scenes trailer which includes interviews with Harry Christophers and some of the singers and is available here.

This promises to be another memorable evening of choral music at Southwell Minster and we very much hope you can be there.  Tickets are available from the National Centre for Early Music on 01904 651485 or at tickets.ncem.co.uk. If you are not in reach of Southwell do try to catch the Choral Pilgrimage elsewhere: you will find the full itinerary here.

Marcus

That Went Well!

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.

Marcus

2017 Performer Profiles: Lonneke van Straalen

No.7 – Lonneke van Straalen

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming violinist Lonneke van Straalen to Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Lonneke and I play the violin and I am from Holland. I live in Amsterdam with my husband and two kids. I have a position in the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and, in addition, I play in the Aurora Orchestra in London. Also, this summer I set up a brand new ensemble in Holland called ‘Pynarello’. In Amsterdam I’m one of the founders of ‘Splendor’; a concerthall, meeting place, a club, a workspace, a musical laboratory and much, much more! Besides playing concerts I’m also involved in Holland with a big project for refugee children to give them the chance to learn the Dutch language in a musical way. Around 10,000 children have already taken part in the project.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

The best thing about a music festival is that you have to play a lot of music! It gives me such a good feeling to dive into all those notes. To make music all day, with people I really like, feels like a birthday party or gives me the feeling when St Nicholas is arriving in Holland (when I was young of course!)
The whole SMF programme is great but I never played Faure quintet before, so I’m excited to get to know this piece and perform it.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

When I come back I’ll play my second project with my new ensemble ‘Pynarello’ in Amsterdam. We had an amazing launch concert in the summer so I cannot wait to see all the musicians again and give our next concert. After that I’ll travel to London to play the Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony with the Aurora Orchestra. This was the first piece I ever played with Aurora at a Prom, without sheet music. It was extremely exciting!! At this moment I’m curious how much of it remains in my brain! When I will be back from Aurora I’ll play ‘Shorelines’, a musical theatre piece, in Glasgow with a Dutch string quartet.”

2017 Performer Profiles: Suzie Thorn

No.6 – Suzie Thorn

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming oboist Suzie Thorn to Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

Hello, I’m Suzie Thorn – I play the Oboe and Cor Anglais.

I was born in Birmingham but we moved to Essex when I was just a few months old. I studied at the Royal College of Music and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. I have played with many of the major Symphony and Opera orchestras in the UK and have really enjoyed exploring the very varied “popular music” repertoire with the John Wilson Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Most of my time is now taken up playing principal oboe with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin.

Chamber music has always been a major part of my life and I do try to meet up with my sisters, Becky and Tammy, to play wind trios (we perform as ‘The Rose Trio’) whenever we can.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

Although I’ve really enjoyed playing, performing and recording many of Poulenc’s chamber works I have never played the ‘Le Bal Masqué’ (for Baritone and chamber ensemble). Poulenc is one of my favourite composers so this will be a highlight.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

I have a busy schedule of concerts and recordings with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra – the music is always incredibly varied. Although most of the concerts are in Dublin we do occasionally travel to other venues around Ireland. Later this year though we are off to China! We will be giving concerts in Nanjing, Suzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Beijing.”

2017 Performer Profiles: Marta Fontanals-Simmons

No.5 – Marta Fontanals-Simmons

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Mezzo-Soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons to Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do

I am a mezzo soprano, from Somerset originally with English and Spanish roots (hence the long name!). I went to the University of Birmingham to study Music and then the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for postgraduate vocal training and opera training. I now live with my fiancé in St Leonards-on-Sea. This summer I have performed the completely contrasting roles of Cherubino with Garsington Opera and Cenerentola with Diva Opera, touring the UK and France.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I have worked with Marcus and Alison many times and had the pleasure of performing Handel Messiah at Southwell in December. It is a magical place and I am delighted to be part of the Festival this year and experience the town in the summer. I am really looking forward to performing Zwei Gesänge by Brahms. I can’t wait to work with Libby Burgess and Lena Eckels on these stunning songs.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

After Southwell, I will be taking part in the Wigmore Song Competition with Lana Bode, then during the Autumn I will be giving recitals in London, Paris and around the UK and in January I head to Teatro Real Madrid for six weeks to perform Jennie Hildebrand in Street Scene by Kurt Weill.”

youtube.com/user/martameritxell

2017 Performer Profiles: Maia Cabeza

No.4 – Maia Cabeza

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming violinist Maia Cabeza to Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

Hello! My name is Maia Cabeza and I’m a violinist based in Berlin. I play in a variety of ensembles, doing a mix of solo, chamber and orchestral performing. I am especially passionate about chamber music, and feel lucky that I have the chance to regularly meet and collaborate with interesting musicians who come from different backgrounds and offer unique musical perspectives. This will be my first time to Southwell Music Festival, but I am already looking forward to meeting new people and performing great music!

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I actually love all the pieces I will be playing, but I’m particularly excited about playing Poulenc’s “Le Bal Masque”, a song cycle for baritone and chamber ensemble set to poems by the French surrealist poet Max Jacob. Not only is it an incredibly fun and absurd piece, but the instrumentation is rather large for a chamber group, making the opportunity to perform it this summer a special one!

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

In the next months I’ll be playing a lot of chamber music, including several concerts and a festival with a quartet in Switzerland. This fall I will also be guest leading a couple of projects with Aurora Orchestra in London, which I’m very excited about! Another highlight is a week at “Open Chamber Music” in Prussia Cove, Cornwall. This is a special place that I’ve been regularly going to for the last 7 years, where the beautiful landscape serves as the perfect inspiration for fulfilling music making.”

maiacabeza.com

Maia is supported at the Southwell Music Festival by Tarisio.

‘Tarisio is a leading specialist in fine instruments and bows. With offices in London and New York, we are pleased to help today’s great players find outstanding instruments.’ tarisio.com

Top Tips for Festival Goers

Free programme book!

We have produced a sumptuous souvenir programme book as the perfect companion for your Festival enjoyment.  Running to more than 100 glossy pages it provides a wealth of information about the music, the performers and much else besides.  And it will grace any coffee table in style.  Call us crazy but we are giving it away.  Preferably in return for a minimum donation of £5.

 

 


Souvenirs

Talking of souvenirs we will once again have branded tote bags, mugs and other high quality items on sale at the merchandising stall at each concert.

 

 

 

 

 


Special offers

Several local restaurants and other eateries are extending a warm welcome to Festival goers with special offers on production of the programme book.

 

 

 

 


Half the events are free

In addition to the ticketed Festival events there is a programme of fringe concerts around the town, a Friday lunchtime concert in the Minster, the Masterclass in the State Chamber on Saturday morning, and on Monday afternoon the performance of Mozart’s Vespers and Matthew Martin’s Bank Holiday organ recital. All free with no ticket required.

And that’s not including four wonderful church services in the Minster on Sunday and Monday. See the festival brochure or go here for details.


Opinions win prizes

Your views and valuable to us and help us when planning future festivals.  So please let us know what you think by completing the questionnaire available at Festival concerts and enter our prize draw.  The winner will receive a case of great wine thanks to the kind support of Mr and Mrs Fine Wine.

 

 

 


Christmas concert 

And don’t forget to book tickets for the concert that marks the start of Christmas 2017 – A Christmas Celebration on Friday 22nd December at 7.30pm with the Southwell Festival Voices, Marcus Farnsworth (conductor), and David Oakes (reader).  From Hildegard of Bingen to Irving Berlin and from Charles Dickens to Wendy Cope.  Tickets will be on sale at the Festival shop and online during the Festival.

2017 Performer Profiles: James Cheung

No.3 – James Cheung

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming pianist James Cheung back to Southwell Music Festival.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

Hello, I’m a pianist based in Kensal Rise in North West London. Since my student days in London and Moscow I’ve been mainly playing chamber music here and abroad in recitals with instrumentalists and singers. Recently I was also teaching at the Banff centre in Canada.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I’m really looking forward to playing in the Fauré piano quintet and Brahms horn trio. I love the feeling of making music at summer festivals. People coming together from across the world and making music together in quite a spontaneous way. Often strangers before the rehearsals but friends after the performance. It’s a really nice process.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

The next few months are pretty busy for me. I have a tour with the baritone Christian Gerhaher with recitals at the Concertgebouw and Wigmore Hall and in Dusseldorf and Cambridge. Performances at Blackheath Halls and the Oxford Lieder Festival of Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch with Marcus and Alison which is something we’ve been wanting to do for ages but haven’t found the time till now. I’m setting up a mixed genre concert series with my friend Leo Abrahams (watch this space!) and I also have a son who is nearly 3 so even if I didn’t have anything else to do I’d still be totally exhausted!”

2017 Performer Profiles: Katherine Bryan

No.2 – Katherine Bryan

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming flautist Katherine Bryan to Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Katherine Bryan and I am a flautist. I’m based in Glasgow as I am Principal Flautist of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, as well as being lucky enough to have a career as a soloist, which keeps me travelling around when I’m not wearing my orchestral hat. I also teach at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Chethams School of Music in Manchester.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

Everything! I’ve got a real mixture of things to play which is lovely. I’m really excited about performing Villa Lobos Bachianas Brasilieras no 6 with Amy Harman – I’ve worked with Amy before, but in a full orchestra not in a duo, so this will be a lot of fun! The flute part is really tricky, but I enjoy the challenge. Also, I couldn’t not love Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro – a flute player not liking Ravel is almost unheard of! It’s a beautiful piece played by a gorgeous combination of instruments.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

I’m releasing my fourth solo album in October which is exciting. It’s a set of opera arias that I transcribed for flute and orchestra, alongside a couple of great opera fantasy pieces. I recorded it with the orchestra of Opera North and the album will be released on the Chandos label. That combined with a busy orchestra schedule, and few recitals and an awful lot of teaching should keep me busy for a few months!”

www.katherinebryan.com

2017 Performer Profiles: Thomas Herford

No.1 – Thomas Herford (tenor)

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2017 Southwell Music Festival.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming tenor Thomas Herford back to Southwell Music Festival.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

I’m Thomas Herford, a tenor based in London. Like most of my colleagues here at Southwell, I’m a proper freelancer. I’m lucky to have a very broad, challenging and fulfilling singing career, performing both as a soloist and an ensemble singer with some amazing colleagues. An important part of my work is being a key member of the baroque ensemble ‘Solomon’s Knot’, performing, among other things, many of the great oratorios by heart and without a conductor. Lots of people think we’re mad to do this, but singing the whole St John Passion from memory (chorus, arias and Evangelist) at Bach’s own church in Arnstadt recently was a genuine life highlight! I also sing quite a lot of opera – I love acting – and the rest of my time is filled with Monteverdi Choir projects and other bits and bobs. So, a big mixture, and I feel very fortunate.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

My two main things this year are Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri and Poulenc’s Figure Humaine, and I’m looking forward to both of them hugely! The Buxtehude, one of the earliest pieces that can be recognised as an Oratorio, is a deeply moving meditation on the various different parts of Jesus’s crucified body, and the Poulenc is a shattering response to the Nazi occupation of France, by turns despairing and patriotic. It’s going to be an intense week therefore, and I’m excited about having the chance to dig deeply into these seminal pieces.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?”

The coming months are a bit crazy. Lots of Bach (St John Passion evangelists in Switzerland, my first St Matthew evangelist in Christchurch Priory, a tour of the B Minor Mass with Solomon’s Knot), a Salieri opera called ‘La Scuola di Gelosi’, a staged Gesualdo and Monteverdi madrigal show in Italy, and a tour of Scotland with I Fagiolini and the Scottish Ensemble. Another highlight is a performance of Handel’s Saul in nearby Nottingham at the end of November. Hope to see some of you there!