The Saint Endellion Summer Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008. It began life when a musical priest, Roger Gaunt, was inspired to invite a group of college friends down to help him renovate St Endellion’s derelict rectory – actually one of the last surviving prebendal houses in England. Slowly it grew and evolved from a group of friends putting on small scale concerts and an annual play to include an orchestra and a chorus. And from the ranks of its enthusiastic participants emerged a young Cambridge graduate and organist called Richard Hickox who took over from Roger Gaunt as Artistic Director in the mid Seventies, when he also instituted a sister festival at Easter.
The summer festival now fields a symphony orchestra and a chorus of seventy-
The Easter festival has grown no less and is still chaired by its co-
Both festivals offset their larger scale concerts with evenings of chamber music, and have proved the meeting place for regular musical partnerships, most notably the Endellion String Quartet. Late night concerts often feature something a little different; evenings of late night jazz, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends.
The festivals pride themselves on giving young talent an early platform, albeit not always doing the thing that will bring fame. A young Roger Norrington was a tenor soloist in Britten’s Cantata Misericordia in the Gaunt years, and the late Philip Langridge, Aschenbach in 2009’s opera, Death in Venice, made his first visit as an orchestral violinist. James Gilchrist first appeared at the Festival playing the cello in the orchestra, and summer festival artistic director Mark Padmore was once a member of the Festival chorus.
Another feature of the festivals is their close working relationship with the host parish, encapsulated in the way each festival is launched with a service of choral evensong. In previous years they were frequently enhanced with a small string band -