For the latest amateur classical music listings in and around Portsmouth, including Fareham, Petersfield, Chichester, Havant and Hayling Island

Petworth Festival hoping for the best, but ready to take a hit

Organisers of the 2021 Petworth Festival are pinning their hopes on the lifting of all restrictions on July 19.

The festival will go ahead either way, but without full lifting, it will certainly take a hit.

Stewart Collins, Petworth Festival’s artistic director, has put together an exciting programme on a scale similar to the programme he would have been offering in a normal year.

The problem, of course, is that this is not a normal year.

Read more at the link below.

Events will run between July 14 and 31.

The wide-ranging line-up of leading musicians and performers includes:

· Classical star-of-the-moment, saxophonist Jess Gillam, who appears with her new ensemble as part of their debut tour

· Multi-million selling author, comedian and former NHS doctor Adam Kay who brings his West End hit show This is Going to Hurt

· Living legends on the blues circuit, The Blues Band, fronted by Paul Jones who perform in the atmospheric Stable Yard of Petworth House

· Theatre-cabaret show Radio Live! a romp through 50 years of BBC Radio with Alistair McGowan, The Rev Richard Coles, Garry (‘here’s Garry with the sport’) Richardson, Charlotte Green and special guest Joe Stilgoe

· The Petworth Festival Summer Weekend, two days of free family theatre, hands-on participatory workshops, street acts and live music staged in the Pleasure Garden of Petworth House by permission of the National Trust

The box office is online 24/7 at www.petworthfestival.org.uk or on 01798 344576 Tues-Sat, 10am-1pm.

 


Review: Stradivarius Piano Trio

The Stradivarius Piano Trio of Andrew Bernardi Jonathan Few and Maria Marchant performed a brilliant evening of music in Chichester as part of the celebrations.

With a carefully constructed programme including pieces by some female composers, Joanna Gill, Rebecca Clarke and Clara Schumann, the trio spoke about why the pieces had been chosen and what was special about them.

With solos, duets and trios, the passion and emotions of the musicians shone through.

For further details of their future concerts, see www.bernardimusicgroup.com.

Read more at the link below.


Rounding off Ports Fest 2021

The first weekend of July this year saw Ports Fest return to the city in the form of a three-day festival, comprising mainly of outdoor and free events to suit the current climate. Highlights included the face of the 2021 sea shanty revival, The Longest Johns, who headlined the opening concert on Friday night, and a splendidly engaging talk given specifically for Portsmouth schools by former children’s laureate Michael Rosen.

The long weekend also featured the work of many local artists, with several exhibitions and ‘open studio’ events taking place around the city, from Art Space Portsmouth, Aspex Portsmouth to Hotwalls Studios, Alice Hume’s Interactive Weaves and Portsmouth Cathedral being home to the Portsmouth Our Place exhibition. Saturday evenings show featured Duncan Sandilands who belted out the very best musical numbers alongside some of the best talent in Portsmouth.

Ports Fest hosted many workshops and performance opportunities for young people, perhaps most notably a collaboration between the London Mozart Players and various Portsmouth school choirs at the final sold-out concert on Sunday night.

The festival revolved around the theme ‘Remember, Reimagine, Reset’, and the events accordingly engaged with issues from protecting ocean wildlife with a performance by Circo Rum Ba Ba and their 50ft inflatable whale in the Guildhall Square, to remembering experiences of the pandemic through a multitude of art across the City.

Erica Smith the Festival Director “This year’s Ports Fest felt very different in lots of ways, but the vibe was incredibly powerful. We have had some amazing feedback about our events this year and so many people saying it is the first time they have been able to see live performance in so long. I am incredibly happy that we were able to go ahead and that’s with great thanks to our sponsors and partners who have supported us this year”.

Ports Fest 2022 will run between 30th June to 3rd July 2022.

Find out more about our ongoing vision at portsfest.co.uk.


The consolation of Bach at the Festival of Chichester

Pure, cathartic, reflective, they are also fantasy and adventure – and for cellist Pavlos Carvalho they have been an essential companion in life and even more so during the pandemic.

Pavlos is delighted to be returning to the Festival of Chichester once again this year to offer a concert of Bach Cello Suites. His solo recital will be in St Paul’s Church and Parish Centre on July 5 at 1pm.

As Pavlos says, the beauty and the perpetual sense of discovery that these solo cello suites bring with every performance have never ceased to capture the imagination of performers and listeners alike throughout the 300 years since they were composed.

Read more at the link below.


Truly special evening as Ensemble Reza delight Festival of Chichester audience

A wonderful concert from Mid Sussex’s Ensemble Reza underlined the importance of live music tonight to a delighted audience at the Festival of Chichester.

Their Russian Dreams programme in the Assembly Room in the Council House in North Street was delivered to a socially distanced audience – and was met with prolonged and deserved applause.

Read more at the link below.


The sun will be shining as Ports Fest 2021 gets going

Ports Fest starts today for three days of music, art, talks, and workshops, providing something for everyone.

This year, we are delighted to be able to offer you a reduced but varied programme to suit the current climate, featuring Covid safe outdoor, online, and free events. If you are hoping to seek out some artistic and cultural stimulation this summer, we hope that Ports Fest 2021 will be your starting point today!

The festival kicks off today with several events for Portsmouth schools, including an online live talk from former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, and an opportunity for pupils to grapple with our theme by debating whether we should reset to normality after COVID-19. In the evening, we will welcome Slapstick Picnic to the beautiful gardens of Portsmouth Museum for a reimagining of The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as host the face of the 2021 sea shanty revival, The Longest Johns, for the start of our outdoors concerts.

Saturday morning will see Art Space Portsmouth opening their 33 artists’ studios and renowned gallery, after which visitors might like to wander over to Portsmouth Cathedral for their annual ‘Seafood on the Green’ rustic picnic lunch and also pop inside to the exhibition by local school children, who have been creating giant 3D jigsaw pieces of their community for Portsmouth Our Place. Circo Rum Ba Ba will take over the Guildhall Square with an enormous inflatable sperm whale for their interactive theatre production about protecting the seas and resetting the planet.

Saturday evening will see a musical extravaganza, featuring Duncan Sandilands from vocal quartet G4 as both host and performer.

Ports Fest 2021 will go out with a bang on Sunday evening, with the London Mozart Players closing our concert series, and an open-air film screening of the documentary Drop City.

More details of all these, and many, many more events can be found on our website portsfest.co.uk. We cannot wait to see you there! Tickets are selling fast, and we can’t guarantee on the door ticket sales so to pre book www.portsfest.co.uk or call our box office on 0333 666 3366.

Ports Fest 2021 will run between Friday 2nd and Sunday 4th July.

Find out more about Ports Fest 2021 at portsfest.co.uk.

 


Exciting Festival of Chichester music series at the University

After the most frustrating and difficult of years, musicians at the University of Chichester will be getting the showcase they deserve as a new festival within the festival at this year’s Festival of Chichester.

The University of Chichester Conservatoire Summer season will bring together around 200 music students to give them some of the performance opportunities they have missed out on during the pandemic.

It is being organised by the University of Chichester’s head of orchestral studies Crispin Ward.

Events will be under the Giant Festival Canopy with the audience on the University’s Festival Field. Tickets through the Festival of Chichester.

Relates to:
Piers Adams with Orbita Baroque Orchestra, Sat 27 June
Acis and Galatea, Tues 30 June
Bond is Back: The Spectre Orchestra Play Bond, Fri 2 July

Read more at the link below.


Ports Fest 2021 Goes Live on 2-4 July – It’s Time to Remember, Reimagine, Reset

From 2– 4 July, Ports Fest will invite audiences to Remember, Reimagine, Reset with a festival of music, art, talks, and workshops, providing something for everyone.

Ports Fest is Portsmouth’s most established annual curated multi-arts festival. This year, we are delighted to be able to offer you a reduced but varied programme to suit the current climate, featuring outdoor, online, and free events. If you are hoping to seek out some artistic and cultural stimulation this summer, we hope that Ports Fest 2021 will be your starting point!

The festival kicks off on Friday 2nd July with several events for Portsmouth schools, including an online live talk from former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, and an opportunity for pupils to grapple with our theme of Remember, Reimagine, Reset by debating whether we should reset to normality after COVID-19. In the evening, we will welcome Slapstick Picnic to the beautiful gardens of Portsmouth Museum for a reimagining of The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as host the face of the 2021 sea shanty revival, The Longest Johns, for a concert in the PGS Quad.

Saturday morning will see Art Space Portsmouth opening their 33 artists’ studios and renowned gallery, after which visitors might like to wander over to Portsmouth Cathedral for their annual ‘Seafood on the Green’ rustic picnic lunch. In the afternoon, the author and journalist Will Self will be giving a live talk, whilst Circo Rum Ba Ba will take over the Guildhall Square with an enormous inflatable sperm whale for their interactive theatre production about protecting the seas and resetting the planet. Saturday evening will see a musical extravaganza, featuring Duncan Sandilands from vocal quartet G4 as both host and performer.

On Sunday, visitors might like to make the most of our many events running throughout the festival, such as the thought-provoking exhibition, In Search of Chemozoa at Aspex Gallery. Later, television presenter Michaela Strachan will join us live from South Africa to talk about her work spanning over three decades.

Ports Fest 2021 will go out with a bang on Sunday evening, with the London Mozart Players closing our concert series, and an open-air film screening of the documentary Drop City.

More details of all these, and many, many more events can be found on our website, portsfest.co.uk. We can’t wait to see you there!

Tickets go on sale Monday 24 May.

Read a review of Ports Fest.


Full Petworth Festival classical listings available on this site

Please see the listings here.

Read a summary here.


Petworth Festival – Back Live!

Having made the best of 2020 when presenting a part live, part streamed ‘special edition’ festival last October/November, the momentum behind the ever-ambitious Petworth Festival looks set to continue this coming summer. Read the Petworth-Festival-Brochure-Summer-2021-Lo-Res.

Events will run between Wednesday 14 and Saturday 31 July, the wide-ranging line-up of leading musicians and performers includes:

  • Classical star-of-the-moment, saxophonist Jess Gillam, who appears with her exciting new ensemble as part of their debut tour
  • Multi-million selling author, comedian and former NHS doctor Adam Kay who brings his West End hit show This is Going to Hurt
  • Living legends on the blues circuit, The Blues Band fronted as ever by the great Paul Jones who perform in the atmospheric Stable Yard of Petworth House
  • Five-star theatre-cabaret show Radio Live! – a romp through 50 years of BBC Radio with the all-star cast of Alistair McGowan, The Rev’d Richard Coles, Garry (‘here’s Garry with the Sport’) Richardson, Charlotte Green and special guest Joe Stilgoe
  • The Petworth Festival Summer Weekend, two days of free family theatre, hands on participatory workshops, ‘street’ acts and live music staged in the Pleasure Garden of Petworth House by kind permission of the National Trust.

Read At-A-Glance-2021 which lists all events.

Acknowledging and being sensitive to the realities of emerging from the pandemic, a series of measures will be introduced to ensure the maximum audience comfort and safety:

  • Thorough cleaning of all festival venues will be the rule
  • Indoor venue capacities will be capped initially at 50% rising to 75% as conditions allow
  • Performing fees are not being reduced – the artists have suffered enough!
  • A 10% ticket surcharge will apply for this festival only to help mitigate the above

Other names to conjure with in the line-up include top drawer classical artists Emma Johnson and Adrian Brendel, pianists Imogen Cooper and Isata Kanneh-Mason, leading British singers Mark Padmore and Susan Bullock and an ensemble from the UK’s first majority-Black and ethnically diverse orchestra Chineke!

Jazz comes in the shape of Si Cranstoun and the Dynamo Quartet, both of whom star in the annual Jazz in the Stables extravaganza; powerhouse chanteuse Liane Carroll and her Trio will also feature as will The Dominic Alldis Trio who present their tribute to the great French jazz innovator, Jacques Loussier.

The third Petworth House Stables event sees a two-part celebration of The Music of Paul Simon, the songs of Simon & Garfunkel being performed by the duo Bookends, and the seminal Graceland album performed by Gary Stewart and his exciting seven-piece ensemble.

The festival celebrates a sixth year in association with London’s Royal Academy of Music, with specially selected musicians appearing as part of an extensive lunchtime and morning Coffee Concert series.

‘There’s no doubt that the lack of live performance has been one of the huge downsides of the last 18 months’ says Stewart Collins, the Petworth Festival’s Artistic Director, ‘but I’m proud to say that we’ve held our nerve and come up with a programme that really should both inspire and entertain come July given its quality, variety and novelty. Every effort will be made to ensure that our audiences feel comfortable back in our venues, but otherwise it is not just ‘business as usual’ – more like ‘business unusual!’ Our aim is always to prove just how powerful and life-affirming live performance can be, and with our series of highly contrasting events I really think our audiences will realise immediately what we have all been missing’.

The Petworth Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of the many private and corporate sponsors of the festival who helped the organisation survive 2020 and who have come back strongly in 2021.

The Box Office opens on Tuesday 15 June (priority booking period for Sponsors, Patrons and Friends from 18 May). From 15 June Book Online 24/7 at www.petworthfestival.org.uk or from 15 June call the Box Office on 01798 344576 Tues – Sat, 10am – 1pm.


Havant Music Festival returns for a June weekend

The Havant Music Festival is returning for a 4th season this June, hosting a 3-day event for music aficionados who want to experience live music once again after a challenging year in lockdown.

Its 2021 line-up this year, all being well with the government’s roadmap, will feature a series of Acoustic Jazz and Classical Music concerts performed at venues across the Borough of Havant and a Live Stream Music Concert for local artists, singers, and musicians to promote and share their music with a wider audience.

Further information about the events and ticketing will be available on the HMF website soon.

June 2021 line-up

• Friday 25 June from 7-9pm – Live Facebook Music Concert for local artists across the Borough’s music scene to showcase their talents in collaboration with ChartHouse Music Studio and Websitesforyou Group.
• Saturday 26 June from 3:15-5pm – Classical concert with Peter Rogers (guitar) & Beryl Francis (piano) at St James Church in Emsworth.
• Saturday 26 June from 7:30-9:15pm – An evening of Acoustic Jazz with Astrid M Music at The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre in Havant.
• Sunday 27 June at 3:15-5pm – The Lost Harp Music of Victorian England by Elizabeth-Jane Baldry at St James Church in Emsworth.
• Sunday 27 June evening concert still to be announced.

Faith Ponsonby, Festival Chairperson said: “Many of us are desperate for live music & performing arts to return to the stage and really chase away the blues of COVID. So, Havant Music Festival is back at last after over 2 years of waiting, to give you a taster of much more to come in the future.

“This June, we will be live streaming some short performances of some talented local people on Friday evening, 25th June, and putting on two concerts on Saturday 26th June, there will be live performances of a classical music recital on piano and guitar from Beryl and Peter, and a performance from Astrid M Music, with Astrid’s unique repertoire of soulful acoustic jazz and pop to entertain you in the evening.

“On Sunday 27th June, Elizabeth-Jane Baldry will delight us once again with her magical harp, and then we hope our own Urban Vocal Group, who were the inspiration for the Festival nearly 5 years ago, will end the mini-series of concerts on Sunday 27th June with uplifting songs that will utterly amaze you. So come and enjoy real music once again at the end of June and watch this space for our exciting plans for this Autumn and Spring 2022.”


Festival of Chichester 2021 line-up unveiled

A fantastic range of events will go sale on Saturday 8 May as the Festival of Chichester opens its box office for business.

Dame Penelope Keith, Kate Mosse and Loyd Grossman, the Castalian Quartet, pianist Young-Choon Park, guitarists Linda Kelsall-Barnett and Rob Johnson, the Charlotte Glasson Jazz Trio, the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, a virtual Summer Feel Good Show from CAOS, poet Vicki Feaver and Chichester Art Society will all be taking part.

The 2021 festival will run from Saturday, June 12 to Sunday, July 11.

The virtual box office launch will be from 1830 to 1900 on Friday, May 7. This event will be held on Zoom. Anyone wishing to attend should contact support@festivalofchichester.co.uk.

Read more at the link below.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 8: recollecting 2019

This is the last of our 2011-2019 retrospectives. We hope you’ve enjoyed revisiting some of the Festival’s activities over the past decade.

Thank you for your interest and support and we look forward to welcoming you to Festival events in the future.

All being well, we shall be announcing a choral workshop for Saturday 25 September and a full-scale Festival in March 2022.

Click on the year below to open our last email of the series with articles, anecdotes, reviews, photographs and links to websites about the Festival’s music and performers.

In this issue:

Plastikes Karekles

George Dyson: The Canterbury Pilgrims

Brahms: Requiem

Claire Martin and Ray Gelato with the Dave Newton Trio

Trumpeter Jonathan Mitra, pianist Rosie Sheppard and saxophonist Victoria Puttock

Petersfield Brass

Petersfield Orchestra: Rachmaninov’s Symphony no. 2.

Youth Concerts

Family Concert

Choral workshop with Ben Parry & Mark Dancer

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 7: recollecting 2016

AChoired Taste / Hampshire Guitar Orchestra

The Rio Grande and Carmina Burana


Mark Dancer


Family Concert


Festival of Young Composers

2015-16 saw the fourth biennial Festival of Young Composers, run in conjunction with the Festival’s Michael Hurd Memorial Fund.

Composers are invited to submit scores, which they perform to a panel of three adjudicators and other listeners. The adjudicating panel in January 2016 comprised Festival president, Jonathan Willcocks, the noted composer Roxanna Panufnik and Festival chairman, Philip Young.

A cross between a celebration and a competition, the event has three age classes, with prizes for the winners and runners-up to spend on furthering their musical development. The outstanding compositions of the year were played again at the Youth Concerts in March: ‘Stormy Seas’ by Shoshana Yugin-Power, aged only nine, ‘Love Passing By’, by singer and guitarist Bethany Magennis-Prior, and ’See You Soon’ by Joel Knee, an A level student who brought an eight-piece jazz band to play his complex and beautifully scored piece.

Shoshana returned to the Youth Concerts in 2019 with her piece ’Three Little Pigs’, for narrator and ensemble. In October last year, she was one of 15 young composers to win the BBC ’30- second Composition Challenge’ as part of the ‘Proms at Home’ season.

Trombonist Joel went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music and to become a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

The theme for the choral items in the Youth Concerts 2016 was Shakespeare’s quatercentenary – interpreted broadly enough to include sixteenth-century songs, conducted by Ben Harlan, choruses from West Side Story conducted by Hamish Newport, and 60s rock and roll from Return to the Forbidden Planet! conducted by Edward Williamson with an instrumental ensemble led by Darren Reeves.

Lunchtime Recital with Sara Deborah and Richard Pearce

Mendelssohn, Schubert and Weber

If the Festival’s first choral concert shook things up, the second brought us back to the familiar home territory of the early Romantics.

A workshop a couple of years earlier had introduced the choirs to Mendelssohn’s beautiful Verleih’ uns Frieden and reminded them that his ‘Hear my Prayer’ is more than ‘O for the wings of a Dove’ – beautifully sung in the concert, as in the workshop, by the young soprano and Petersfield resident Olivia Brett.

Weber’s Mass in E flat is not often performed, and ‘one can perhaps see why’, wrote David Francombe, confessing himself ‘strangely underwhelmed’ as a whole, in spite of some excellent choral singing by Fernhurst and Petersfield choral societies and Midhurst Music Society.

The heart of the programme, as it turned out, was Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony, in which Paul Spicer relished the opportunity to work with the musicians of Southern Pro Musica. His meticulous direction, wrote David, ‘lovingly shaped and crafted this much-loved piece’.

Weber’s penchant for operatic drama and instrumental brilliance were on show – rather more than they were in the Mass – in his Concertino for Clarinet in E flat, played by Keir Rowe with every nuance from magical pianissimo to brilliant virtuosity.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 6: recollecting 2013

Froxfield Choir – African Sanctus

Under their founding director, Elizabeth Gotto (who retired from the Festival Committee last year after many years as Soloists’ Secretary) Froxfield Choir took part in the Festival’s choral concerts between 1997 and 2004.

Conducted by Elizabeth’s successor, Richard Smith, the choir gave a series of ambitious and memorable concerts in High Cross and Privett, including a spectacular performance of David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus in Privett Church in 2011. The Festival invited the choir to bring its performance to the Festival Hall to open the 2013 Festival. Joined by Churcher’s College Junior Chamber Choir, accompanied by the brilliant Backbeat Percussion Quartet, and with technical support from Jane Fanshawe, the choir gave its packed audience an evening of unforgettable colour and excitement, enhanced by the lighting effects of Simon Auty and the Green “A” Team.

Benjamin Britten’s Centenary – Britten: St Nicholas

Both of the 2013 Festival’s Saturday concerts commemorated the centenary of Britten’s birth on St Cecilia’s Day, 22 November 1913.

On the first Saturday, the choirs coupled Britten’s St Nicolas with the Ode on St Cecilia’s Day (1692) by Britten’s great forbear and inspiration, Henry Purcell. Britten achieved in St Nicolas a combination of accessibility and expressive power that is rare among twentieth-century choral works and which has made it a lasting favourite of choral societies.

The performance under Paul Spicer’s direction in 2013 was the third in Petersfield; the Festival performed it first in 1973 under Richard Seal and again in 1987 with Mark Deller conducting.

Britten: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes

Basingstoke Symphony Orchestra’s association with the Festival began with an all-Beethoven concert in 2008, followed by Mozart’s Requiem in 2009 and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony in 2011. Alongside the choral music, the programmes have included a variety of orchestral works conducted by the orchestra’s permanent conductor, Stephen Scotchmer – including Stephen’s own Fantasy for Orchestra.

Petersfield Orchestra

What a programme! Petersfield Orchestra‘s Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2 was of course enough to fill the hall with devotees who had heard it many times. But Piers Burton-Page’s programme note reminded us to listen to it afresh, quoting Hans Keller’s dictum that ‘there are no such things as hackneyed works, but only tired ears’.

The concert opened with a beautiful but less familiar work, the warmly coloured Symphonic Variations by Dvořák.

Young Musicians – Youth and Lunchtime concerts

The 2013 Youth Concerts opened with a selection from Jonathan Willcocks’ Musical Pie. The children enjoyed these snappy songs with their sound effects and question and answer exchanges. However, a group of songs from the very popular show Wicked proved unexpectedly challenging to learn. TPS and Churcher’s College filled the stage with their combined wind band and swing band, and the concert ended with Churcher’s College orchestra playing the Finale of SaintSaëns Organ Symphony and (enthusiastically joined by the choir) Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

John Tams and Barry Coope

The Festival has not often programmed a full evening of folk music, but in booking John Tams and Barry Coope in 2013 they went straight to the top!

John Tams’ work has spanned five decades in every performance medium. He is a recognised authority on vernacular music and a seven-times winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. At the National Theatre he has worked as an actor and musical director/composer on over 30 productions including Lark Rise to Candleford.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 6: recollecting 2018

Rock choir

Bach: St John Passion

Mozart Requiem with Hampshire County Youth Chamber Orchestra

Kit and McConnel

Angela Zanders

Youth Concerts

Tim Ravalde


Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 5: recollecting 2012

Contents:

Organ recital with Carlo Curley

Petersfield Orchestra

Petersfield Orchestra seized the chance of using the Allen organ to programme Saint-Saëns glorious ‘Organ Symphony’, with Richard Barnes as the organ soloist and Hiroko Banks and David Groves playing the piano duet.

Reviewing the concert, Elizabeth Gotto wrote that the orchestra ‘launched into the first item (Dvořák’s overture Carnival) with strength and enthusiasm, giving the concert a rousing start, led by their leader, Helen Purchase’.

In Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake suite, Elizabeth noted that the young Lucy Humphris (now a fine professional trumpeter) ’played with confidence and panache in the ‘Neapolitan Dance’’. ‘Strong strings, wind, brass and percussion’, Elizabeth wrote, ‘all joined together to make the Saint-Saëns symphony an unforgettable experience. The Adagio, with its organ part, gave a feeling of spiritual peace and serenity’.

Supporting young players and composers Petersfield Orchestra welcomes talented young players into its ranks, providing invaluable experience of the excitement and discipline of rehearsing and performing with a full orchestra.

As well as Lucy Humphris, several other young musicians over the past decade have benefited from having this opportunity on their doorstep, including composer George Venner, who has been a regular attender at rehearsals.

Some years ago, recalls conductor Robin Browning, the orchestra ran two workshop rehearsals with some of George’s early orchestrations. Between the rehearsals, George revised his score in the light of the issues the first session had brought to light, and on the second occasion ‘we were adeptly able to turn it into orchestral sound right off the bat’.

George’s Three Paronomasias for two clarinets and piano four hands were recorded last year by Rob Blanken (principal clarinet of Petersfield Orchestra) and Emma Alexandra, with pianists Nic Saunders and Matthew Cooke.

Helen Purchase has been leader of Petersfield Orchestra since 2002.

Helen studied at Colchester Institute and Middlesex university before taking up a post at Churcher’s College, initially as a teacher in charge of strings.

She became Director of Music there in 2012, and Head of Performing Arts in 2016. Festival week is always a busy time for Helen, since as well as leading the orchestra in its Thursday concert she coordinates the College’s contribution to the Youth Concerts and conducts the combined jazz bands of Churcher’s and TPS in the two performances.

Outside music, as the orchestra’s website tells us, Helen keeps fit with climbing (Mont Blanc), long distance running, skiing and more.

Mass for Chorus, Brass and Organ for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with Petersfield Chamber Choir

Ann Pinhey (read a 2020 profile of her on Music in Portsmouth)

Cabaret Evening with Michael Mates and William Godfree

Verdi Requiem – open workshop day led by conductor Paul Spicer

Youth Concerts celebrated the Olympics


Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 4: recollecting 2015

Contents:
Jonathan Willcocks: A Great and Glorious Victory

In October 2012 Jonathan Willcocks led an inspiring Festival workshop on his choral work A Great and Glorious Victory, timed to coincide with preparations for singers from several UK choirs to join an international choir in Carnegie Hall, New York, in early 2013.

The Festival’s own performance of A Great and Glorious Victory, conducted by Paul Spicer with Peter Aisher as soloist, followed in 2015. The work both inspired and challenged the combined Fernhurst and Petersfield choral societies and Midhurst Music Society, with its complex rhythms, explosive depictions of battle and storm, and powerful emotional range from conflict to resolution.

Trafalgar was not the only battle being fought – David Francombe described the drama of the chorus ‘battling valiantly against a huge volume of sound from the orchestra’.

The work memorably involves the audience singing the great hymns ‘Eternal Father, strong to save‘ and, in conclusion, ‘The day Thou gavest, Lord is ended’. The closing bars, said David, with the offstage soloist singing the word ‘Victory!, Victory!’ were ‘pure magic!’

Also: Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir with Quintessential Brass

National celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – new short cantata with words and music by Philip Young

The Parnassian Ensemble – Their programme for the Festival, subtitled ‘Cross-currents’, included twentieth-century music by Bohuslav Martinù and Ryohei Hirose as well as one of their own commissions, Flourishes and Dances by Steve Marshall, who was in the audience. ‘I hope he was delighted with tonight’s engaging performance, full of jazz rhythms and occasional dissonances,’ wrote Ann Pinhey. Of the whole programme, Ann wrote, ‘Everything was elegant, polished and performed with virtuosity and assurance. Wonderful!’

Petersfield Orchestra – Beethoven’s ‘Egmont’ overture received ‘an impressive performance, full of warmth and drama’, wrote Ann Pinhey. In Bizet’s Symphony in C, ‘Robin Browning galvanised his players, giving a polished, energetic reading.

Gerald Finzi: Intimations of Immortality is a big and challenging work, so who better to prepare a performance than Paul Spicer, a trustee of the Finzi Society and foremost exponent of the British choral music of the period, who named his own chamber choir the Finzi Singers?


Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 3: recollecting 2017

Edward Thomas Centenary Concert

From time to time the Festival puts on a ‘Petersfield special’ – a unique concert relating to the music and community in this part of the world, such as the gala concert of Petersfield Musicians and Composers at the Festival’s centenary in 2001, the memorial concert for Michael Hurd in 2007 and the Rogate Choral Society centenary concert in 2008.

The latest in this series, and the broadest in scope, was the 2017 Edward Thomas Centenary Concert. In order to represent the nature of Thomas’s association with the area, and with Steep in particular, the Festival invited Petersfield Photographic Society to mount an exhibition of photographs inspired by the poetry. Petersfield Museum was also invited to put on a display drawing on the substantial collection of Edward Thomas material held there. The Museum’s trustees and staff, who include members of the Edward Thomas Fellowship, provided invaluable advice and support. The programme of choral and solo vocal and instrumental music was researched and devised by members of the Festival committee and performed by a variety of groups and individuals with local connections, to a capacity audience that included the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, and East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds.

The first half of the concert focused on Thomas’s family, friends and literary contacts, with music he wrote about and settings of poems by his contemporaries. The second half introduced settings of Thomas’s own poetry – many of them little known, but strongly evocative in the context of his life and work, described by Philip Young in a linking narrative.

Most of the choral works were sung by Vox Cantab, the professional chamber choir set up by former Churcher’s College student Louisa Denby, conducted by Jonathan Willcocks and accompanied by Richard Pearce.

A Romantic Choral Feast

Petersfield Orchestra

Johnny Mansfield’s Elftet

Sara Deborah Timossi

Sara Deborah Timossi first performed in Petersfield, as Sara Deborah Struntz, with Petersfield Orchestra in 2009, when she gave a memorable performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Her biography for that concert already hinted at her breadth of interests and sympathies: “Aware that every talent bears a responsibility, Sara Deborah strives to bring music’s message and beauty to life to reach her listeners’ hearts; therefore she also performs in hospitals, prisons and care homes.”

In October 2017, she won the First Prize and Audience Prize at the International Baroque Violin Competition Premio Bonporti in Rovereto, Italy, awarded for only the second time since 2003.

Since moving to Liss, Sara Deborah has combined her artistic career with family life and involvement as an environmental activist. She founded the string orchestra SouthDowns Camerata to promote classical music to wide audiences and to support young string players, and leads the Spirit of Music Festival in Liss and Petersfield.

With pianist Richard Pearce, Sara Deborah gave an acclaimed lunchtime recital at the 2016 Festival. She was due to return wearing two hats in 2020 – with SouthDowns Camerata in a concert of eighteenth century choral music, and with the SOS Choir, who were preparing to perform Dorry Macaulay’s song ’SOS from the Kids’ with the combined schools choir at the Youth Concerts. The SOS Choir went on to reach the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in September last year.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 2: recollecting 2014 + David Francombe remembered

David Francombe remembered:

It was just a year ago, on the first Saturday of the 2020 Festival, during rehearsals for a concert that David Francombe was due to attend as reviewer, that we received the sad and sudden news that he had passed away.

David came to Petersfield with his first wife, Miriam, in 1965, and quickly established a place as a leading member of the town’s arts activities and the congregation at St Peter’s Church. His first involvement was with the Lion and Unicorn Players, but by 1976 he had started a five-year stint as conductor of Harting Choral Society, which brought him in contact with the Festival. He joined the Festival committee, serving on it until 1985 and then again as vice-chairman from 1998 to 2004.

Familiar with the technical side of Petersfield Festival Hall, David masterminded the Festival’s lighting for many years. Later, he showed his versatility and readiness to help by looking after the Festival Friends for two years, editing and designing the programmes for three Festivals, reviewing concerts, providing liaison with St Peter’s for the Festival’s lunchtime and evening recitals, and latterly managing the priority postal bookings.

All this time, the Festival benefited from his intimate knowledge of the town and his wisdom as an organiser. After Miriam’s premature death in 1976, David devoted himself to the work of a single dad, striking up a companionship with Jillie Booth at a Festival meeting in 1983; this further cemented his Festival connections, since Jillie’s mother, Kay McLeod was Festival secretary. David and Jillie married in 1997 and together they enjoyed twenty-three years of happy and exceptionally busy retirement.

In the reviews of the choral concerts that he wrote between 2012 and 2019, which we shall often be quoting in these recollections, David brought a wide knowledge of choral repertoire and a discriminating ear, together with an appreciation, born of experience, of all that is involved when amateur musicians embark on such big enterprises.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 1: Castaway’s Choice with Piers Burton-Page & Paul Spicer

Piers Burton-Page interviews composer, conductor and music writer Paul Spicer about his life, work and 8 favourite pieces of music. Produced by Phillip Young Edited by Chris Bartholomew-Fox

Please click on the link below.

Background to this series.


Ensemble Reza emerge confident from pandemic

Mid-Sussex based Ensemble Reza – regulars at the Festival of Chichester – are in a remarkably strong position.

They can confidently say their year of lockdown and pandemic has been a thoroughly good one.

“We have had an exciting year,” says Ensemble Reza managing director Hannah Carter, “and we have got an exciting future.”

In fact, on Tuesday, March 16, they will notch up their 50th virtual Ensemble Reza Midday Music Concert – a weekly commitment which has been a key way the ensemble has navigated all the challenges of 2020 and into 2021.

Read more at the link below.


Petersfield Musical Festival moves to online retrospectives in 2021

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 1: Castaway’s Choice with Piers Burton-Page & Paul Spicer
Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 2: recollecting 2014 + David Francombe remembered

This time last year, preparations for the 2020 Festival’s ten concerts were in full swing and ticket sales were building by the day.

But the news was becoming threatening, and we were only three concerts into the Festival when the curtain suddenly had to come down.

Since then music-lovers have been sadly starved of live performances and musicians have struggled to make ends meet.

Donate to support musicians.

Festival online 12-20 March

Open a daily email to revisit the Festival’s mix of classical and popular music, old friends and new discoveries, inspirational professionals, dedicated local amateurs
and keen, talented youngsters.

PMF’s online retrospectives will feature many of the 73 Festival concerts presented in the Festival Hall and St Peter’s Church between 2011 and 2019.

These are not recordings of the concerts, but expect articles, anecdotes, reviews, photographs and links to websites where you can hear and see more about each year’s music and performers.

They won’t be in chronological order, so discover the featured year when you log in.

Join us from Friday 12 to Saturday 20 March for a daily reminder of the variety and excitement of nine different Festivals!

Donate to Petersfield Musical Festival


Festival of Chichester eyes up summer possibilities with major IT upgrade

The Festival of Chichester is planning confidently for the future with a major IT investment – thanks to generous grant support from Chichester District Council.

CDC is giving the festival a grant of £1,600 towards the cost of a new website and a new vastly-improved event registration system.

Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “This is brilliant news for the festival in such an uncertain year – and we are hugely grateful to the district council for recognising the importance of what we do, not just in Chichester but in the wider district. The new systems have been masterminded by our committee member Simon O’Hea who has done a wonderful job in envisaging just how much more efficient we really ought to be… and are now going to be!”

Read more at the link below.


Welcome to Ports Fest

After 20 years of being Portsmouth Festivities, we are rebranding the cultural festival to Ports Fest. With the festival’s ever-evolving reputation in the city, we want to refresh our look and name to be on-trend and expand on our offering to the public. Ports Fest has been a well-known abbreviation for the festival for many years as our hashtag.

In the past we have been grateful to host hundreds of well-known artists, speakers, and authors, as well as involving thousands of local community residents, groups and school pupils. As well we have created fun thematic programmes to get the public involved with, such as Play Code City, The World’s Smallest Escape Room and 20 Love.

Although we had to cancel our festival in 2020 this has given us the chance to reflect on our work and think about ways to deliver an outdoor weekend festival in 2021 that will involve as many young people and as much of the Portsmouth community as possible.

The dates for this year’s festival will be July 2nd-4th and the theme for this year “Remember, Reimagine, Reset”.

We will be launching the programme for this year’s festival in May. Please be assured that the festival remains aware of the current restrictions and will always adhere to these forms of guidance locally and nationally, keeping everyone’s health and safety at the main core of this festival going ahead. “Our priority is to work around the stipulations in order to keep absolutely everyone safe. In light of this we are keeping positive that we will be able to deliver Ports Fest this summer. By then we will all need some live arts and cultural sustenance” Erica Smith, Festival Director.

In these unprecedented times, we want to bring to the community this Summer some fun-filled events for all to enjoy. Despite this, we are future planning and hopeful that our fuller programme will be back for 2022.

Head to our new website www.portsfest.co.uk to find out more on what we do and will continue to provide to the community of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.


The 2021 Petworth Festival previewed

We are doubtless far from being the first to wish you a happy new year, but a happy new year to you all the same from the Petworth Festival team. We really hope that 2021 will turn out to be a different year to 2020. I am sure we are all agreed on that!

But if 2020 was memorable for anything other than the pandemic I hope that most if not all of you will have taken something positive from the Petworth Festival Autumn Special, the fortnight of ‘almost live but definitely online’ events we ran towards the end of October. The response received at the time was overwhelmingly positive, and we came away feeling we had definitely done something to help fill the terrible void Covid-19 has brought to our lives. We also found out just how welcome was the opportunity for the performers and authors whose livelihoods have otherwise been so dramatically affected by the lockdown.

2021 is now upon us of course, and in the same way that we negotiated last year’s white-water ride, we are again looking to lay on a festival we can be proud of and one that continues to build on the momentum we have so happily gathered in the last few years. At the time of writing we can’t wholly guarantee that all our plans will all see the light of day, but in the sincere hope that they will, we invite you to join us at 7pm on Tuesday 2 February for an online event that will give you the first glimpse of what we are planning for July.

‘The 2021 Festival Previewed’ will run for roughly 35 minutes and will tell you where we are, what our plans are and, crucially, invite your continued support. As we said repeatedly at the time, the 2020 festival was only made possible by the support of our Sponsors, Patrons and Friends, and we hope that this event will both whet your appetite for our summer plans, and encourage you to continue or develop your support for what we are trying to achieve in and for Petworth. If you can’t join us on Tuesday, the video will be available on www.petworthfestival.org.uk until 31 March.

So do join us to see some clips of ‘the best of 2020’ as well as to meet some of the performers chalked in for July.


Update to plans for the Festival of Chichester in 2021

We are still looking forward to the 2021 Festival of Chichester between 12 June to 11 July and hoping to be able to return to a lively, eclectic programme of arts events.

However, because of the current circumstances, the festival committee feels that we need to delay our festival entry window from February to March. We will keep in touch with you and confirm closer to the date that the entry window will open on Monday 1 March and will close on Wednesday 31 March. As previously advised, all entries will need to be submitted via a new registration form at https://festivalofchichester.co.uk. You have the usual guidance and information to help you complete your application. If all progresses to plan, the box office at The Novium will open for ticket sales on 1 May.

If the national situation means we won’t be able to progress to a full live festival in 2021, we’ll be planning for a new kind of online festival, perhaps also including some open-air events or socially distanced gatherings, depending on the rules applicable at the time.

We are planning an active publicity programme to develop contacts and to enable us all to work together by supporting each other’s events and maximizing the benefit of all our individual contacts and mailing lists. By working together, we can amplify the message and this will help you to reach a wider audience for the events you are planning.


Festival of Chichester: The Festive Jazz Café

Each December, the Festival of Chichester puts on an exciting evening of jazz and readings to celebrate the Christmas season and to raise much-needed funds to kickstart next summer’s festival. All the performers are giving their services free so if you enjoy the festive fun, please consider making a small donation.

This year, it is going virtual.

You can enjoy online fantastic jazz from The Dream Duo, Julian Marc Stringle (vocals and clarinet) with Dominic Ashworth (guitar) plus stimulating Greek-influenced jazzy sounds from Pavlos Carvalho with Rebetiki Serenata.

Guest poet is Romani writer Raine Geoghegan, plus dramatized readings from A Christmas Carol by Gareth Williams – film/TV/stage actor and ex-singer with the million-selling group The Flying Pickets….remember Only You? That’s Gareth! Also featuring actress Paula Tinker with festive readings.

Come back to the page linked below on Friday 11th December for a 7.30pm première. All the performances will be available to view throughout the rest of December.


Petersfield Musical Festival Newsletter Autumn 2020

It’s been the toughest year on record for musicians, with professionals deprived of their livelihoods and amateurs unable to take part in the groups and activities they love.

The Festival was stopped in its tracks by the March lockdown and lost its planned Choral Workshop in September. However, planning for 2021 continues, though necessarily on a smaller scale than usual.

Meanwhile, individuals and groups have found enterprising ways to keep singing and playing – whether online, outdoors, or socially distanced under strict conditions.

Our autumn Newsletter reports on the Festival’s online AGM, and brings stories from local singers and instrumentalists about how they have succeeded in making and sharing music under lockdown,

Read the full newsletter: 46 Petersfield Musical Festival Newsletter_33_Autumn_2020_colour

If you would like to support professional musicians by contributing to Help Musicians (formerly The Musicians Benevolent Fund) please click here.

 


Festival of Chichester annual public meeting switches to Zoom

Organisers of the Festival of Chichester are setting the ball rolling for next year with their annual public meeting.

The plan is for a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, November 17, beginning at 7pm. Drop us an email to infochifest@gmail.com to receive details on how to confirm your attendance.

Read more at the link below.


Still chance to catch Petworth Festival Autumn Special online

Petworth Festival rose to the challenge of the toughest of times to pull off a hugely successful autumn special.

“Somehow we made it happen and boy was it good”, says artistic director Stewart Collins. The live part of the festival concluded last Sunday night. “At any point over the last six months we could have had the rug pulled from underneath us as we went in and out of various levels of lockdown or Covid-based restriction, but remarkably we have been able to stage and stream all 26 of our events problem-free and received the most gratifying amount of support and appreciation as a result.

Read more at the link below.


Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert at Petworth Festival

Like almost every other festival this year, Petworth’s annual summer music festival, which normally takes place in July, fell victim to the restrictions imposed in response the coronavirus pandemic, but rather than cancel this year’s festival altogether, its organisers sensibly moved the music festival to the autumn and combined it with the literary festival. The events are all online, though some are live, with audience, to create “a real ‘Petworth’ feel about them” (Stewart Collins, Artistic Director) and, as always, there’s a fantastic line up of performers and guests, including Sheku and Isata Kanneh Mason, The London Mozart Players with Howard Shelley, and Mitsuko Uchida. Petworth Festival always attracts an impressive roster of performers and amply confirms that there is very high quality music-making to be found outside of the capital.

We’re all pretty used to watching concerts via livestream and videocasts now; superior technology allows such broadcasts to be presented with high-quality sound and visuals, which undoubtedly enhances the experience. It’s impossible to entirely recreate being in a concert hall, but one of the advantages of livestream is that you can choose when the view the concert: watch it live or at your own convenience, perhaps in the middle of the afternoon, as I did with this particular concert. With my laptop connected to the tv in the living room and a cup of tea in hand, I settled down to enjoy Mitsuko Uchida playing two sonatas by Franz Schubert.

Read more at the link below.


London Mozart Players Ensemble set to open 2020 Petworth Festival

The curtain rises on this autumn’s special edition of the Petworth Festival with a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary.

Howard Shelley directs the London Mozart Players Ensemble in a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 on Friday, October 16 at 8pm. The concert opens with the opening Adagio-Allegro assai from Haydn’s 94th Surprise Symphony.

Events will happen live to small invited audiences of sponsors and friends – but will be streamed, giving the public the chance to buy tickets and attend the events online.

Read more at the link below.


Plans for the Festival of Chichester 2021

We are looking forward to the 2021 Festival of Chichester, which will run between 12 June and 11 July, and are hoping to be able to return to a lively, eclectic programme of arts events.

It was such a disappointment to be forced to cancel the fantastic plans we had lined up for the 2020 live festival, but we’ve been very pleased with the positive responses to our Virtual Festival, which helped us keep the festival flag flying and stay in touch with our loyal audiences. Now it’s time to start planning for the next festival.

Because of the current uncertainty, the festival committee feels we have to keep our options open to see how the situation develops. We are therefore postponing entries from the usual November to end of January time frame to a month-long entry window in January, which will now be open from 1 to 31 January. We are also developing a new online entry system designed to streamline the process. We will keep you updated with this as work progresses.

This year our usual autumn public meeting will have to be a virtual one. The plan is for a Zoom meeting on Tuesday 17 November, beginning at 7pm, when we can update you with news of what the plans are for 2021 and of course hear all your helpful feedback, suggestions and advice. This meeting is open to anyone to attend and speak. Please email infochifest@gmail.com if you would like to receive the Zoom link.

If the national situation means we won’t be able to progress to a full live festival in 2021, we’ll be planning for a new kind of online festival, perhaps also including some open-air events or socially distanced gatherings, depending on the rules applicable at the time. We are very grateful for the fantastic support we’ve had from our organisers and audience members. You deserve a great festival and we will do all we can to provide the best festival the times will allow.


Profile: Stewart Collins, producer and artistic director of the Petworth Festival

The Petworth Festival has announced its special autumn programme yesterday. 25 events will be filmed live from the festival’s ‘home’ venues St Mary’s Petworth and the Leconfield Hall and will be streamed via its website.

Simon O’Hea has been in conversation with its artistic director, Stewart Collins.

As an artistic director, what informs your musical preferences?

I am keen to get away from pigeonholing people into the various genres. I love musicians who are able to move between the various genres – Joanna MacGregor, Matthew Barley, André Previn and Leonard Bernstein come particularly to mind.

I am particularly fond of 19th-century Romantic and French impressionist music, but I also admire the great Jazz musicians. One of my favourite pieces is Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom, which I programmed as part of the festival’s 40th anniversary year to be played by four pianists from four different traditions, which was amazing.

I was brought up to believe that classical music was the one and only thing. But once I’d become a professional choral singer, I saw that genius has many different disguises, and that there is an incredible amount of talent everywhere you look. Having to make a living from music-making, I also recognised how hard you have to work whatever your calling if you are to make it in the harshly competitive world we live in. I think that it’s given me an empathy with up-and-coming musicians, and a good reading of talent.

Having been both a choral scholar as well as an active member of the Footlights whilst a history student at Cambridge, I co-founded the four-part group Cantabile which was set up in the mould of the King’s Singers. We did quirky numbers drawn from across the board – cabaret, madrigals, topical songs, Schubert lieder and a whole lot more, including a memorable 15 month run in the West End.

After 15 years of professional singing, family pressures eventually made for a change, and I was fortunate to be offered the position of artistic director of the Henley Festival. I’ve now been there for 30 of its 39 years. I’ve been artistic director of the Petworth Festival for 11 years and proud to have seen that reach its 40th year, not to mention having founded a now very well established literary week.

What makes for success in directing an arts festival such as Petworth?

It’s a bit like being a cook: you identify incredibly good ingredients, but until they are stirred into the mix and cooked up they won’t make a good dish. And, following the cooking analogy through, you need to be able to find a balance of flavours. A kaleidoscope is better than one theme. You will be looking to cater to a wide variety of tastes.

I’ve also very much supported identifying and bringing on new, young talent. Over the past five years I’ve fostered a most valuable relationship with the Royal Academy of Music, a relationship which has resulted in concert series at each of the last five festivals featuring soloists and performers selected and endorsed by senior staff at the conservatoire. Beyond that we’ve also made a point of working year-on-year with ensembles from West Sussex Music, and more recently both The Musicians’ Company and the Live Music Now charity. Gratifyingly the audiences for these events have really been building.

What about this autumn’s festival?

In July we ran a cut-down festival, online. And this autumn we are looking to distil the best of what we had in the summer into a 15-day programme featuring the highest-profile events that we ran in the summer. It’s wonderful that such talent is available to join us. Some of it will be drawn from the RAM. We’ll also be re-broadcasting Harry Rylance and the Voreios Trio, all of whom are young and extremely gifted musicians, while there will be a small live audience for the other events. Read more

We are extremely thankful to our sponsors: there are too many to mention individually, but you can read their names here.

We have already been overwhelmed by the support we have received from many of our Friends and Supporters, but the Festival will still need all the help it can get to enable us to overcome the many challenges the Covid-19 crisis has forced on us. As such we appeal to everyone who loves the Petworth Festival to help us survive into 2021 and beyond by making a donation, however small. Thank you.


Petworth Festival Special unveils autumn programme

A strong line-up in Petworth this autumn (Friday 16 October – Sunday 1 November) will give us a taste of the summer festival that never was.

Go to the festival web page to view what’s on.

This summer’s Petworth Festival, along with festivals the length and breadth of the country, was forced off the calendar by the COVID pandemic.

But to ensure that this year doesn’t pass entirely festival free, organisers of the Petworth Festival have come up with a special season of highlights, adding a week of performances to the start of what will be Petworth’s tenth literary festival, all under the banner the 2020 Petworth Festival Special.

Watch a preview by artistic director Stewart Collins on YouTube, and visit the festival website to find out more.

Read a profile of Stewart Collins here.

Read more at the link below.


Petworth Festival announces its autumn 2020 programme

Petworth Festival looks different in 2020 but we are thrilled to bring you something special this autumn. 25 events comprising what we do best – musical performance and literary wonder – all filmed live in our ‘home’ venue St Mary’s Petworth and streamed via our website.

Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason were due to play at the festival this summer and we are delighted they can join us in the autumn together with their mother Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason who will be talking about her new book ‘House of Music – Raising the Kanneh-Masons’ as part of our 10th Anniversary Literary Week.

Other names announced so far include: William Boyd, MILOŠ, Vanessa Branson, Mitsuko Uchida, Anthony Horowitz, Patti Boulaye, Michael Morpurgo and Clare Teal.

Artistic Director, Stewart Collins says ‘You’ll understand my excitement I’m sure when I found I was able to secure probably the biggest name in classical music at the moment, the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason [who will perform with his equally high profile sister, pianist Isata], as well as the solo guitarist MILOŠ who was responsible for the longest waiting list in the festival’s history on his first visit. Add in one of the world’s greatest pianists Mitsuko Uchida and we’re genuinely in unprecedented territory as far as the festival is concerned.’

Full programme announced and booking online from 17 September. Read more.


Petworth Festival – free online concert to celebrate what should have been the 42nd Petworth Festival

With the 42nd Festival due to have opened on Tuesday 14 July, the Petworth Festival team are proud to announce an online event that will run throughout the festival fortnight, at the end of which a further announcement will be made about the extended 2020 Petworth Festival Special which will take place in October to include the 10th Anniversary Literary Week.

Between 7.30pm on Tuesday 14 July and midnight on Saturday 1 August, at any point you will be able to catch an online mini-concert that is being specially recorded in St Mary’s Church, a three-part celebration that features two remarkable sets of students from the Royal Academy of Music and one of the festival’s all-time favourite performers, the piano genius, Harry the Piano. Each will give sparkling, short performances to remind us all of the wonderful chemistry between live music and the festival’s beautiful ‘home’ venue.

The concert will be made available free of charge, but as Festival Artistic Director Stewart Collins makes clear, ‘there is of course no such thing as a free lunch – or in this case, a completely free concert. It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that the cancellation of the summer’s festival has come at a very significant cost, and that whilst many of our wonderful supporters and sponsors have ensured that the damage isn’t fatal, we do urgently need to raise funds to minimise the impact both this year and into the future. We sadly had to cancel the biggest planned expansion of events aimed at the wider community this summer, but hopefully a successful appeal alongside July’s online event will ensure that we can resuscitate plans in 2021.’

You can log on to watch the summer special through the festival’s website, www.petworthfestival.org.uk.

Further info on the performers:
Further information:
Harry the Piano http://www.harrythepiano.com/welcome.php
Harry Rylance http://harryrylance.com/
Voreios Trio http://www.stbrides.com/music/2020/02/voreios-trio.php


Great events still to come in the Virtual Festival of Chichester

Plenty of highlights remain to come as this year’s Virtual Festival of Chichester enters its fourth week.

The day’s events will be added at 7pm ready for enjoying at the traditional 7.30pm event time. Festival events will then stay online all summer.

Go to https://festivalofchichester.co.uk/virtual-festival.

Read more below.


Review of “The Canterbury Pilgrims” at the Petersfield Musical Festival

To most people of a musical disposition, the name George Dyson will not ring many bells. Google “Dyson” and one gets a lot of information about vacuum cleaners. Those who sing in church choirs will have come across his splendid settings of the Canticles for Evening Prayer, Dyson in F and Dyson in D but few will have heard his masterpiece, “The Canterbury Pilgrims”, in performance…until last week, when the work was given a splendid performance at the Petersfield Musical Festival.

Under the calm baton of Paul Spicer, and with the Southern Pro Musica in top form, The Festival Chorus, resplendent in their multi-coloured apparel, gave it their all. In the opening Prologue the choir sings a capella with the orchestra topping and tailing each phrase; here the balance was good, the dynamics followed the composer’s instructions and the intonation was spot on. Towards the end of the prologue the choir were joined by the tenor soloist, Nathan Vale. Vale has a pleasant uncomplicated voice but needed to “sell” himself rather more to his audience – a little underpowered.

In section ll, The Knight, the orchestra came into its own, Dyson making full use of all departments, especially the large brass section. The choir managed to hold their own against this wall of sound and I was reminded of Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony in some of the more “full-on” moments. In The Squire we were treated to some delightfully delicate playing and we were introduced to the soprano soloist, Sofia Larsson as “The Nun”. She has a beautifully clear voice and an engaging presence which interacted with the audience.

In The Monk, we met the Baritone soloist, Edward Ballard. Ballard has a big voice which was ideally suited to the work. He was not overshadowed by the orchestra and one could hear every word. This was followed by The Clerk of Oxenford, to my mind one of the best parts of the evening. The tenors start a craggy fugue section, the other parts joining in with some precise, detailed singing. The first half ended with a march-like theme for the tenor and the chorus joining in with another fugue-like section, which, given the murmurs of appreciation from the audience, was enjoyed by all.

The second half started with The Franklin with the band going hammer and tongs and the Baritone battling bravely, if not always quite successfully. Again the influence of Vaughan Williams could be detected. In The Doctor of Physic, tenor Nathan Vale was more at ease and sang with assurance and clarity of diction. Sofia Larsson made the fun piece The Wife of Bath very much her own. With a jaunty accompaniment, she obviously enjoyed herself and delighted the audience with a stratospheric final B flat. In The Poor Parson we experienced some excellent four-part singing from the Chorus and the evening ended with L’Envoi.

I left happy but with a slight niggle that something was not quite right. On reflection I came to the conclusion that the work is a series of short separate vignettes and that there is no narrative to hold the piece together. Maybe that is why The Canterbury Pilgrims is not often heard? That said, it was a splendid evening’s music making and a great credit to all concerned.

David Francombe

Image: Sir George Dyson (c) The Royal College of Music


Privacy notice | Site design copyright ©2021 Music In Portsmouth. Logos and images of participating performers may subject to additional copyright restrictions. Please be courteous and ask before using.