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The Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts

Presteigne Powys Wales
Description : 

Press statement for release on 1 June 2020

The Presteigne Festival board recently made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Festival. Whilst this is extremely sad both for our regular audience and all the artists, support staff and volunteers involved, it is imperative that the health and safety of the wider Festival community should be of paramount importance.
However, the organisation has managed to arrange an exciting alternative to the 2020 Festival comprising Presteigne Digital (a series of specially-filmed mini-concerts to be streamed via the Presteigne Festival website), a Winter Festival Weekend and the Festival Orchestra's first commercial recording project for the Resonus label, highlighting past Presteigne commissions.
Presteigne Digital, which runs from 24-27 August and will be available to view at any time after that, will feature performances from the Carducci Quartet, Amy Dickson, Christopher Good, Clare Hammond, Tim Horton, Mathilde Milwidsky, Bradley Smith, Oliver Wass and members of Nova Music Opera in repertoire which was to have been featured at the 2020 Festival – six newly commissioned works from Martin Butler, Amelia Clarkson, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Robin Haigh, Joseph Phibbs and Emma-Ruth Richards, contemporary British pieces and music by Beethoven, Britten, Janáček and Schubert.
The programme for the first ever Presteigne Winter Festival Weekend will be announced in mid- August. A nine-event celebration of string and vocal chamber music supported with literary and music talks, similarly comprises content originally programmed for the 2020 Festival. All events, which are planned to take place from 27-29 November (coinciding with the first Sunday of Advent), will be given to a small, socially distanced audience at St Andrew's Church.
The Festival is extremely grateful to many of its grant funders and individual patrons for agreeing to maintain financial support at this difficult time. These alternative projects, and the 2021 Festival, would be impossible to realise without their understanding. Irrespective of this generous assistance, ticket income so vital to our organisation could be reduced by as much as £24,000. Finances and the Festival's future are delicately poised.
Many freelance artists are struggling financially due to the effects of COVID-19. In arranging the activities outlined above, the Presteigne Festival is now able to guarantee much needed performance or cancellation fees for all the artists who had been engaged to appear at the 2020 Festival.
Artistic Director George Vass commented 'Whilst this imposes considerable financial stress on the organisation, artists and composers are at the very core of our activity; without them the Festival would be nothing at all – we have to support them all we can'.
This is the first time in 38 years that the Presteigne Festival has been forced to cancel. It is hoped that this will be the last – plans are currently being made for the 2021 edition, which will run from 26-30 August next year.

Hailed by Musical Opinion Quarterly as 'an indispensable mainstay of the cultural calendar', the 2020 Presteigne Festival programme brings together a typically wide variety of constituents.

Included is an exploration of lesser-known music from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, a feature of the work of Leoš Janáček – one of the most original musical voices of the twentieth-century – and a celebration of Beethoven's 250th birthday year.

The Festival's advocacy of contemporary British music continues with Tarik O'Regan as composerin-residence and a corpus of eight exciting and eclectic commissions from O'Regan (Mosaic Rooms, a concerto for saxophone and string orchestra), Martin Butler (Body Electric, for solo saxophone), Gary Carpenter (a string orchestra piece, as dreams are made on), Amelia Clarkson (a set of songs for tenor and harp), Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade (the Presteigne Festival's first ever 'Evolve' composer), Joseph Phibbs (a Violin Sonata), Emma-Ruth Richards (a string quartet work, Tenebris Litterarum) and 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Emerging Composer, Robin Haigh (a work for solo harp).

The Festival's successful partnership with Nova Music Opera continues into its sixth year, with a
triple-bill – Janáček's atmospheric The Diary of One Who Disappeared in the translation by Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney is programmed with Judith Weir's striking King Harald's Saga – an opera in three acts for unaccompanied female voice and Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade's fascinating new music theatre work Reginald: The Musings of an Edwardian Gentleman, which draws its material from the writings of Saki.

A balanced collection of supporting events includes a trio of Irish films, literary talks, an exhibition in association with the Sidney Nolan Trust and Presteigne Open Studios, organised in co-operation with locally-based artists.

The 2020 Festival boasts a wonderfully starry artist line-up – the Carducci Quartet, Nova Music Opera, violinist Chloë Hanslip, pianists Clare Hammond and Andrew Matthews-Owen, Australian saxophonist Amy Dickson, singers Bradley Smith and Jonathan Gunthorpe, trumpeter Angela Whelan and harpist Oliver Wass. The Bath Camerata are choir-in-residence conducted by director Benjamin Goodson, whilst the ever-popular resident Festival Orchestra undertakes three concerts under artistic director George Vass.

Community outreach continues to be a vital part of the Presteigne Festival's offer, enabling better
engagement with communities both at home and away. In 2020 we'll be working with senior
members of the community in association with the Bleddfa Centre and the East Radnorshire Day Centre, whilst our Autumn Tour to Bristol and Birmingham will be undertaken by exciting young harpist, Oliver Wass.

The full programme will be available in print and online at the end of April 2020

Brochures available
at the end of April from:
Presteigne Festival, PO Box 30,
Powys LD8 2WF
01544 267800

Images :

  1. Bath Camerata
  2. Carducci Quartet
  3. Amy Dickson
  4. Clare Hammond
  5. Chloe Hanslip
  6. Bradley Smith

Bath CamerataCarducci Quartet 1Dickson Amy 1Hammond Clare 3Hanslip Chloe 2Smith Bradley


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