2015 Festival

I wish I could explain how inspired I feel. It has been a true privilege being here.
Elena Urioste, 2015 Musician-in-residence.

Elena Urioste at Roman River 2015
Elena Urioste at Roman River 2015

Our first co-production with the Mercury Theatre sold out, and several new ventures were successfully launched during the main festival. We commissioned and premiered a new work by Gwilym Simcock, premiered in front of a series of canvasses specially created for the festival by John Doubleday our 2015 festival artist and hung in a collaboration between the town’s two main art galleries. We held the first concerts for 117 years in a disused 1851 hall in the centre of Colchester, and sold out our first ever orchestral concert.

New funding from the Jerwood Foundation enabled us to provide mentoring and performance opportunities for 6 emerging artists (Nathaniel Boyd, Ruth Gibson, Josh Hayward, Stephen Williams, Cristina Marroni and Alexander Wide) on our ‘Jerwood Young Artists’ scheme, and we invited our first international musician-in-residence, New York-based violinist Elena Urioste to give six concerts.

The quality of the music prompted several standing ovations, The hugely appreciative audiences gave an exceptional degree of focus and concentration during the concerts. Almost all the music was verbally introduced by the charismatic performers, and the festival continued its friendly, informal concert style.

Some exceptional musicians fitted a visit to our festival into their international schedules this year. International soloists Roman Simovic and Tim Hugh played piano trios in Mistley before a trip to Japan with the LSO; and Mark Padmore and Sally Matthews kicked off European recital tours in Fordham and Copford respectively.

For those looking for something non-classical, the amazing Joe Stilgoe played liquid nightclub in Colchester, and Will McNicol & Luke Selby performed in a derelict 1851 public meeting hall in central Colchester. And for those who wanted to dip their toe into classical music for the first time, Handel’s Messiah was performed round the corner from where the composer’s own band of musicians played it as part of an 18th-century tour.

We were only able to bring all this to you with the support of our wonderful sponsors and funders. For instance, new support from Jerwood Charitable Foundation enabled us to foster some exceptional emerging artists working alongside principals from the Britten Sinfonia.

Our education projects were as wide-ranging as last year, and some expanded to continue throughout the academic year.

Main festival 

Thurs 17 Sept

6pm North House Gallery, Manningtree Opening drinks & private view of new art by John Doubleday

8pm Mistley ChurchRoman Simovic, Tim Hugh & Alissa Firsova play Brahms, Shostakovich & Firsova

Fri 18 Sept 8pm Fordham Church Mark Padmore and Simon Lepper – Haydn, Mozart & Schubert

Sat 19 Sept 11am Abberton Church Fenella Humphreys – new music by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Piers

Hellawell, Sally Beamish, Adrian Sutton and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, plus Bach’s E major partita

6pm Fingringhoe ChurchChiaroscuro 4tet play Mozart, Haydn & Beethoven on gut strs

Sun 20 Sept 6pm Copford Church Sally Matthews & Simon Lepper – English song recital

Wed 23 Sept 8pm St Martin’s Ch de Falla, Ponce, Guastavino, Villa- Lobos, Lauro, Brouwer,

Oliva & Barrios – Amaia Azcona (sop) & Morgan Szymanski (gtr)

Thurs 24 Sept

7pm St George’s Hall, Zsolt Tihamer-Visontay, Elena Urioste, Gillianne Haddow, Ruth Gibson, Tim

Colchester Hugh & Nathaniel Boyd – Bach, Kodaly Duo & Brahms Sextet

9pm St Martin’s, Colchester Wilbye, Dvorak, Kodaly & Mendelssohn – Colchester Chamber Choir

Friday 25 Sept

6pm mosaic space, 6pm Anthony Roberts in conversation with Festival Artist John Doubleday

firstsite, Colchester 7.30 World premiere Gwilym Simcock+ Sibelius & Nielson / Sacconi Quartet

Saturday 26 Sept

4pm St Peter’s Church, Chamber version of Handel’s Messiah on period instruments with Matthew

Colchester Truscott, Richard Lester & other leading players and singers.

9pm St Martin’s Church Shostakovich & Schnittke piano 5tets – Charles Owen, Arisa Fujita & friends

Sunday 27 Sept

11am Tymperleys Goldberg Variations arr string trio – David Alberman, Hannah Strijbos, OJ

2pm Colchester Castle Purcell songs – Julia Doyle, Matthew Truscott, Jonathan Rees, Pawel Siwczak

5pm Moot Hall Two new commissions plus Bruckner, Fauré, Bridge works for organ and choir

8pm St George’s Hall New material from Will McNicol (gtr) & Luke Selby (drums)

Tues 29 Sept Layer Marney Elena Urioste (vln) & Tom Poster (pno) Mozart, de Falla, Messiaen & Brahms

Wed 30 Sept Liquid nightclub (formally the Grand Theatre) Joe Stilgoe, piano & vocals

Thurs 1 Oct 8pm Stoke by Nayland Britten Sinfonia & Jerwood YA – Gounod, Barber, Ligeti, Mozart

Fri 2 Oct 8pm Fordham Alexandra Dariescu (pno) replaces Sergio Tiempo – solo recital

Sat 3 Oct 6pm Stoke by N RVW Tallis Fantasia, Sibelius violin concerto, Brahms 2nd Symphony

Festival orchestra (led by Clio Gould), Elena Urioste & Orlando Jopling

Sun 4 Oct 4pm Stoke by N New commissions + Grieg, Copland, Vaughan Williams and Parry

Festival choir, side-by-side orchestra, festival orchestra, 3 primary schools & Elena Urioste

Thank you for making this amazing festival of music possible around Colchester. What I love about the festival is the high quality of music, the variety of venues, the personal atmosphere, the little surprises. I feel thoroughly refreshed and ready for the Autumn term, fortified with plenty of beautiful music with delightful surprises in occasionally unusual and always congenial surroundings. Audience member, 2015