Situated in a small, intimate town nestling on the Powys/Herefordshire border, the Presteigne Festival has become a mecca for those seeking musical nourishment and discovery in the idyllic surroundings of the Welsh Marches. With a truly forward looking commissioning policy, the organisation works closely with composers and artists to create and curate inspiring programmes and events for an ever-widening Festival community.

Among the exciting ingredients of the 2010 programme is a centenary survey of American composer Samuel Barber, a feature of the music of Franz Schubert and the inclusion of major orchestral, chamber, choral and instrumental music by composer-in-residence Hugh Wood, one of the UK’s most respected musical statesmen.

The Presteigne Festival has a long-held tradition of supporting and promoting new music and this year is no different with a particularly strong crop of commissions. Special prominence is given to music for the voice – Beginnings for mezzo-soprano and string orchestra from Hugh Wood; A Voice of One Delight, a new scena for mezzo-soprano and ensemble by Stephen McNeff; And the Stones Sing, a setting for chorus and orchestra from Alexander L’Estrange to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Presteigne tapestry depicting Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and Distant Thunder a new choral work from Judith Bingham. There will also be All Stars Aligned for violin and piano from Manchester-based composer Joe Duddell and the Festival Orchestra will premiere a new string orchestra arrangement of the Elgar String Quartet commissioned from David Matthews.

2010 has been a truly eventful year in the life of the Presteigne Festival with two brand new elements added to the programme. The Creating Landscapes education project brings five new pieces inspired by the rural landscape and rich heritage of the Welsh Marches from composers Mark Bowden, Cheryl Frances Hoad, Cecilia McDowall, Paul Patterson and Lynne Plowman – the Galliard Ensemble will premiere these works. New pieces of visual art, also commissioned for the project from Ashley Davies, Veronica Gibson and Gareth Rees-Roberts, together with artwork from five local primary schools, will also be unveiled at the Festival.

2010 saw the inaugural Presteigne Festival Competition for Composers, promoted in association with the Birmingham Conservatoire. The winning entry, Dreamtime, by Sussex University undergraduate Matthew Sheeran is to be premiered at the Festival; Matthew will be awarded the first Alan Horne prize for composition.

Other music to be heard includes important works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Finzi, Haydn, Hindemith, Janáček, Mozart, Arvo Pärt, Ravel, Schumann and Tippett – a magnificent array by anyone’s standards.

There is an amazingly wide range of artists performing at the Festival in 2010: John McCabe, the Tippett Quartet, violinist Thomas Gould, cellist Marie Macleod, pianist Tom Poster, the Galliard Ensemble, Catriona Scott (clarinet), mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin, Simon Lepper (piano), Kathryn Thomas (flute), Suzanne Willison-Kawalec (harp), Owen Dennis (oboe), Jo Harris (trumpet), the Joyful Company of Singers under their conductor Peter Broadbent and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra conducted by George Vass, artistic director.

 

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