Lewes Chamber Music Festival more popular than ever before

Lewes Chamber Music Festival. Photo by Anna Patarakina.
Lewes Chamber Music Festival. Photo by Anna Patarakina.

It was the biggest and best ever Lewes Chamber Music Festival, said organisers who were thrilled with the appreciative audiences in the town.

Held last weekend it featured performances from Glyndebourne counter tenor Iestyn Davies and a grand total of eight concerts at four venues.

The newly restored St John Sub Castro Church, the 13th century St Peter’s Church in Firle and the 16th century Westgate Chapel in Lewes were amongst the venues.

Festival founder and artistic director Beatrice Philips said: “This has been our biggest and best festival so far – with more people coming to hear really exciting performances by some of the best young professionals playing in the UK today.

“I am delighted that with the support of so many across my home town we have been able to create this exciting celebration of great chamber music and outstanding musical performance.”

The Festival (June 12-14) included 25 pieces, 19 musicians and 12 hours of music.

Lewes singer and classical music blogger Paul Austin Kelly was full of praise for Beatrice.

He said: “Credit for the resounding success of the Festival falls squarely in the lap of its founder.

“Not only does she deserve kudos for her creative energy in assembling this distinguished cadre of players, she also dazzled on violin in several of the concerts.”

The festival took full advantage of the intimate spaces available in Lewes.

At St John Sub Castro audiences could be seated around the performers and the historic Westgate Chapel provided space for a late night supper concert catered by local chef Sheba Anvari.

A new venue for the festival this year was All Saints in Lewes where raked seating allowed performers to be seen and heard to best effect.

The festival also took in the beautiful and timeless St Peter’s church in Firle which featured the most modern piece of all, a violin and viola duo by Edmund Finnis completed only this year.

Audiences were treated to clever programming which placed traditional and much-loved composers - the main focus being Haydn this year - alongside new and overlooked masters such as the Russian romantic composers Taneyev and Catoire.

The beauty of these neglected compositions was one highlight of the festival, organisers said.

It also reached out to younger audiences, offering free tickets to under 26s, with support from the Cavatina Trust.

The festival was well supported by some leading local companies, with wine supplied by Breaky Bottom, and Court Garden, beer courtesy of Harveys, and free coffee from Compass Coffee, served up alongside homemade cakes from family and friends.

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