We did it! Last week, 14 exceptional musicians, an actor, a lecturer and 200 festivalgoers from across the country gathered in Beverley for our Summer Festival – one of the most exhilarating festivals we’ve ever staged. Light and love shone though all 13 events, and this gallery of photos offers a glimpse at the sheer soulfulness of the three days in our beautiful town.
A sense of magic and wonder was in the air from the very first note of our opening concert ‘America the beautiful’, where an impassioned performance of Amy Beach’s Piano Quintet along with Anna Cavaliero’s beautiful singing of songs including Love let the wind cry by Undine Smith Moore left many of the audience in tears.
That afternoon in the Memorial Hall, a breathtaking performance of Tchaikovsky’s sextet Souvenir de Florence by our outstanding string team caused a masked roar of delight from the audience, and the first of several standing ovations during the festival.
The connection between artists and audience felt closer and more special than ever this year, and it was a joy to see new friendships being formed on and off stage. That bond was strengthened through the shared experience of some particularly poignant music-making. From Joshua Ellicott’s cries of ‘How long?’ at the end of Winter Words which closed the concert ‘The arc of time’, to Vaughan Williams’ tender setting of Whitman in The Last Invocation – for which Libby, Anna, Tim Crawford and Ed Ballard (who had jumped in at the last minute) joined forces to close the concert ‘Foreign affairs’ – there were some powerful moments.
Experiences such as these change people, and the poetry and drama of Maria Włoszczowska’s late night performance of Bach’s great Partita for solo violin in D minor in the Minster left people deeply moved and speechless.
For others, time stood still during flautist Dan Watts’ playing of Copland’s Duo for flute and piano with Libby, a work at the heart of our American theme, conjuring up the prairies of North America, on Saturday morning. That concert, ‘By the dawn’s early light’, opened with one of our platforms for advanced local young musicians, a new aspect of the festival of which we’re proud. Katie, an 11-year old Beverley bassoonist studying at Wells Cathedral School, performed Elgar’s Romance Op 62 with Libby. The previous day, Maddie, Brooke and Luca, three local sixth-formers heading off to Oxford, Cambridge and Durham universities, performed Doppler’s Andante and Rondo Op 25, having received some inspiring coaching on the piece from Dan.
Danger! High Voltage
One of the most memorable events we’ve ever presented was the electrifying performance by Libby and Chris Hopkins on Saturday afternoon of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, in the composer’s own version for piano duet. It’s a wonder that the energy and excitement generated in that room in the East Riding didn’t cause some sort of power surge on the National Grid! Our resident lecturer, Professor Marina Frolova-Walker, had given the audience an enlightening introduction to this visceral work (‘Stravinsky’s Crime Against Grace’). And both of her pre-concert talks were as popular as ever. But perhaps nothing could prepare people for the performance they experienced that afternoon.
We are so relieved that our gamble of staging a live music event during these weird times paid off. By some miracle not a single member of our team was pinged by the NHS app during the festival. Phew! (Baritone Gareth Brynmor John had to isolate in a hotel in Doncaster for 48 hours awaiting a test result, which fortunately came through in time for him to sing for us on Saturday.)
Never have we been so grateful to our incredible front of house and stage management team for everything they did to make the festival happen, welcoming people, keeping them safe and making them feel comfortable. Our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of them.
“For ever and ever. Amen”
With those words, from Britten’s Canticle Abraham & Isaac, our festival closed. The performance by Libby, Joshua and William Towers brought to a peaceful end an intense few days of live music, featuring our 8th world premiere (Three Pieces for Piano by Stephen McNeff), countless works by contemporary composers, plus hidden gems alongside monoliths of the repertoire. Huge thanks to everyone who supported us in our efforts.
And so it is with hearts full that we look forward to our next festival. The Beverley Chamber Music Festival runs 23rd – 25th September 2021. Co-artistic directors, Martin Roscoe & Libby Burgess, are joined by a glittering team of musicians including Julian Bliss, Ailish Tynan, the Sacconi Quartet, Sophie Rosa, and the Roscoe Piano Trio. If you have not received a physical brochure and would like one, please drop us a line.
Tickets go on sale to Friends & Patrons on 12th July. Public booking opens on 31st July. To become a Friend or Patron please visit the support page.
Join us for this autumnal feast of music. A warm welcome awaits you in Beverley.