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There is a spirit in St Endellion Church, on which we all feed. The place is a magnet for many of us as well as a refuge. The festival concerts are unique in blending professional and amateur yet the place seems to raise us to musical heights we find difficult to repeat anywhere else. (Richard Hickox, CBE (1948-2008))

The two St Endellion music festivals have had several conductors associated with them throughout their history but none more distinguished, or more closely identified with them than the late Richard Hickox CBE (1948-2008). Richard first came to the Summer Festival when still an organ scholar at Queen’s College Cambridge. By the mid 1970s he was sharing conducting honours with Roger Gaunt and in 1974  he and his second wife, Fran, founded the sister Easter festival and from then until his death in November 2008, he was Artistic Director of both.  He occasionally had to miss a concert in order to conduct a Prom, and in recent years his commitments as Artistic Director of Opera Australia obliged him to hand over the baton of the Easter Festival to James Burton, but nonetheless he clocked up an astonishing number of St Endellion festivals

A casual observer early on in his career would have assumed that the festivals were no more than a testing ground, a charming eccentricity he would surely give up once more important engagements were on offer. Those lucky enough to work with him at St Endellion, however, saw at once that our unglamorous, unsubsidised, and barely publicised concerts in an out-of-the-way Cornish church were deeply important to him both spiritually and artistically.  

Richard was proud that, with a cottage only yards from the church’s door, he had become a St Endellion parishioner while the rest of us remained mere tourists. Now that he has been laid to rest in St Endellion’s churchyard, it will be no surprise to find him as closely identified with the church in the future as that other champion of vanishing English culture, Sir John Betjeman, has become with nearby St Enodoc.

  Richard Hicox