Marcus talks to Nottingham Post about ‘summer’s classiest music festival’

Today the Nottingham Post have published an interview with our Artistic Director, Marcus Farnsworth, about the Southwell Music Festival, which Marcus set up six years ago. Marcus spoke with the editor of the Nottingham Post, Mike Sassi, who was able to experience the festival at first hand when he attended the popular Come & Sing event on the final day of this year’s festival.

Sunday Times Culture Review, 2019 Festival

We were pleased that the Chief Classical Music Critic of the Sunday Times, Hugh Canning was able to join us for this year’s Southwell Music Festival. He was able to see events over a couple of days, and drew the conclusion that Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth’s achievement is to have delivered

a week of chamber, choral and orchestral music of remarkably high standards, considering that all the programmes are custom-made for Southwell, true festival events that can’t be experienced elsewhere.

In particular, Canning felt that the performance of Israel in Egypt was “hard to forget” and, on the innovative programming that characterised a number of the events at this year’s festival, he was notably impressed by the Strings in the Quire, saying:

“Even more experimental was Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, linked with contrasting pieces including a movement from Shostakovich’s Second Quartet, an aria from a Rameau opera and REM’s I’ve Been High, arranged by the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Richard Tognetti. It shouldn’t have worked, but the Tchaikovsky movements were so well played that it proved the festival highlight.”

Subscribers to the Times and Sunday Times can read the review in full here.

Record-Breaking Success

Audiences, performers and organisers have all expressed delight at the success of the 2019 Southwell Music Festival which took place over the August Bank Holiday.

This sixth annual festival, which was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, broke a number of records: around 3,900 tickets were sold in total; the value of ticket sales increased by 13%; more than 1,200 people attended the free Fringe concerts and £3,088 was raised via bucket collections to support the Southwell Live at Home Scheme. More than 70 local families hosted visiting musicians for the week.

For the first time a Festival Marquee was provided in the Education Garden adjoining the Archbishop’s Palace and proved to be a popular meeting place for audiences and performers.

Festival Founder and Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth said:

“Southwell, the Minster and massively enthusiastic support from the local community make our Festival special – and indeed possible.

“What makes the Festival unique artistically is the ensemble of 100 of the best professional musicians who come from all over the UK and Europe and work their musical socks off for seven days to create world-class performances of choral, orchestral and chamber concerts.

“Our audiences love it – and they are growing in number; and so do the musicians who look forward to returning year after year.

“Every year we say that particular festival was the best yet – and there is no doubt that this was the case in 2019.

“The remark by Hugh Canning, Chief Classical Music Critic of The Sunday Times, that the Festival is ‘…a community event of an outstandingly high standard’ remains as true as ever and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who helped make it so.”

London-based mezzo-soprano Judy Brown evidently spoke for many performers when she said on Twitter: “There aren’t enough superlatives to describe @Southwell_Music – it is an absolute phenomenon. It gets better and better every year, thanks to the tireless efforts of every single person on and off stage. It is truly a joy and my heart swells with pride that I get to be part of it.”

If you attended the 2019 Festival and would like to give feedback please visit www.southwellmusicfestival.com/feedback to complete a short questionnaire.

The 2020 Festival will take place from Wednesday 26 to Monday 31 August.

Annual Southwell Music Festival ‘an absolute phenomenon’

Yesterday’s print edition of the Newark Advertiser carried a front and double page spread about the 2019 Southwell Music Festival. ‘Festival success!’ referred to the 36 events, National Lottery funding and the enthusiasm of audiences and performers alike, summed up in interview with returning mezzo-soprano Judy Brown, who said:

“There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the Southwell Music Festival ­— it is an absolute phenomenon. It gets better and better every year, thanks to the tireless efforts of every single person on and off stage. It is truly a joy and my heart swells with pride that I get to be part of it.

Read this and other reviews and articles about the Southwell Music Festival via our Press page. Next year’s Southwell Music Festival once again takes place over the bank holiday weekend, 26-31 August. Before then there is the chance to hear the Southwell Festival Voices in concert at the Minster for their now-annual Christmas Celebration concert on 20 December at 7.30pm.

Sometimes mystifying, always engrossing

The 2019 Southwell Music Festival. Photo: Dick Makin Imaging

William Ruff’s final concert review of the 2019 Southwell Music Festival was of our Sunday night chamber concert of American music: Sounds of the New World. Mr Ruff’s summed up his own experience with

As I was leaving the Minster I overheard comments such as: ‘Did you hear those lovely woodwind solos?’  It was that sort of concert: small-scale, subtle; sometimes mystifying, always engrossing.

You can read this and other reviews and articles concerning both this Southwell Music Festival and previous festivals via the Press page.

Southwell an August paradise for music-lovers

Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth conducts the Come & Sing event on the final day of the 2019 Southwell Music Festival. Photo: Dick Makin Imaging

The Nottingham Post’s classical music critic William Ruff visited Southwell Music Festival on a number of occasions this week. The performances have left quite an impression – in a 5* star review for the Post the wrote:

“Exceptional performances, imaginative programming, superb presentation: all combine to make Southwell an August paradise for music-lovers”

Mr Ruff enjoyed the Symphonic, Choral and Chamber concerts on offer in Southwell Minster during a week of around 35 events, half of which were free. He had this advice for those interested in visiting Southwell Music Festival in future:

“There’s really no need to choose between concerts: just book for them all.”

To read this review and others, visit the Press page.

 

Five Star Opening Concert to 2019 Festival

Soprano Alison Rose and conductor Marcus Farnsworth with the Southwell Festival Sinfonia performing Mahler Symphony no. 4 at the 2019 Southwell Music Festival. Photo: Dick Makin Imaging

Last night our Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth conducted symphonies by Mendelssohn and Mahler in the opening evening concert of the 2019 Southwell Music Festival. William Ruff of the Nottingham Post was here once again and found the concert to be a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ experience, writing that

The Festival is back after a long year of high expectations and the first night concert had sackfuls of the ingredients audiences have come to expect: the highest standards of performance mixed with meticulous attention to detail both onstage and off.

You can read the rest of the review via reviewsgate.com (prior to its appearance in print in the Nottingham Post at the end of the week).

For your convenience…

We hope the following information may assist those attending this week’s Festival.

Festival marquee

We are delighted to announce the debut of the Festival Marquee –- to be found in the beautiful surroundings of the Education Garden on the south side of the Minster. We trust it will become a popular meeting place for audiences and performers alike.

The Marquee will be in operation from Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25 August. Opening at 4pm each day (noon on Saturday) the Marquee will remain open until 11pm and will be the place for drinks at concert time.

A full bar service, including draught beer, is being provided by the Blue Monkey Brewery from Nottingham. In addition the Batch Tea Company will provide tea-based cocktails and other drinks.

Additional toilet facilities will also be available in the Education Garden.

Tickets

From Monday 19 August Festival tickets may be purchased at the Festival Hub and will not be available at the Cathedral Shop. The Hub is located opposite the south door of the Minster outside the Archbishop’s Palace. Opening times: Monday 19 – Sunday 25 August, 9am – 7pm and Monday 26 August until lunchtime.

To ensure you have your tickets in time, please choose the ‘e-ticket’ option when booking online this week so you can print your tickets at home. Alternatively tickets bought within four working days of an event will be held for collection at the Festival Hub.

Please note: to purchase tickets at the time of a performance please go to the Hub rather than the venue, apart from performances at The Stage at the Old Theatre Deli. This also applies to the collection of tickets.

Travel disruption

If you are travelling to Southwell from the west over the coming week please leave extra time as roads in the Edingley, Halam and Kirklington Road areas are likely to be closed for repair until Friday evening. Diversions are signposted but may add significant time to your journey. There may also be inconvenient road closures in the Newark area.

Visitors coming from London and the south by train will no doubt be aware that there are no trains from London Kings Cross on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August and there is likely to be knock-on disruption on Monday 26 August. The alternative is to travel from London St Pancras to Nottingham, take a train to Fiskerton and a five minute taxi ride from there (01636 525252); alternatively take the Nottingham City Transport Pathfinder (Bus 100) from Nottingham city centre to Southwell.

2019 Performer Profiles: Adi Tal

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming cellist Adi Tal to the Southwell Music Festival.

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

My name is Adi Tal. I am an Israeli born cellist, based in London for the past 12 years. I am a member of Fidelio Trio and the West Eastern Divan Orchestra, and frequently perform with Aurora Orchestra and Camerata Tchaikovsky.

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

I am very much looking forward to Sunday’s concert ‘American Chamber Classics’ programme. Copland’s Appalacian Spring was a piece I had studied some years ago in music literature class as part of my undergraduate course in the States, and I am really excited to finally get to perform it.

In that same programme I will also be performing Michael Torke’s Adjustable Wrench, which gives me the opportunity to explore a composition which is much more Jazzy in character; something I haven’t had the chance of doing yet, so I am particularly looking forward to that.

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

I am looking forward to performing Schumann Andante and Variations with Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Ben Goldscheider and Astrig Siranossian in Salzburg Festival, as well as Fidelio Trio concerts at Bodrum Chamber Music Festival in Turkey, King’s Place, Music@Malling Festival, Sound Festival in Scotland, Neufchâtel concert series in Switzerland, as well as my trio’s annual winter chamber music festival in Dublin. Other exciting coming up projects include a tour of Germany and UK with Aurora Orchestra playing Berlioz Symphony Fantastique by heart, to be also performed in the BBC Proms twice in one night.

I am also excited to work with wonderful friends and colleagues during a week of Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove this coming September.

2019 Performer Profiles: Celine Saout

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Celine Saout to the Southwell Music Festival.

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

I play principal harp with the orchestra of Opera North. Based in Leeds.
I’m also a member with contemporary music ensemble based in Birmingham, BCMG.

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

I am most looking forward to performing Mahler 4.

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

Straight after the festival I am most looking forward to performing chamber music at the proms, Fantasia upon all the notes by Birtwistle. And beyond that, getting started on the new opera season with Martinu Greek passion and Britten Turn of the Screw later on.