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St Endellion Easter Festival 12th to 20th April 2014

Not an anniversary Festival, but undoubtedly one to be applauded! After the rigours of our epic 40th Festival last year, 2014 produced some spectacular music-making, and day after day of cloudless blue skies added to the sense of general well being that one associates with this remarkable place.

It was a year of many new faces, not least an impressive line up of maestri to steer us through the week. 150 folk signed up for the Come and Sing day of Mozart works, inspiringly taken by Peter Asprey who set the tone for the Festival. Tom Blunt, Aidan Oliver and Keith Slade all continued from strength to strength, Tom in his cherishing of Ed Lyon’s beautiful Britten Serenade and his sensitive performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion(with wonderful supporting solos from Katy Hill, Jamie Laing, Ed Lyon, Mark Wilde, David Soar and Henry Waddington), Aidan in his wise interpretation of MacMillan’s Seven Last Words, and Keith in his Vaughan Williams and Bach, together with his pyrotechnic clarinet performance of Bartok’s Contrasts in the second chamber concert – we are privileged indeed to have a principal clarinet who is also so happy on the rostrum!    

For someone who is a trained orchestral timpanist, my passion for chamber music may be a little surprising, but I am often happiest at Endellion listening to a few of the best playing the best. This year we were blessed with Andrew and Shuna Watkinson and Caroline Palmer giving a totally integrity filled Opening Concert of Bach, Chopin and Schubert, to be followed two days later by a classic Endellion tapestry of works, showing off the many talents in our company, in particular those of our new leader, Martin Gwilym-Jones, whose control in Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel and his technique in Bartok’s Contrasts left those listening breathless! And particular mention must be made of Andrew Watkinson’s Beethoven Violin Concerto on Good Friday, which confirmed him as an Endellion treasure if such an accolade was needed, and at whose performance it was a privilege to be present. Together with a beautifully contemplative Lunchtime Concert given in St Kew Church by the Easter Scholars and Baroque Players, and with an affectionately crafted late night tribute to War via words and song by Tom Guthrie, the Festival, I think, ticked most boxes.  And some stirring Thoughts for the Day cemented the artistic strands together.

None of the above could happen without a huge amount of work on the part of the Easter Committee and many others, neither without the support of the Rector and his PCC, for all of which I am hugely grateful. And a mention should be made of the Friends of the Festivals whose patronage is crucial, both in financial terms and in the warmth of their support.  We were pleased to hold a very happy drinks party for them this year which I hope in some way showed our gratitude – do feel free to sign up to their illustrious band!

But, on a more sombre note, soon after the end of the Festival, the announcement was made of the retirement, this autumn, of Father John May, the much loved Rector of Endellion and the North Cornwall Cluster of churches.  Having worked, as Festival Director, with four Rectors over many years, I have appreciated the special magic that each has brought to the place, and the welcome that they have given the Festivals. We all now wait with baited breath to see who will be the next incumbent – John’s will be quite hard magic to follow! We wish him every blessing at this, “the start of the rest of his life”, and hope that we can continue to keep the Endellion flame burning, that he has so inspirationally fanned,

As I sign off, on a remote island in the west of Scotland, I am pleased to say that plans for Easter 2015 are well established.  There will be a rich programme of chamber, orchestral and choral concerts, plus candlelit jazz, Thoughts for the Day and the increasingly popular Come and Sing day which will open the proceedings. A stellar cast is promised, which includes the distinguished composer and conductor, James MacMillan, who will bring a significant and magical connection to this Celtic outpost.

42nd St Endellion Easter Festival

Saturday 4th – Sunday 12th April 2015

Full programme details and further information available here in the autumn.

I hope very much to see you there –

Frances Hickox

   - history of the Easter Festival