Get a glimpse into what to expect at this year’s Petersfield Musical Festival

This year’s Petersfield Musical Festival is showcasing a panoply of musical talent from a jazz sextet and a Boy Band tribute group right up to a full-size symphony orchestra and two flagship choral concerts. A total of eleven concerts are on offer from 15th – 23rd March in the Festival Hall and St. Peter’s Church.

PMF started life as a choral collaboration over a century ago and this tradition is being kept alive by the two Saturday concerts when local choirs will sing large-scale works. On Saturday 16th March, the Festival Chorus with Fernhurst and Petersfield Choral Societies, accompanied by Southern Pro Musica, present the unfinished masterpiece Mass in C Minor by Mozart. The soloists include soprano Sofia Ticciati (pictured), who returns to the Festival for a second time. The programme will also include Mozart’s Sympony No. 49.

The following Saturday, 23rd March, features A Century of English Music with works ranging from Elgar’s much-loved Serenade for Strings to lesser known works by Ireland and the Magnificat by Rutter. Audiences will be intrigued by the early 20th century work Hierusalem by George Dyson, who was director of music at Winchester College in the 1920’s. Hierusalem has a particular and unexpected relevance to the current war in the Middle East. The Festival chorus will by joined by Nova Foresta Classical Players and both choral concerts will be conducted by Paul Spicer.

“This year’s Festival has two wonderfully different concerts. It is always a huge privilege to be able to direct a performance of Mozart’s great C minor Mass, which was left tantalisingly unfinished at his death,” said Paul Spicer. “At the end of the Festival, we have a concert of English music by Elgar, Dyson, Ireland and Rutter. I think the opening prelude of the Dyson is one of the loveliest pieces of string writing I know from this period. Of course, when we planned this concert we didn’t know that Jerusalem was going to be so centre stage in world news, and praying for the ‘peace of Jerusalem’ is very much needed at present.”

The Petersfield Orchestra takes to the stage on Thursday 21th March with a section of 20th century favourites including Smetana, Rachmaninov’s Piano concerto No.2 and Dvorak’s 8th Symphony under the baton of Robin Browning.

Those looking for smaller scale chamber music may enjoy and organ recital by Richard Pearce in St. Peter’s Church on Wednesday 20th March. Richard is performing a selection of works by Franck, Elgar and Bach. Entry is free with a retiring collection in aid of the Festival.

A lunch-time recital in St. Peter’s on 19th March will showcase recipients of grants from the Michael Hurd Fund for Young Musicians, with talented young musicians performing both song and instrumental pieces. Entry is free.

The gemini consort is performing music including Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater together with choral works by 20th century and contemporary composers including John Tavener and Esenvalds.

Families with younger children will be entertained by the Family Concert on 17th March which is themed around music written about or for royalty. Fit for a King explores music with a royal connection from the Queen of Sheba to Elsa and Anna. Stephen Scotchmer conducts the Basingstoke Symphony Orchestra.

For the first time in several years, the Festival is hosting a jazz concert. The Music of Art Blakey will perform hits from the jazz legend, performed by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Sestet. The concert takes place on Friday 22nd March in the Festival Hall.

Singers and instrumentalists from local schools will get their share of the limelight in the two Youth Concerts on 18th and 20th March. These concerts are a regular feature of the Festival, designed to promote active participation amongst budding musical talent in the area.

This year’s Festival opens with Encore Choirs, a collection of choirs which bring amateur singers together. The concert features popular songs from musicals, folk and pop. Legends, in the same concert, is the UK’s ultimate Boy Band Tribute act, and they are guaranteed to get you dancing with hit numbers from Backstreet Boys, Take That and the Jackson 5.

Tickets are on sale now.

Image: Sofia Ticciati , credit Vernon Nash

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