Festival serves up a feast of classics and chorals

Brinkburn Music Festival,  Henning Kraggerud.
Brinkburn Music Festival, Henning Kraggerud.

BRINKBURN Music Festival returns this summer to bring a feast of wonderful classical and choral music to be played and sung by world-renowned artistes in the beautiful 12th century priory near Rothbury.

Now in its 19th year, the festival hopes to attract music lovers from all over the region and beyond with a fascinating and enticing programme, which includes Eugène Ysaÿe’s Six Sonatas for solo violin, an evening of choral masterpieces reflecting all the colour of the Tudor era and Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Opening the weekend festival on Friday, July 6 at 7.30pm, is one of world’s leading violinists, Norwegian-born Henning Kraggerud. In demand worldwide, he is described as one of the most interesting and accomplished soloists and will perform the complete unaccompanied Violin Sonatas by Ysaÿe – widely recognised as among the great masterpieces of the violin repertoire.

This concert will be followed on Saturday, July 7 at 7pm by Stile Antico, an ensemble of young British singers, now established as one of the most original and exciting in their field. They will be performing a captivating programme of Tudor anthems by composers including William Byrd, John Taverner, Thomas Tallis and Robert White.

The final day of the festival on Sunday, July 8, starts at noon with a 45-minute recital showcasing the talents of flautist Katy Bircher. Principal flautist with the Gabrieli Players and recognised specialist of early flutes, Katy promises to delight audiences with a programme featuring Bach and Telemann.

The day continues at 2pm with festival favourites, The Gabrieli Consort & Players, taking to the stage to raise the roof with Bach’s St Matthew Passion prior to the festival drawing to a close at 7pm with Choral Evensong.

Paul McCreesh, artistic director of the festival, talking at the launch event held recently at Barter Books, Alnwick, said:

“Brinkburn continues to attract some of the world’s best artistes and this year we’re delighted to welcome two newcomers to the festival – the exciting and charismatic Henning Kraggerud, with whom I have had the pleasure of working many times; and Stile Antico, whose recordings on Harmonia Mundi have been widely acclaimed. Both performances will be truly amazing and I urge people not to miss either of them.

“I’m also thrilled to be bringing Bach’s great Passion as it was performed in his day, with the vocal music being given over to eight or nine soloists, which restores a chamber-music intimacy to this vast and sublime work.

“I know all these concerts will sound fantastic in the near-perfect acoustic of Brinkburn Priory and look forward to sharing them with you on what, hopefully, will be warm, sunny July days.”

Richard Maudslay, chairman of Brinkburn Music said: “It has been a challenging year with funding for the festival still very tight, however, we have got wonderful supporters and donors who are all very determined to ensure Brinkburn not only survives but continues to thrive. We have much to look forward to this year and for next year, our 20th anniversary, plans are already underway to extend the festival over two weekends again so we can deliver the exciting and ambitious programme we have in the pipeline.”

This year’s festival will also feature a variety of food and refreshment options once again, such as the ever popular picnic hampers from Grannies of Alnwick and the Brinkburn Bistro within the Manor House. Booking is essential for both and further details, menus and opening times will all be available on the Brinkburn Festival website from April 24 or from the box office.