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St Endellion Summer Festival 2014 - Artistic Director’s report

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What a great two weeks that was!

Looking back at some distance - I’m sitting in a hotel room in Munich and Autumn is beginning to make itself felt - the memories are still vivid and vibrant.  What seems to be so special about St Endellion is the active pleasure we all, audience and performers alike, experience in the music-making.  Concert halls often create a slight sense of duty - concerts are what happen there whether they are great, awful or indifferent and there will always be something else on the next night.  Artists and audience are kept apart with separate entrances and sometimes that extends to a distance between stage and audience.  How different - how wonderfully different - was the experience of La Bohème in St Endellion.  The audience became part of the action, the performers were sometimes almost indistinguishable from them as they interacted with one another.  How extraordinary it is to hear and feel this music at the distance of a few feet - to have Mimi and Rodolfo walk among us as they went off to join their friends in Café Momus, to have the excited rabble of children trip over our feet, to be able to see the expressions of pleasure on the faces of the orchestra and the tears, too. I found myself totally absorbed in the drama and emotions in a way I have never experienced in an opera house.

This immediacy was present throughout the whole Festival. The standard of playing and singing was extremely high and so many great moments remain with me - the beautiful string sound in the slow movement of the Brahms Piano Concerto, the wonderful obligato playing in the B minor Mass, the great choral sound in the Sanctus and the profound silence at the end of the Truro performance, the thrilling momentum of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony.  The chamber music was better than ever with really interesting programmes and an exceptional standard of playing.  And what a delight to be able to welcome the Fisherman’s Friends to the Festival for the first (but definitely not last) time.

The dedication and commitment of everyone involved in the Festival is inspiring. There is such a lot of hard work that goes on and the generosity and good humour with which it is undertaken never ceases to amaze me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I am meeting with Martyn Brabbins very shortly to plan next year’s programme. With John Tomlinson coming to sing Boris Godunov it promises to be extraordinary. I can’t wait to see you then.

Mark Padmore