Marcus Farnsworth conducts Southwell Festival Voices

Late Night at the Festival

Marcus Farnsworth conducts Southwell Festival VoicesA special highlight of last year’s Festival was the late night candlelit sequence of words and choral music – a rare chance to experience the profound tranquillity of Southwell Minster after dark.

This year’s Festival offers three contrasting opportunities to enjoy superb music making in this very special atmosphere.

In Voices on Water on Thursday 27th August the Festival Voices chamber choir will tackle three peaks of contemporary choral repertoire under the direction of Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth – Richard Rodney Bennett’s Sea Change, Poulenc’s Un soir de neige and Eric Whitacre’s Cloudburst.

Marcus says: “These are three great peaks of the 20th century choral repertoire that I have wanted to perform for ages but until now have not had a choir equal to the particular challenges they present.  It should be quite a ride.”

Fitting with the Elements theme at this year’s Festival the three pieces form part of a sequence of words and music which celebrates the power and beauty of water – a seascape, snowbound solitude and a breathtaking journey through the eye of a storm.  The actress presenting the words is Victoria Newlyn.

Though rarely performed due to their vocal demands Cloudburst can be heard at the Proms on Sunday 9th August under the direction of the composer who kindly found time to record an enthusiastic message to the Festival.

The second late night concert – on Friday 28th August – presents The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross by Joseph Haydn in the arrangement for string quartet.

This astonishing piece of string quartet writing shows Haydn at his most profound and most revolutionary: a meditation on each of the seven words closing with a musical representation of the earthquake which followed the death of Jesus.

The work will be performed by the Southwell Festival Chamber Soloists led by Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell with Biblical texts read by Owen Sparkes.  The performance will be given in the round beneath the Minster’s great central tower.

The third late night event in the Minster (Sunday 30th August) sees the first appearance at the Festival of the Minster Choir.  The men of the choir – the Lay Clerks – will sing the ancient office of Compline.

All three events begin at 10pm.  Admission to Compline is free however tickets for the first two events can be purchased at the Minster Shop (01636 812933).