The Presteigne Festival is looking forward to an exciting and artistically invigorating Festival in 2016.
The central musical theme, prompted by the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in the summer, is the examination of war and the influence it has had on composers and their music. Included are important works by Messiaen, Shostakovich and Stravinsky, together with Adrian Williams’ extended chamber cantata The Ways of Going (settings of Alun Lewis), Robert Saxton’s The Resurrection of the Soldiers, inspired by Stanley Spencer’s powerful canvas of the same name, Richard Rodney Bennett’s choral setting of A Farewell to Arms and the Fauré Requiem, often associated with remembrance.
We are honoured to welcome Robert Saxton as composer-in-residence. Professor of Composition at the University of Oxford and Tutorial Fellow at Worcester College he is, without doubt, one of the most highly regarded musical statesmen working in the UK today.
There are important birthday celebrations for the Presteigne Festival’s founding artistic director, Adrian Williams and Welsh musical polymath Huw Watkins, and we honour Henri Dutilleux in his centenary year, allowing for a noticeable French accent in the musical content.
The commissioning of new work remains at the Festival’s core, and 2016 offers no fewer than five important new pieces – James Francis Brown’s The Heavens and the Heart for chorus and orchestra, a group of solo piano Haiku from Michael Berkeley, Robert Saxton’s string orchestra work, a chamber ensemble piece from Adrian Williams and the 2015 Royal Philharmonic Society/Presteigne Festival commission, Ravens’ Cage – a work for oboe and piano by prize-winner Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade.
Our successful partnership with Nova Music Opera continues into a fourth year, not with chamber opera but with a new production of Stravinsky’s music theatre masterpiece The Soldier’s Tale utilising narrator, actors and instrumental ensemble.
The Presteigne Festival is particularly admired for its fresh, stylised mix of contemporary music balanced with great 20th century pieces and featuring many classics from the standard repertoire – the programme includes important works from Bach, Mendelssohn and Schumann, via Fauré, Poulenc and Ravel to Britten, Elgar, Shostakovich and Walton.
There is an extended programme of supporting events – Welsh art of the 1920s and 30s with Peter Lord, poet Ruth Padel, Mick Doran’s A-Z of Orchestral triangle playing, music and literary talks, exhibitions, and screenings of the legendary 1960s Harry Palmer films, starring Michael Caine.
The exceptional artist line-up numbers several popular Presteigne favourites and a talented group of newcomers making their Presteigne debuts: Carducci Quartet, Nova Music Ensemble, pianists Huw Watkins and Clare Hammond, Alice Neary cello, Alexandra Wood violin, wind players Emily Pailthorpe oboe, Rozenn Le Trionnaire clarinet and Angela Whelan trumpet, Damian Thantrey baritone, Elizabeth Scorah harp, a specially formed Festival Chamber Choir (conductor: Philip Sunderland) and the much-lauded Presteigne Festival Orchestra.
Brochures are available now and priority booking is open. Online and postal booking opens to everyone on 3 May.