Celebrating its twenty-ninth year, the Presteigne Festival continues to delight and inspire audiences with a wide variety of music-based arts events. The concert programme provides a carefully balanced mix of contemporary composers, twentieth-century classics and a rich vein of wonderful repertoire from the past, whilst supporting events provide a well-informed insight into the world of music and the arts today. 2011 will be another exciting year as the Presteigne Festival’s artistic horizons develop further.
After the great success of the first Presteigne Festival Composers Competition in 2010, the winner of this year’s competition is the twenty-eight year old London based composer Jon Opstad. The competition was open to British composers between the ages of twenty and thirty-five; Jon will be awarded the Alan Horne Prize (a cash prize of £1,000) and his work Searching will be premiered by outstanding Russian pianist Alissa Firsova at the 2011 Festival. Five short-listed composers recently attended a workshop day with competition judges at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Thanks to a special cultural association with the Lithuanian Embassy in London, the 2011 Festival offers a wide range of Lithuanian music with many UK premieres; as a result, Zita Bružaitė, one of Lithuania’s leading composers, will have a residency at the 2011 Festival. Other highlights include a survey of the music of composer-in-residence Joseph Phibbs, mini-features of Bartók and Shostakovich and a musical celebration for Cecilia McDowall’s sixtieth birthday year.
As ever at Presteigne there is a strong crop of commissions with three exciting chamber orchestra pieces from Huw Watkins, John Pickard and Joseph Phibbs. In addition there will be a new setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Joe Duddell, chamber pieces from Zita Bružaitė and John Hawkins, and a new song cycle from Julian Phillips.
The 2011 artist roster is particularly impressive and includes popular composer/pianist Huw Watkins, the successful prize-winning Navarra Quartet, virtuoso violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen, fast-rising Cornish-Welsh soprano Helen-Jane Howells, celebrated percussionist Chris Brannick, double-bass player Benjamin Griffiths and Sally Pryce, one of the leading harpists of her generation.
A specially formed group, the Presteigne Festival Soloists, comprising five outstanding young performers –Sara Trickey (violin), Rebecca Knight (cello), Joanna Shaw (flute), Catriona Scott (clarinet) and Alissa Firsova (piano) – will give three concerts at the Festival and, as part of a new outreach initiative, will tour a lunchtime programme to Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff in the autumn. We are particularly pleased that the critically acclaimed Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London under their conductor Rupert Gough are able to join us for concerts and services throughout the Festival; the ever-popular Festival Orchestra will be in evidence under conductor and artistic director, George Vass.