Tavistock Festival 2022

Successful Festival looks forward to its Grand Finale

Tavistock’s 2022 Festival has been an immense success. Whereas Covid related pressures resulted in the cancellation of the opening concert by the Mount Kelly Choral Society, a successful workshop day did take place at the College. Dr Sean Sweeney, Festival Chairman, gave a rousing organ recital at the Parish Church of St Eustachius, including Elgar’s famous Nimrod as a moment of reflection for all those in the world troubled by war, violence, illness and famine. On a happier note, Mount Kelly Chamber Choir and Levowan XII provided a high calibre concert of choral music in the recently refurbished and beautiful surroundings of the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Mary Magdalene. The singers and large audience were made very welcome by the Parish Priest, Fr Cyracius and his team.

The Festival momentum gathered and the following day Angela Rippon CBE compèred a fabulous 25th Anniversary Concert by the Stannary Brass Band. Former players joined the ensemble to display great talent and the large audience responded with enthusiastic applause. Much merriment was evident in the exchanges between Miss Rippon and Musical Director Peter Jones but both held their ground through to the end at which point a presentation was made to Mr Jones by Band Chairman Steve Gray in recognition of his twenty years’ service.

On Sunday a small and dedicated group of choristers enjoyed a stimulating and informative singing workshop, accompanied by Parish Director of Music Scott Angell and on the Monday the Haizea Quintet, students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, gave the first public concert in the newly opened Guildhall. Inevitably, there were amusing comments about performing in a court but the playing was exceptional and it is hoped that this excellent concert venue will be used more frequently from now on.

Sixty children from Horrabridge Primary School were welcomed to Tavistock Library the next day for a flag making workshop and a short concert at Tavistock Methodist Church. On the Wednesday Helen Porter performed her new solo show at the wonderful Steinway Grand Piano in the Parish Church. Helen is a fabulous performer and her audience marvelled as the programme moved effortlessly through her own attractive and thought-provoking songs to those numbers by Richard Rogers, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael and Jerome Kern. We hope to host Helen’s Big Jazz Choir in a future Festival.

Nina Savicevic, of Serbo-Croatian descent and a young student pianist at the Royal Northern College of Music, wowed the audience with demanding works by Beethoven, Debussy and Liszt. In the forty-five minute lunchtime programme the changing moods were evident in a dynamic four movement Pastorale by Beethoven to the sounds of flowing water in the Debussy and a virtuosic tour de force in the Liszt, all of which displayed the soloist’s outstanding technique. On the same day, as the sun set, the Wheelhouse Folk Choir met in Tavistock Library for the first outing of their Summer Set. The choir was delighted to receive a very warm welcome from an appreciative audience. Their singing was brilliant and demonstrated the immense amount of work needed to perform from memory in public! Details about future events are on their facebook page. At this event, and throughout the Festival, the Drawn to the Valley Art Exhibition, workshops and other activities at Tavistock Library have stimulated much interest and long may it continue. The Bedford Hotel hosted a Jazz Tea on the final Sunday and Chris and Sue Willis, otherwise known as Fine Whines enthralled the tea takers with many well known classics.

A piano duet recital was performed by Stella Searson and Sarah Rowe but the long awaited Festival Finale on Saturday featured the North Devon Sinfonia, an eighty-five piece symphony orchestra that played to a capacity audience in Tavistock a few years ago. Music by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov will thrill the audience and tickets priced £10, with free access for children, will be available on the door and online.

This concert was sponsored by Miller Town and Country and we are extremely grateful to our other generous sponsors – Alistair Kinsey Hearing and Impairment, Hansford Bell Financial Planners, Links Magazines and Tavistock and District Chamber of Commerce. Without this financial support the Festival would not be possible and it would not be possible to subsidise ticket prices.

Ukrainian visitors welcomed to fabulous Festival Finale

Following the success of Tavistock’s Festival 2022 the final concert was a remarkable tribute to all those caught up in the terrible atrocities in Ukraine. The North Devon Sinfonia, under the husband and wife team of conductor and soloist, Dominic and Kate Carter, thrilled fourteen Ukrainian visitors and a large audience to the concert. The evening began with the Ukrainian national anthem followed by Finlandia, written by Jean Sibelius at a time when Finland was under Russian control. The work is redolent of national pride and the rousing opening bars shook the beautiful St Eustachius Parish Church. Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony is perhaps less well known, written when Tchaikovsky was staying with his sister and her husband in Ukraine; it has many Ukrainian folk tunes interwoven into it and the orchestra brought out all the different moods and colours of the extensive symphony.

After the interval, during which members of the audience were able to meet our Ukrainian guests, the North Devon Sinfonia performed the popular Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. The stories – the Arabian Nights – were beautifully presented by the orchestra with stunning violin solos by Kate Carter. As one person commented “after the weary months of lockdowns it was a treat and a tonic to have music of this quality in Tavistock again”. Plans for Tavistock Festival 2023 are already underway. Please visit the website for further details.

The Tavistock Festival 2022 has attempted to expand its performance venues and its event programme. Supporting up and coming young professional musicians and providing for young people has been a priority but we are also committed to including as wide a range of musical and arts events as possible, both from local groups and beyond. Dr Sweeney, Festival Chairman, is immensely grateful to his committee – Helena Ancil, Rebecca Garland, Jan Horrell, Julian Jensen, Christopher Kirwin, Anne Payne, Tim Randell and Rosemary Turner. We would also be very grateful to hear from anybody who could offer support to strengthen the planning and delivery of future Festivals, in time or money!

Dr Sean Sweeney – Chairman

07732 586 978