The opening concert of the Festival of Chichester could not have been a better scene setter.

Festival opener
Festival opener

The opening concert of the Festival of Chichester could not have been a better scene setter.

Two of classical music’s most complex sonatas emphasised that this Festival is as much about quality as it is ambition.

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Few pianists would attempt a double bill of Beethoven’s piano sonata number 3 and Chopin’s number 3 without a degree of hesitation.

These are both, technically, among the most difficult to navigate on the keyboard.

But in the hands of world-renowned pianist Young-Choon Park, the performance seemed effortless.

Set at Pallant House Gallery and sponsored by David Brown, this was nothing short of a masterpiece, as every bit as great as any of the other masterpieces hanging on the walls.

The Festival of Chichester is an extraordinary community accomplishment.

After the demise of the Chichester Festivities there was the danger of a yawning chasm in the cultural life of the city and the region.

But thanks to the tireless efforts of the volunteer committee, the event is now in its second year and growing in stature with every event.

Hundreds of different performances - from community initiatives to international masterclasses - have been brought together under the one umbrella.

That umbrella was needed on Saturday as bursts of brutal rain soaked participants on the Cathedral green.

But nothing could dampen spirits.

I congratulate all those working tirelessly to support this year’s festival; I know it will continue to go from strength to strength.

As long as it adheres to the unique formula of community ownership combined with an unremitting ambition to offer the very best it cannot fail but to succeed.

Whatever the elements throw at it.

Saturday’s curtain raiser of a piano recital bodes extraordinarily well for 2014.

Gary Shipton