Situated in an intimate town on the Powys/Herefordshire border, the Presteigne Festival has become a mecca for those seeking artistic nourishment and musical discovery in idyllic surroundings. 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.
2012 is a very special year for the Presteigne Festival – we celebrate thirty years of promoting great music in the unspoiled countryside of the Welsh Marches; we’ll take this opportunity to look back over past successes and to look forward to an exciting and ever more diverse future. The Festival takes place over a busy six-day period at the end of August – we’ll promote over thirty events of which sixteen are concerts supported with complimentary activities to include talks, walks and literary events. Our main concert venue is St Andrew’s Church in Presteigne, for many years the jewel in the Festival’s crown, with other performances given at village churches and halls in the surrounding area.
Popular Scottish-based composer Sally Beamish is to be composer-in-residence for the 2012 Festival, and there will be an exciting crop of commissions from composers who have strong-held links with Presteigne: two new orchestral pieces – a saxophone concerto from Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe and Variations on a theme of Reger for string orchestra by Matthew Taylor; chamber pieces include an oboe quintet from Michael Berkeley, a string quartet (his seventh - Summer eves) by John McCabe, together with a new work for two violins and viola (Rousseau’s Execution) from Cecilia McDowall, a piece for solo cello (Set in Motion) by Elizabeth Winters and three songs for soprano and piano by James Francis Brown, Peter Fribbins and Alan Mills.
2012 will see artistic horizons extended with further outreach activity. Throughout the school year, children from five local primary schools will be working with professional writers and musicians as part of Singing Histories, an exciting education project which culminates with the performance of a new work by Liz Lane to be premiered at a special community concert in July 2012.
The Festival is also to continue its association with Dominic Horne and the Birmingham Conservatoire, in the promotion of a third competition for composers with a composers’ workshop in Birmingham. The winning work will be premiered at the 2012 Festival by virtuoso saxophonist, Amy Dickson. The Presteigne Festival City Tour, which takes place in autumn 2012, will visit important venues in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford – a trio of two violins and viola will perform a programme of repertoire first heard at the Festival in August.
Apart from exciting pieces by contemporary and twentieth-century British composers, other music to be performed includes important works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, Ross Edwards, Grieg, Haydn, Hindemith, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Schumann, Richard Strauss and Webern – a magnificent array by anyone’s standards.
An impressive collection of performing talent will be in evidence at the Festival in 2012, many artists returning specially to join in our thirtieth anniversary celebrations: the Carducci Quartet, world-class wind players Nicholas Daniel (oboe) and Amy Dickson (saxophone), popular string players Gemma Rosefield (cello), Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) and Retorica violinists Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo, pianists Tom Poster, Simon Lepper and Catherine Milledge, singers Gillian Keith (soprano), William Purefoy (countertenor), Matthew Long (tenor) and Michael Bundy (baritone), actor Crawford Logan, the City of Canterbury Chamber Choir and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra conducted by artistic director, George Vass.
Continuing its important partnership with BBC Radio 3, two concerts from the Festival are to be broadcast.