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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 or on 01798 344576 Tues-Sat, 10am-1pm.


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 or from 15 June call the Box Office on 01798 344576 Tues – Sat, 10am – 1pm.

Jess Gillam and Adam Kay to headline this year’s Petworth Festival

Classical saxophonist Jess Gillam and doctor-turned-author and comedian Adam Kay will be among the headline acts at this year’s Petworth Festival.

Festival artistic director Stewart Collins has confirmed a number of the acts heading to West Sussex this summer.

There is no confirmed box office opening date yet, but at the very least Stewart and the team are offering a statement of intent.

It remains to be seen precisely what format the festival will take, but Stewart is determined that the festival will happen in some shape or form this July, within whatever the prevailing Covid restrictions are.

Read more at the link below.

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 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.

Lockdown organ recital live from St Mary’s Petworth

Matthew Cooke, organist at St Mary’s Petworth, is offering a fundraising live-streamed organ recital from the church.

Featuring French, German and English music, it will take place on Sunday, January 31 at 5pm and will be live streamed simultaneously on St Mary’s Petworth Facebook page and the church’s YouTube channel.

If you can’t listen at the time, you will be able to catch up with it after the event. Hopefully this event will go some way to helping to lift people’s spirits at this time of the pandemic. The programme will last around 35 minutes and is shown below.

The recital will be free to view – however, donations to church funds would be much appreciated at this time – these may be made via the link on St Mary’s website.

Coronation March (Le Prophete) Meyerbeer (transcribed by Bryan Hesford)
Chorale Prelude on ‘Abridge’ C S Lang
Violin Concerto in G: 1st movement (Allegro) Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe Weimar (transcribed by J S Bach)
Double Violin Concerto: 2nd movement (Largo ma non tanto) J S Bach (transcribed by Dom Gregory Murray)
Fanfare: ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’ Christopher Tambling
Le jardin suspendu Jehan Alain
Chanson d’amour Gabriel Faure (transcribed by Martin Setchell)
Litanies Jehan Alain

Read more at the link below.

Support for musicians and the musical community during the pandemic

Established in early 2017, Music in Portsmouth offers classical musicians a voice in the local community. It enjoys around 1,000 unique visits and 3,000 page views per month.

During the current crisis I am:

• Writing profiles of local musicians – whether they be composers, conductors or performers*
• Sharing videos and audio clips, including video-casts and live-streamed concerts – the concert venues are closed but the music goes on
• Sharing articles and other resources which may be of interest.

If you hear of anything you’d like me to share, or if you would like me to write a profile of you, please contact me or message me via Twitter to submit material for inclusion.

Meanwhile, stay well everyone and let’s keep in touch.

* Read about:
Angelina Kopyrina
Tim Ravalde
Cordelia Hobbs
Catherine Martin
Robert Browning
Jelena Makarova
Erin Alexander
Julia Bishop
Sachin Gunga
Brian Moles
George Burrows
Neil Sands
Philip Drew
Stefanie Read
Susan Yarnall-Monks
Alex Poulton
Stewart Collins
Catherine Lawlor
Crispin Ward
Clive Osgood
Jack Davies
Vincent Iyengar
Jonathan Willcocks
Susan Legg
Lucy Humphris
Nik Knight
Andrew Cleary
Steve Venn
Cathy Mathews
David Price
William Waine
Stella Scott
David Russell
Peter Gambie
Lynden Cranham
Ben Lathbury
Valentina Seferinova
Ann Pinhey
Geoff Porter
Tim Fisher
Terry Barfoot
Angela Zanders
Peter Best
Colin Jagger
Ian Schofield
Matthew Coleridge
Nicola Benedetti
Beryl Francis
Alex Poulton
David Gostick
Stuart Reed
Lucy Armstrong
Roy Theaker
Julia Bishop
Anne White
Wayne Mayor
Stefano Boccacci
Ben Lathbury
Jake Barlow
Penny Gordon
Antonia Kent
John Elder
Simon Wilkins

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.

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,

Further info on the performers:
Further information:
Harry the Piano
Harry Rylance
Voreios Trio

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