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Easter Festival 2016 - Director’s Report

Huh. Having looked up recent post-Easter Festival reports I see that my opening line has been, invariably, “cloudless skies, glorious sunshine, heatwave, and so on.  Not so in 2016 where, after a long wet Cornish winter, St Endellion was hit by Storm Katy on Easter night who rent asunder our Festival marquee in several places, rendered our car park unusable and swept plans of picnics and surfing on lazy halcyon afternoons well out to sea.  But, such is the strength of will of both musicians and audience, these catastrophes were of little consequence in the big picture of the 2016 St Endellion Easter Festival. It was a stormer!

After 43 years of cherishing this multi-talented and most special congregation, I am still spellbound each spring when the first notes go down on the opening night, heralding a glorious tapestry of delights throughout the week. This year, Andrew Watkinson’s   D Minor Partita of Bach opened the Festival brilliantly and set the pace for a magical week. From a candlelit Wintereisse with Mark Padmore to candlelit jazz with Tina May, from life (Finzi’s Dies Natalis) and death (Bach’s Ich habe Genug) to the history of the trumpet, given both hilariously and informatively by national treasure, Crispian Steele-Perkins. These, two glorious chamber concerts and five Thoughts for the Day led us to the final weekend where the whole company gave two performances of Bach’s great B Minor Mass (a talismanic work for this Festival) under the baton of Eamonn Dougan, and also a mixed programme including Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody with Jennifer Johnston, works by Beethoven, Weir and MacMillan and a warm and expansive performance of Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, conducted by Endellion “virgin” David Watkin.

David, an internationally renowned musician, immediately “got” the place and the Festival (not always easy) and will return next year, both as conductor and in the role of artistic director, no doubt taking the Festival to even greater heights.   That programme is being hatched as you read this, with many delights in store – final details will be published here towards the end of this year.

The mix of rising young stars and internationally established musicians augurs well for the future of the Festival and I am so grateful to all who took part this year (and down the years), and to the packed and appreciative audiences.  Special thanks must go, too, to the committee and the support team without which we would founder – food, beds, chair moving, car parking, coffee making, child minding (the crèche this year decorated the altar magnificently for the Final Eucharist), ticket selling, treasury, publicity, music hire, parties, the Art Exhibition, general trouble shooting – all provided with efficiency and good humour.  And we are indebted to the hospitality and blessing of the Rector and the Parish, AND to Dr Rowan Williams for leading our Festival Eucharist and adding serious magic to that service. Thank you.

One can only ask these folk to come, and, miraculously, most said yes, and helped to create another happy and inspirational Festival – regardless of extreme weather, it was, undoubtedly, one of the best ever. Join us in 2017 for a repeat experience………..

44th St Endellion Easter Festival - 8th – 16th April 2017

Fran Hickox

Festival Director (1974 – 2016)