Saturday, 08 May 2021

Festival chief hoping music fans will come and explore

Festival chief hoping music fans will come and explore

THE creative director of the Chiltern Arts festival is inviting classical music fans to make a day of it when this year’s event gets under way next month.

Running from May 21 to 27, the festival will take the form of six concerts at venues spread throughout the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

These include St Mary’s Church in Henley on Tuesday, May 25, when the Echo Vocal Ensemble will perform a new work of music theatre titled “Listening to Lassus”.

On Monday, May 24, the Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will play Bach’s Goldberg Variations at All Saints’ Church in Marlow.

The other four concerts are taking place in Berkhamsted, Great Missenden, Old Amersham and Princes Risborough.

Creative director Naomi Taylor hopes audiences will take the chance to visit parts of the Chilterns they may not have explored before.

She said: “That’s part of what we say we’re trying to do, really — local tourism. I think it’s a really important thing, encouraging people to discover things that are within shouting distance of where they live and giving them a reason to go to those areas.

“I live in Berkhamsted, which is a good 45 minutes to an hour away from Henley, and it’s sort of a novelty to say, oh, actually, you know what, we could go and spend the day in Henley as a tourist and just do those things you would do if you were coming from a bit further afield.

“People often don’t look that close to home and hopefully as we become a bit more established — this will be our fourth festival — it’s the sort of thing we hope may encourage people to do a little bit of that local tourism, boosting the local economy.

“Especially in the the current times when we’re encouraged not to travel too far out of our local areas, it’s quite a nice opportunity to do that as a reason to go to those places. And by the time of our festival you’ll be able to eat in restaurants and go to the other things you can see in those areas.”

With the next major stage of the Government’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown set to take effect on Monday, May 17, Chiltern Arts will be one of the first festivals to take place when live events are able to resume.

This year’s programme was originally due to have been staged last year before being postponed to the end of February and then to next months’ dates.

Naomi said: “We try to have a theme of the festival every year and this year’s theme is musical resonance. And although the idea was born, obviously, a long time before the pandemic started, I feel that it’s become rather more poignant.

“I think a lot of us have turned to music over these past months and perhaps music that’s comforting to us for whatever reason — and the idea is that the theme of the festival just shows how many different ways music can have an impact on people’s lives and resonate with them, either on a personal level or in a way that reminds them of a significant event.

“It can tell a story and I think that’s the idea, really — just to demonstrate the power of music.

“Not that many people come to all six of our concerts, but the idea would be that you would sort of go on that journey to discover all of those different ways that music can have an impact on people and tell a story and resonate.”

With just six events and a young artists contest, Naomi admitted this year’s festival is smaller than she and her colleagues would otherwise have liked to put on, but she said plans are in place for an expanded offering next year.

“We’ve been fully aware all the way through that these concerts may or may not happen,” she said.

“We just wanted to be able to give people something but also not carry that enormous risk of losing 10 or 15 events and the associated costs with those.

“It’s really important to us that we’re keeping the quality of music that we’re known for and putting on these really world-class high quality events.

“And we want you to come to these concerts, we want to give you that live music experience, but it’s going to be a little bit less than it normally is this year.”

For more information on this year’s Chiltern Arts festival programme and to book tickets, visit www.chilternarts.com

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