A huge thank you to our wonderful audiences, performers, supporters and hosts for our best year ever. We have many beautiful memories of packed out houses, pin-drop silences, breathtaking virtuosity and musicianship, new discoveries of repertoire and young talent, and our audiences’ amazing responses and appreciation.
What happened …..
Two sold-out Mercury concerts, an intimate Summer Festival, and three weekends packed with energising folk-inspired music and drama during the Autumn Festival.
The first weekend brought some of the world’s leading classical musicians to play chamber music idyllic country churches in Essex’s beautiful and hidden countryside. The second weekend celebrated Colchester’s unusual and charismatic venues with theatre, dance, installations, immersive experiences, concerts and exhibitions, and the third offered rare orchestral masterpieces and our first ever Mahler Symphony with a stunning orchestra hand-picked from the world’s best orchestras, in the dramatic setting and breathtaking acoustic of the wonderful Stoke-by-Nayland Church.
We brought a theatrical dramatisation of the life of 16th-century composer Carlo Gesualdo, brand new choreography and a string quartet performed from memory in darkness. There were walks, family concerts, a day out singing sea shanties on a Maldon barge, a beer festival, talks and exhibitions, a hair-raising Bartók ballet set in a brothel and an epic Mahler symphony.
We heard new music by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Steve Reich, seven local composers, Tom Adès, Gwilym Simcock, Jonathan Dove, Elvis Costello, Chris Woods, David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon among others, and forgotten 400-year-old choral gems by Praetorius, Gesualdo and Schein, as well as everything else in between.
International stars Tim Hugh, Nicola Benedetti, James Gilchrist and Bellowhead’s Jon Boden all appeared at the Festival, and our musicians gave recitals in schools and took part in several other projects culminating on the final Sunday when schools, choirs, the Colne Valley Youth Orchestra, local brass bands and top pros combined for a joyous finale. Roman River musicians worked in 8 primary schools, introducing the music and themes of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf ahead of a performance to 900 pupils at the Mercury Theatre.