This year the Chester Summer Music Festival included artists from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Norway, Belarus and Russia and ran from 1st – 16th July 2011. Celebrating its 34th year, performances at the festival included vocal music from The King’s Singers and the Gabrieli Consort, violin repertoire from Jack Liebeck, Pavel Šporcl and Ruth Palmer and jazz with Stefano Bollani and cabaret with Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett. Fellow YCAT artists Rhodes Piano trio, Philip Higham (cello) and the Doric String Quartet also took part in the festival.
On Monday 4th July 2011 I returned to St Mary’s Centre, Chester to perform in the first lunchtime concert of the festival a recital of arias and song with pianist Daniel Browell. The concert was supported by friends of the Chester Summer Music Festival and was really well attended. I had previously performed at the Festival for the first time in July 2008 and it was just as I had remembered – a lovely audience, atmosphere and venue.
St Mary’s centre, originally a medieval parish church, is situated in the south west of the city on top of St Mary’s hill behind Chester Castle. There is some great information about St Mary’s Centre here.
This year the Festival had a theme of British Music running through the programmes and I loved the opportunity to celebrate pieces by Benjamin Britten and Elgar during the recital.
It was such a joy to be a part of the finale concert of the Chester Summer Music Festival at Chester Cathedral on the evening of Saturday 16th July 2011. I performed Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Five Tudor Portraits” with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor John Wilson, Baritone Christopher Purves and the Chester Festival Chorus under the direction of their chorus master Frances Cooke.
The Chester Festival Chorus was formed in 1981 and follows a rich tradition of choral singing in Chester. Over the last 30 years it has established itself as one of the leading large scale choirs in the North West.
Chester Cathedral is a truly remarkable building with a history spanning almost two thousand years – it was a perfect setting for the finale concert with a full house and a truly celebratory atmosphere of “The Best of British” Music and a great Festival! Thank you to the organisers of the Festival, who did an amazing job, and everyone who joined in the celebrations!
“Chester, summertime and great music-making in beautifully unique surroundings: there’s no better way to spend your time!” Andrew Cornall, Artistic Director of the Chester Summer Music Festival