Sunday, 12 July 2009

Impressive line-up for Budleigh Festival of Music and the Arts

With a growing reputation for attracting both talented young artistes and internationally celebrated performers, Budleigh’s Festival of Music and the Arts continues to be a thriving event in the South-West’s cultural calendar.

Now in its fifth successful year, the Festival, supported by Michelmores Solicitors runs from 23 July – 1 August 2009, offering a wide variety of events, including live opera, evening concerts, workshops, and free lunchtime concerts including the Budstock rock festival.

The Festival starts on 23 July with the superb Henschel Quartet, from Munich (pictured right). The Quartet performs regularly in prestigious chamber music events worldwide and is a guest at numerous renowned music festivals and concert halls such as the Tanglewood Festival (USA), the BBC Proms concerts in London and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

They will be joined by pianist Gottlieb Wallisch (left) from Vienna. Commended for his technical brilliance and sensitive interpretation Gottlieb Wallisch has captivated audiences from many of the world’s major concert platforms for more than ten years with his playing.

On July 24 Kurt Nikkanen (right), a virtuoso violinist from the USA, appears with Maria Asteriadou, piano, in a programme that includes Bach, Beethoven (the Kreutzer) and the Waxman Variations on the Opera Carmen. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Kurt Nikkanen began his violin studies at the age of three, later studying with Roman Totenberg and Jens Ellerman. At twelve he gave his Carnegie Hall debut, performing the Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with the New York Symphony. He has been a public favorite and a veteran of the concert stage internationally for over two decades.

Maria Asteriadou (left), a native of Greece, has established herself as a well known piano soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, and Europe. She has collaborated with members of the New York Philharmonic and performs regularly in Festivals and Summer Music Institutes. Together with Kurt Nikkanen she founded the Elektra Chamber Players, an ensemble comprised of performers from the great orchestras and conservatories of New York City.

Ben Palmer and the Orchestra of St. Paul's (pictured right) are at St Peter's Church on Saturday July 25 for Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofief and Babar the Elephant by Francis Poulenc; Ian Caddy recites. Resident at the famous Actors' Church in Covent Garden, the Orchestra of St Paul's (OSP) brings together some of the finest young professional musicians in London, under the baton of Musical Director Ben Palmer. OSP is developing a lasting relationship with the Budleigh Festival; a sell-out performance last year resulted in immediate invitations to the 2009 and 2010 festivals.

On Monday July 27 there is the rare opportunity for Budleigh to hear top class singing by a prize-winning gospel choir, the London Adventist Chorale, under their charismatic conductor Ken Burton (pictured left). The London Adventist Chorale is a group of young musicians and vocalists dedicated to the art of Spirituals, Choral, Classical and Contemporary sacred music. They are perhaps best known for winning the Sainsbury Choir of the year in 1994 and being invited to take part in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's June 1 jubilee concert. The internationally-known choir sang two gospel songs - one especially composed for the event - before an audience of more than 12,000 invited guests at Buckingham Palace, London, and 40,000 more that gathered outside, and syndicated to more than 50 countries worldwide.

Tuesday July 28 is Opera Night and this year it is Puccini's La Bohème. “They meet, they fall in love, they split, she returns, she dies” is Roland Villazon's description of the action. That sounds pretty uncomplicated compared to the real-life tale of Puccini’s own erotic relationships according to my American correspondent Greg Stepanich
But as he points out, Tuesday’s opera still has the power to move us. “Bohème might be the most popular opera in the world, but there's still much to admire about it from a sheer craft standpoint despite that it's anything but unfamiliar.”
(Above, right, La Bohème's composer Giacomo Puccini)

Even Such Is Time is a cantata by local composer Nicholas Marshall (pictured below, right), Director of Music of the Exeter Bach Society. The work, for chorus and chamber orchestra, with baritone Jeremy Huw Williams, is based on the poem by East Budleigh-born Sir Walter Raleigh, and takes place in the Temple Church on Wednesday July 29.

Those with a ticket for this concert will be admitted free to a talk about Raleigh's poetry by Professor Ivan Roots in the Peter Hall at St Peter’s church at 5.00 pm on the same day.
(Left: The portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh in All Saints church, East Budleigh.)

Do not miss the free TV electronic music talk and demonstration by Robert Foster on July 30 at 2.30 pm, also in the Peter Hall, followed next day at 10.30am by a workshop. This will be of particular interest to young people considering a career in music.

Pianist Phillip Dyson (left) will change the mood on Thursday in the Temple Church when he plays a programme from classical to Scott Joplin and Billy Mayerl. Phillip Dyson is regularly heard on the BBC and Classic FM, performs regularly with the most prestigious orchestras and has a great international reputation in Europe and America. He has gained enormous popularity for his unique abilities in both the classical and light music repertoire.

On Friday July 31 in the Temple Church, the celebrated cellist Natalie Clein (right) plays accompanied by Polina Leschenko, piano, for an evening of chamber music. Natalie Clein's exceptional musicality has earned her a number of prestigious prizes including the Classical Brit Award for Young British Performer of 2005 and the Ingrid zu Solms Cultur Preis at the 2003 Kronberg Academie. She won the BBC Young Musician of the Year, aged 16, in 1994 and in the same year was the first ever British winner of the Eurovision Competition for Young Musicians in Warsaw. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Scholarship by the Royal College of Music before completing her studies with Heinrich Schiff in Vienna.

The Russian pianist, Polina Leschenko (left), was born into a family of musicians and began playing the piano under her father’s guidance at the age of 6. She made her solo début at the age of eight with the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra in St Petersburg. She studied with Sergei Leschenko, Vitali Margulis, Pavel Gililov,Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky and Christopher Elton.

The festival draws to its close on Saturday 1 August with an orchestral concert, again featuring Natalie Clein, this time as solo cello in the Haydn Concerto in C.

Finally, down in the Limekiln car park, from noon through until midnight, the bands play in Budstock, celebrating two decades in 2009 as Budleigh’s own rock music festival.

For fuller details of the programme see

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