Artist-in-Residence, Dame Emma Kirkby; Featured Living Composer, Matthew Taylor.
Based in the historic county town of Hertford, just twenty miles from central London and nestled in the attractive Hertfordshire countryside, the Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM) is the brainchild of composer James Francis Brown and conductor Tom Hammond.
The performers this year are: Clare Hammond piano (Friday June 9, 7.30pm), Emma Kirkby soprano with Marcia Hadjimarkos fortepiano (Saturday June 10, 5pm), Nathaniel Mander and Heather Tomala harpsichord, four hands (Saturday 10 June, 9pm), Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) with John Lenehan piano (Sunday June 11, 11am), Carducci Quartet (Sunday June 11, 3.30pm).
Emma and Marcia will also be giving a Masterclass at Haileybury for Hertfordshire singers and pianists on June 9, and a talk about their lives in music in Hertford’s historic Friends Meeting House on June 10. The Festival’s 2017 theme of Hidden Hertford – The Haydn Connection is inspired by the little-known fact that Haydn spent the summer of 1791 in the adjoining hamlet of Hertingfordbury. He stayed for six weeks with local banker Nathaniel Brassey, a friend of the violinist and impresario Salomon. It is thought that several major works might have been composed during his stay, including the ‘Surprise’ Symphony. Haydn may well have visited the Friends Meeting House in Hertford as the Brassey family were Quakers: Hertford boasts the oldest Quaker meeting house in the world and is one of the Festival’s venues, along with All Saints’ Church, Hertford and Haileybury School in Hertingfordbury. Artist-in-Residence Dame Emma Kirkby brings celebrated fortepianist Marcia Hadjimarkos with her to explore a programme of Haydn’s English songs, alongside lesser-known contemporary composers George Frederick Pinto, William Shield and Stephen Storace, plus music by Johann Peter Salomon himself. This promises to be fascinating, especially in the delightful acoustics of All Saints’, the second largest ecclesiastical space in the county after St Albans Abbey.
Featured Living Composer Matthew Taylor’s affinity with the music of Haydn makes him the perfect choice for this Festival. The programme includes two world premières of his chamber music. His Fantasy Pieces will be performed by violist Sarah-Jane Bradley and pianist John Lenehan at Haileybury and the eagerly anticipated 8th string quartet, Celebrations and Salutations, by the Carducci Quartet at All Saints’ Church.