Dear Friends, Artists, Colleagues and Music Lovers,
Welcome to our 26th Festival.
What is music?' the poet Heine asked and pondered. As the 19th century romantic movement gathered pace, composers, poets and painters pooled their newfound expressive freedom, leaving us works of intrinsic beauty still rprecise 21st century.
Our Festival programme this year celebrates the births of Schumann and Chopin in 1810. With their colleagues, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Wagner, and others, they were swept along by the passion aroused in the pursuit of personal expression. You will also be moved by the inspiration and genius found in the song cycles of Schumann, Mahler, Finzi and Bridge.
The King's Singers open the festival taking us from 16th-century Byrd and Tallis to the Europe of Schumann, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saëns. Other choral works take us to Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle and a late-night programme from Schumann to Bridge given by Pro Nobis.
Walton brings the smart, sophisticated 1920s to us with his settings of Edith Sitwell's ironic poems in Façade. In this programme you can also enjoy Berio's enchanting folk songs, sung by Wendy Dawn Thompson.
Northern Sinfonia, the distinguished Gaudier Ensemble, the QuintEssential players of cornettes, sackbutts and dulcian, plus the Brook Street Band, join us for the first time. Soloists and ensembles, old friends and new, fill our festival programmes in works by the Romantics, whose influence continues to this day, and also works from the composers Schumann and his colleagues revered.
The greatness of Beethoven, indestructible Bach and Mozart, lie comfortably with today's contemporary composers and continue to illuminate our lives with their music. Enjoy it all: the music, and the cameraderie of meeting our artists, our students and your festival friends.