Some of the world’s greatest musicians are set to perform in Newbury and surrounding area between 6 - 20 May 2023 for the return of the Newbury Spring Festival.
This year’s Festival will run from Saturday 6 May to Saturday 20 May, promising a 'glorious fortnight of world-class music' in Newbury and the surrounding area.
The King’s Coronation coincides with the opening of this year’s Festival, and organisers say it will be a particularly special celebratory start, with a free live broadcast of the service at St Nicolas Church , Newbury (6 May).
Opening the festival’s musical proceedings will be superstar saxophonist Jess Gillam and her band, who are sure to be in party mood at the Corn Exchange (6 May). The celebrations continue into Sunday with Newbury Festival Chorus in Rossini’s joyful Petite Messe Solennelle with a line-up of world-class soloists headed by soprano Lucy Crowe (7 May).
Lucy Crowe returns a week later to St Mary’s Shaw in an all-Strauss recital (14 May). Other vocal and choral highlights from the Festival include The Tallis Scholars’ 50th Anniversary concert at Douai Abbey (12 May) and SANSARA’s performance at Highclere, curated to celebrate the Castle’s four garden follies (15 May). Englefield House, the festival’s other stately home venue, will be the setting for Tama Matheson’s musical play about Lord Byron (10 May) and for Hugo Vickers’ talk After the Coronation (11 May).
Organisers say the Festival continues to present many young artists at the start of their careers - in addition to the Young Artists Recital Series (six lunchtime concerts featuring some of the best up-and-coming musicians), the annual Sheepdrove Piano Competition (14 May), and the return of Ballet Central to the Corn Exchange (16 May), the Festival will also play host to Tom Featherstonehaugh and his Fantasia Orchestra for some nocturnal magic at St Lawrence’s Hungerford (19 May), plus young horn star Ben Goldscheider and his trio at Bughclere (17 May).
The average age of performers is said to be younger than ever this year thanks to the showcase of local student musicians curated by Hogan Music for an evening at the Corn Exchange (10 May), the girls of Downe House School for the free Festival Evensong (13 May), and the students of Razzamataz Theatre School who will give a free showcase performance at Parkway Shopping Centre (13 May).
Family-friendly events remain an important part of the Festival, this year’s Sound Beginnings concert - said to be suitable for anyone young at heart - will introduce Mozart’s The Magic Flute in an accessible way (7 May).
Later on, a musical reading of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Monkey Puzzle will aim to get children and their families moving and dancing to the sonic depictions of the animals they will encounter (20 May).
Home-grown talent will be showcased too - alongside the many Newbury young performers involved in showcases, local professional composer, Florence Anne Maunders will be writing a brand new piece of music for Wantage Band, the award-winning championship section band based just north of Newbury (18 May).
Newbury Spring Festival will celebrate Rachmaninov’s 150th anniversary this year with performances by Steven Osborne (7 May), Barry Douglas and the Estonian Symphony Orchestra (13 May), Mikhail Kazakevich (7 May), Maciej Kulakowski (17 May), and as the featured composer of the 2023 Sheepdrove Piano Competition (14 May).
It has also offered the ideal opportunity to present a screening of David Lean’s classic film Brief Encounter, whose score brought Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto to national attention and made it the most popular concerto of its time (17 May).
Mark Eynon, Festival Director, said: “Despite the financial challenges and alarming rates of inflation affecting the country I am proud to say that most ticket prices have been maintained at 2022 levels, and in some cases even reduced, to try and make attending the Festival possible for everyone. We’re also very pleased to welcome Viking as festival-wide supporters this year alongside our existing principal event sponsor Greenham Trust.
“We are grateful to all our Sponsors, to the Festival Friends, to our loyal army of volunteers and to you, our audiences, for your continuing support of Newbury Spring Festival, to which I welcome you back for what I know will be another memorable fortnight of great music.”
More information about the Spring Festival, and tickets are available at https://www.newburyspringfestival.org.uk/
Members of the public can also call 01635 522733 or cisit the Corn Exchange, Market Place, in Newbury (RG14 5BD).
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