The 2019 concerts included stellar performances from:
Bella Tromba –
An award-winning British chamber ensemble, exploring the world of trumpet quartet music.
The Albion Quartet
They brought the house down in 2017 and were fantastic this year also.
ZRI – Zum Roten Igel
An amazing group who bring the atmosphere of The Red Hedgehog Tavern frequented by Brahms and Schubert to our Festival.
The festival began with the incredibly talented young brass quartet, Bella Tromba who began with Monteverdi and finished with George Gershwin. The audience was amazed by the variety of sounds produced by the trumpets particularly in Peter Longworth’s atmospheric ‘Days of Bells and Flying Creatures’. They even had the unexpected pleasure of seeing that piece conducted by the composer! Sadly, two members of the quartet were indisposed on the day but they were more than ably replaced by Neil Brough and Katie Lodge.
We were treated to an amazing cornucopia of brass playing.
Albion Quartet returned to Bledington in 2019 with their programme based around the Fugue. Entitled ‘The Art of Fugue, Voices on Dialogue’, the programme was linked by Contrapuncti 1 and 9 by Bach with Haydn, Schumann and William Walton. The communication between the players of Albion Quartet is tangible, their playing is beautiful and their stage presence stunning. The audience was totally enthralled.
The final night brought another returning group – the inimitable ZRI with their exciting take on Schubert’s String Quintet in C major. The combination of clarinet, violin, cello, accordion and santouri is unique as is the amazing musicianship of all the players. As clarinetist Ben Harlan walked around the church improvising on gypsy themes dressed in his wonderful suit decorated with chocolate bars, there was a frisson of excitement amongst the audience. His beautiful sonorous bass clarinet also took everyone by storm. ZRI is only one of the groups who visit Bledington and say that it is the best acoustic they play in.
2019 was a great year musically, remember all our musicians give mini-concerts or workshops to the children of Bledington Primary School in the afternoons prior to the evening concert. This is hugely enjoyed by the children and we know that some have been inspired to take up instruments themselves. Sadly 2019 was disappointing on ticket sales. If you didn’t come you missed three treats!
The following was written by a member of the audience who attended all three concerts this year:
‘Stand well back, she’s going to blow! ‘
I’m referring to Bella Tromba, of course. Who knew brass instruments could produce so many different sounds? But everything was possible in the hands of such talented and enthusiastic players, even bird song and peals of bells, and some new pieces came alive through the composers’ explanations.
We came home enlightened and energised by the rip-roaring Gershwin that ended the evening.
The Albion Quartet offered a sparklingly refreshing examination of fugue in some of the greatest chamber music. It’s fascinating to watch the players communicating with the almost imperceptible twitch of an elbow or eyebrow which in this case urged ever more intensely exquisite nuances of expression. Walton’s second string quartet was beguilingly poignant in its contemplation of English Romanticism’s blend of wistfulness and renewal in the post-war years. It seemed so appropriate to perform it in an English country church.
And then there was ZRI … ‘ yes it’s Schubert, but not as we know it!’ Part music, part theatre- there was so much exuberance, but in all the musical excitement there was never anything less than a profound regard for Schubert’s brilliance. Max Baillie rode out an inner storm while clutching his violin as if his life depended upon coaxing out its extraordinarily soulful voice, often sharing a grin of sheer delight with the long-limbed clarinet player who could barely contain his desire to dance. Indeed, it was a wonder the audience resisted leaping to their feet to join in.
I cannot believe how fortunate we are to have the chance of enjoying such a feast of good, live music on our doorsteps, and I ‘m grateful of the chance to thank Rodney Beacham and the team for all their hard work.
If you missed out this year, I understand he is already planning for June 2020.
As you probably know our performers also take some time to educate the local school children on various aspects of music and performing, which is always very much enjoyed by the children.
And this was another lovely letter we received.