Reflection and comment

Thu, 5 Oct 2017

It's only about 6 weeks since our festival drew to its close but with our year-end now complete we can look back and reflect on the festival days which illuminated August for so many, despite a decidedly wet and windy weather front. What the grey clouds settling on peaks and fells could not obscure, was the wonderful succession of  40 concerts  which grew in momentum as days sped by….with some glorious sunny days as well!

An enthralling performance of Bach’s B minor Mass with the inimitable Solomon’s Knot Ensemble opened our festival in the excellent Coronation Hall, Ulverston. 

"This was the most uplifting and memorable concert I have ever been to" is just one of many rapturous comments. Our thanks go to the Sir John Fisher Foundation for their support towards this concert.

The next evening, in complete contrast, we moved to Zeffirellis, Ambleside, starring the jazz singer Emma Smith in her tribute concert to Ella Fitzgerald..."Emma Smith...great voice…and the jazz trio…just fantastic".

The timeless genius of Schubert was a festival theme, linking many programmes. From an incredibly moving performance  of his epic cycle Winterreise,  given by  Benjamin Appl and Simon Lepper, which left us all,  in the words of one, "emotionally rung out but strangely fulfilled",  we could absorb the beauty and depths of his last great piano sonata revealed in Carole Presland’s "inspirational" recital. Robert Cohen, partnered by Carole in his own spell-binding recital, naturally included Schubert’s exquisite Arpeggione Sonata along with solo Bach, Shostakovich and ending with Orr’s Carmen Fantasy! "Superb…wonderful selection and choice superbly played. I’m much happier now than when I came in!". 

Transported to India, Punita Gupta, took us on a "mesmerising" journey of Indian classical music and  10 days later ‘Kabantu’ threw phenomenal energy into their ‘world music’ concert in Windermere’s Carver Church, commented on as "truly awesome".

First appearances at LDSM Festival included the Villiers String Quartet and the oboist James Turnbull with pianist Libby Burgess.  James joined the Villiers in a new collaboration for Mozart’s Oboe Quartet. Another new collaboration with the Villiers Quartet brought a most moving performance of Samuel Barber’s setting of ‘Dover Beach’ with baritone Benjamin Appl.

Festival Debut Concerts profiled 20 exciting young musicians in an important new initiative throughout the Festival. Designed to offer the invaluable experience of a full professional concert engagement, plus public masterclasses with our international artists, FD Concerts emphasized our ongoing and founding commitment to ‘professional development’. Filmed and recorded for our website we are deeply indebted to Mr and Mrs Rayner for their continued support towards our masterclasses. Our eight Festival Debut Concerts given by 2 quartets, 2 trios, 2 duos and 2 soloists had great successes and attracted full, if not sell-out, audiences. In residence for 2/3 days, eager, responsive and articulate in masterclass exchanges, our young musicians also made valuable contacts.  All videos of our masterclasses led by Levon Chilingirian, Robert Cohen, and the Gould Piano Trio will be on our website by Christmas. "Both masterclasses were so interesting. Very lively and rewarding: a special and important experience in the Festival".

Relishing Haydn, the Gould Piano Trio interwove new works by Mark Simpson and Simon Rowland-Jones into their programmes treating us to stylish "ebullient" Haydn and the "romantic grandeur" of Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky.   The Chilingirian Quartet, in their persuasively strong programmes featured Haydn, with Beamish, Elgar, McEwan and Beethoven drawing rapturous applause and comment…. "all three pieces beautifully played and v. moving".

Dulcet folk melodies introduced and played by Leveret contrasted entirely with the dramatic heights of Italian, French and German operas on screen at Fellinis, including Mozart’s ‘La clemenza di Tito’ live from Glyndebourne. Balancing a late-night concert, celebrating Monteverdi’s 450th anniversary with the Herdwyck Consort, we welcomed Gwendolen Martin, soprano, and Tom Primrose on virginals, whose atmospheric programme crossed centuries and countries with Byrd, Caccini, Monteverdi and Purcell.

Our festival buzz had mounted high over busy days, packed with more events than there is room for here. We welcomed many artists making first appearances at LDSM along with newcomers experiencing the pleasures of live music in our historic and intimate venues. The Patrons of LDSM again hosted a ‘Meet the Artists Lunch’ on our final day, where Ambleside Parish Centre was transformed with gleaming table cloths, wine glasses and an array of tempting dishes, to say nothing of animated conservation and greetings of ‘old acquaintances’.

Bringing Festival 2017 to its close, we welcomed, for the first time, the esteemed Berkeley Ensemble in two consecutive evening concerts using St Thomas’ Church Kendal, and the Parish Church, Ambleside. Each programme ended with keystone works for all musicians and music lovers: Beethoven’s septet and on the final night Schubert’s octet.

From the many comments sent to us, perhaps this one sums up recollections for many:  "Another wonderful fortnight of music, particularly the B minor mass…an amazing performance.  I appreciated hearing works by lesser known composers …Beamish, Röntgen, McEwen, Rowland-Jones…The Schubert Octet is a grand way to end the Festival…".

On a very personal note we express our deep gratitude to all our artists who have given such wonderful concerts, extending and enriching musical horizons for all. 

Looking ahead and still to come:  

2017 ‘Patrons of LDSM’ AGM day is Friday November 24th 

2018 ‘Patrons of LDSM’ Winter and Spring concerts: Jan 25; Feb 22; March 22; April 26; May 31

Full information letters will be sent to members shortly.

2018  Festival dates are: Saturday, July 28th to Friday August 10th.
Festival artists always comment on how much they are touched by the beauty of the Lake District.  Recently awarded with World Heritage Status, it is the perfect setting for absorbing great music and inspiring performances.  An audience member this year commented, "watching the lighting change on Wansfell behind the musicians is spectacular."

Renna Kellaway MBE
Festival Director