Stour Music 2016
17 – 26 June 2016
In his introduction to the first Stour Music festival, the poet Christopher Hassall spoke about ‘The shared experience…a communion between listener and performer’. “An artist”, he said, “needs to be in communication with fellow-beings, the more directly the better. The fulfilment of his work is an experience shared.” Celebrating fifty years of the festival in 2012, the counter-tenor Robin Blaze said something similar: “Taking part in Stour Music is like a refreshing shower of everything that is best about music-making. The camaraderie, the range of musical styles, the knowledgeable audience, the beautiful surroundings. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it’s this sense of shared enjoyment that makes for the truly special musical moments in our lives.”
Over the years, undoubtedly one of the most important aspects in achieving this has been the festival’s location, the glorious mediaeval Pilgrim church of All Saints’ Boughton Aluph. As Christopher Hasssall again said, “With the appropriate setting and a perceptive audience of proportionate size, the work will not only sound, but feel right”, a sentiment echoed by conductor Harry Christophers (right) when he says, “The intimate ambience of the church is so suited to the music of the Renaissance (which) allows us as performers to really convey what we are about.” So it is a special pleasure this year to welcome back The Sixteen, who will be making Stour one of the stops on their 2016 Choral Pilgrimage.
Vocal music again features strongly in this year’s festival programme, with a return visit from another celebrated vocal ensemble, Stile Antico (right), and the first appearance of a relatively new ensemble The Marian Consort, who will be celebrating the anniversaries of Cipriano de Rore and Carlo Gesualdo in their Late Night Extra concert.
Instrumental highlights include Florilegium, performing the complete Bach Brandenburg Concertos; The King’s Consort, with sopranos Julia Doyle and Marianne Beate Kielland performing Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbres; and Fretwork celebrating its 30th anniversary with The Magdalena Consort in a programme of music by Orlando Gibbons. And to round off the 2016 festival, the Festival Choir & Orchestra will be performing Purcell’s great 1692 Ode on St Cecilia’s Day, together with Handel’s Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne. A feast indeed! Don’t miss it.