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.

2019 Performer Profiles: Marianne Schofield

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2019 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming double-bassist Marianne Schofield to the Southwell Music Festival.”

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

My name is Marianne and I am a freelance double bass player based in West London. I’m lucky to lead a really varied work life, performing and touring with lots of different UK orchestras and chamber groups. I also enjoy the challenge of playing a lot of contemporary music, which can usually be relied upon to be a good workout for bass players! I am a founder member of the quartet The Hermes Experiment (which is an unusual line-up of soprano, harp, clarinet and double bass) and I am also an artistic board member of Riot Ensemble.

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

I always find Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 really special to perform; although the scope and emotional depth of the piece is huge, it still has so much lightness and a chamber music feel to it. I’m also looking forward to playing Handel’s Israel in Egypt on a gut string bass on the Saturday!

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

I’m currently in the final (slightly panicky) stages of memorising Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique for memorised performances coming up with Aurora Orchestra, including at the BBC Proms in September. I’m also currently learning the aptly-titled Fury for double bass solo by Rebecca Saunders, as well as preparing to record The Hermes Experiment’s debut album in the Autumn, which is very exciting!

2019 Performer Profiles: Joseph Doody

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2019 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming tenor Joseph Doody to the Southwell Music Festival.”

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

I’m Joseph Doody, a tenor originally from Shipley in West Yorkshire, living the freelance life in southeast London now. Opera has been taking up most of my time lately, but I also do concerts with choirs, and I’m a member of the choir of Lincoln’s Inn chapel in Holborn, so I sing Sunday services too.

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

I’m really looking forward to Israel in Egypt on the 24th. Handel is one of my favourite composers, and it’s a great English oratorio but isn’t performed that often. I’ve only done it once before, and it was so much I was dying to do it again as soon as it was over! I’m also really looking forward to performing in the opera gala on the 22nd, which will be a nice contrast. I love singing duets and ensembles with friends.

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

Coming up I have quite a few concerts with choral societies, including The Creation and The Seasons by Haydn, and Handel’s Messiah. I’m also making my Welsh National Opera debut in The Cunning Little Vixen, playing The Mosquito and covering a few other roles, so that should be fun.

2019 Performer Profiles: Claire Wickes

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2019 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming flautist Claire Wickes to the Southwell Music Festival.”

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

My name is Claire Wickes, I grew up in Croydon and I now live up the road from there in Tooting, though I went via Manchester and Oxford. I’m the Principal Flute of the English National Opera Orchestra, and I absolutely love working alongside singers every day – I spend most of my time trying to emulate them on the flute. In addition to my work at ENO I love getting out of the pit and playing Guest Principal with other orchestras, and I also try to fit in as much chamber music and solo playing as I can. When I’m not working I take any opportunity to go travelling – I’ve backpacked around Sri Lanka and India, and hitch-hiked my way from London to Morocco. Next on my agenda is Vietnam!

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

I’m excited about so much of the repertoire in this year’s festival, but if I had to pick one thing out it would be the Poulenc sextet. I’ve never performed this piece and I can’t wait to rehearse and explore it. Poulenc’s Flute Sonata, which I’m also looking forward to performing in the festival, is so full of contradictions – to me it’s bittersweet, constantly ebbing and flowing between nostalgia, melancholy and occasional moments of almost hysterical joyfulness. It forces the performer to constantly change masks, adapting to whichever personality the music takes on moment to moment; I’ll be really interested to see whether the sextet has a similar energy.

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

We’re on the brink of starting a busy season at ENO, with a series of operas inspired by the orpheus myth including Harrison Birtwhistle’s Mask of Orpheus – the instrumentation requires pretty much every wind instrument you can think of, so I’ll be playing alto and bass flute which will be a fun change! In the coming months I’m hugely looking forward to performing some of the Brandenburg concertos – it’s always a pleasure to play Bach, and I feel especially lucky to share the stage with incredibly talented colleagues.

2019 Performer Profiles: Jennifer Clark

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2019 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming soprano Jennifer Clark to the Southwell Music Festival.”

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

My name is Jen Clark and I’m based in Tring, Hertfordshire. I’m a freelance soprano with a primary focus on opera, having sung with WNO, The Grange Festival and Bury Court Opera among others, though I also do a lot of oratorio and consort work. I tend to play children, fairies and the occasional comic heroine – kid roles and high notes, really – which I love! I’ve just finished a really interesting season with The Grange Festival in collaboration with The Sixteen, staging Handel’s ‘Belshazzar’ for the first time in the UK, which was a groundbreaking and rewarding project.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?
This is my first year at Southwell and I’m really excited about taking part in some fantastic music-making. I expect Handel will be the highlight for me this year, though I’ve rather enjoyed preparing two particularly cheeky Britten duets – ‘Soldier won’t you marry me’ and ‘The Deaf Woman’s Courtship’. They’re bursting with character and have a playfulness that I really like. I’m also looking forward to getting to know ‘Israel in Egypt’, and to singing some arias from ‘Messiah’, ‘Jeptha’ and ‘Acis and Galatea’.
3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?
There are a few interesting firsts for me this year – my first Prom, Berlioz ‘L’Enfance du Christ’ with Britten Sinfonia Voices, and my first Mabel (in ‘The Pirates of Penzance’.) I’ve always been drawn to comic soprano roles and this one has been on my list for some time, so I’m particularly looking forward to exploring it. In the spring, I’ll be making my company debut with Opera North, singing Flora in Britten’s ‘The Turn of the Screw.’ The role is an old favourite – I sang it first in Budapest, and again earlier this year at Bury Court, so it will be interesting to revisit it in a new production.
southwell music festival

The Musicians of Southwell Music Festival

Southwell Music Festival is a special music festival. One of the key reasons for this is that the musicians who come to perform in the town are resident here for much of the festival and take part in a number of different events. This is not a festival with a carousel of touring acts for whom Southwell is another show along their road. No, Southwell is almost unique in welcoming musicians who, in their turn, treat the town like home for the duration.

This short film (by Simon Platts) we’re publishing today reflects that experience from the perspective of these terrific musicians who visit Southwell for the festival – this year about 100 leading professional singers and players from across Britain and further afield. We really hope that it gives you a fresh perspective on Southwell Music Festival and encourages you to come and be part of all the wonderful events that the town has to offer over the August Bank Holiday weekend every year.

Learn more about Southwell Music Festival events via southwellmusicfestival.com/events

So much great music to enjoy

It’s August! And with three weeks to go until the 2019 Festival I’ve been reminded how much absolutely wonderful music we have planned.

So we invite you to take 10 minutes for a tour of this year’s repertoire in just 20 musical samples – from the elegance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade to the groove of Michael Torke’s Adjustable Wrench; from the evocative folk fiddle of Aidan O’Rourke to the soaring solo violin of The Lark Ascending; from the passion of James MacMillan’s a capella O Bone Jesu to the energetic choral and orchestral writing of Handel’s Israel in Egypt; from the drama of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden string quartet to the equally dramatic symphonies of Mendelssohn and Mahler.

You can hear this on our Spotify playlist at https://www.southwellmusicfestival.com/events/ where you can also find full concert details. And if you want to enjoy more than the 30 second clip then sign up to Spotify to hear each track in full. It’s a great chance to be reminded of music you already know and love or to be surprised by something that had previously passed you by.

All this and more awaits you in Southwell from Wednesday 21 to Monday 26 August. I’m looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks time: there is much for us to enjoy together.

Marcus Farnsworth
Artistic Director

Making the most of the Minster

Southwell Minster is at the heart of the Festival and over the years we have learned how to make the most of its wonderful spaces.

The relative intimacy of the Quire and Crossing make them perfect spaces in which to showcase the individual skills of the Festival’s unique ensemble of around 100 visiting professional singers and players. The gentle bloom on the Quire acoustic makes it ideal for strings and vocal music.

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell continues to attract some of the best string players around and the Festival Sinfonia Strings have created some of our most memorable concerts. Their programme this year (Thursday 22 and Friday 23 August) is built around Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular Serenade for Strings with other works by Rameau, Shostakovich and the African-American George Walker intriguingly interpolated between the movements.

The late night a cappella concerts by the wonderful Festival Voices have always been at the emotional heart of the Festival. Voices of Faith (Thursday 22 August) features masterpieces by the leading Catholic composers of the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and II, William Byrd and James MacMillan. This concert also marks the latter’s 60th birthday.

An exciting innovation is that award-winning composer and organist Kit Downes will improvise organ interludes reflecting on and linking the choral items.

Kit also features in another of this year’s innovations when he joins award-winning Scottish fiddler Aidan O’Rourke on the harmonium for our first late night folk concert (Wednesday 21st). Scottish folk tunes are given a contemporary twist in their collaboration which you can sample here. The Quire late night will lend its own intensity to the atmosphere of this special occasion.

The late night Minster atmosphere will also contribute to the impact of Schubert’s famous string quartet masterpiece Death and the Maiden performed in the Crossing on Friday 23 August.

However our first event in the Quire is a recital on the Quire organ by the Minster’s brilliant Assistant Director of Music Simon Hogan (Wednesday 21 August). His virtuoso programme has a strong American connection built around Marcel Dupré’s monumental Symphonie-Passion.

The full Festival programme – including more events in the Quire – is available at www.southwellmusicfestival.com . Tickets can be purchased via the website, on 01636 330014 or at the Southwell Cathedral Shop.

Enjoy our largest performances

One way to ensure there are enough tickets to meet public demand is to put on more concerts in the Nave of the Minster – our largest auditorium.

The Nave is ideal for concerts involving many musicians and/or attracting the largest audiences. This year we have two opportunities to show off our wonderful ensemble of around 100 professional singers and players who come from across the UK and Europe, many returning each year.

We do so on our opening evening (Wednesday 21 August) when we present our first symphony concert comprising two highly attractive and dramatic works – Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and the Fourth Symphony of Gustav Mahler.

We’ve called the programme ‘Symphonic Journeys’ as the Mendelssohn is the young composer’s high-spirited musical journal reflecting his first experience of Italy. Mahler’s journey takes us from the outdoor everyday world of sunlight and bird calls to the gates of heaven.

All our singers and players come together for our Saturday night choral and orchestral extravaganza. This year we present our first Handel oratorio – Israel in Egypt. People who enjoy Messiah will love this semi-operatic retelling of how the Israelites escaped from Egypt, with its dramatic double choruses, virtuoso solos and colourful orchestration.

By coincidence both symphonies and the Handel have featured recently in Radio 3’s Building a Library series. This is a great place to learn more about these wonderful pieces. Follow the links below and don’t be put off by the trail at the start:

Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 Italian

Mahler Symphony No. 4

Handel Israel in Egypt

We are also using the Nave for two concerts of chamber music. The Saturday lunchtime celebrity recital has become another regular part of the Festival programme and this year I’m delighted to welcome violin virtuoso Jennifer Pike – a former BBC Young Musician and now an international performing and recording artist. Her wonderful programme includes Vaughan Williams’ best-loved work The Lark Ascending.

Then on the Sunday night we use the Nave to present a programme of brilliant American chamber classics, including Copland’s evocative ballet score Appalachian Spring which concludes with the Shaker tune made famous by Sydney Carter in his hymn ‘Lord of the Dance’.

Tickets are selling well for all performances via www.southwellmusicfestival.com/onlinebooking, 01636 330014, or at the Southwell Cathedral Shop.

Lottery Funding for Festival

A message from Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth:

“I’m delighted to announce that the 2019 Festival will be supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

“This is the first time we have received such support and is a huge step forward for the Festival, and one that we have been building towards for some time.

“We are most grateful for this recognition of what we have created so far – a festival of an incredibly high standard which has palpable benefits for the local community, and of which Hugh Canning, Chief Classical Music Critic of The Sunday Times has said: ‘…Southwell can already equal, even surpass, more established festivals. The artistic results are remarkable’.

“No festival of this kind can survive on box office income alone and our achievement in presenting five increasingly successful festivals has only been possible with the extraordinarily generous support of the local community – with private individuals sponsoring performances and musicians, an increasing number of Festival Friends, and the indispensable in-kind contribution of our hosts and volunteers.

“This year box office income will account for 39% of total costs (a relatively high proportion) and we will again be most generously supported by the community. However, if the Festival is to continue developing, we need additional support which is why help from the National Lottery through Arts Council England is so significant.

“This £15,000 grant will contribute to artistic, administrative and audience development – help in funding our wonderful ensemble of 100 outstanding professional singers and players; funding for professional festival management to direct and support our band of volunteers; and enabling a variety of marketing initiatives.”

To find out more about the work of Arts Council England please visit www.artscouncil.org.uk

Programme and booking information for the 2019 Southwell Music Festival is available at www.southwellmusicfestival.com or from the Cathedral Shop.