46th Easter Festival
13 April - 21 April 2019
So the 46th Easter Festival has come and gone and we are all feeling that exhilarating mix of elation, exhaustion, cloud-9-ness that you get after a really special concert - only this applies to the whole festival. There seems to be a consensus among audience and participants that this was a one of the very good ones. It is an interesting challenge to try to bottle the special ingredients of a successful festival; perhaps more difficult than identifying what went wrong in a less successful one. Maybe one of the ingredients was provided by our having to manage without the hall; it meant that people had to work extra hard to make sure that the chorus and orchestra were talking to each other. But it also generated an even stronger sense of looking out for one another than usual: lifts to St Kew Primary School for chorus rehearsals, help with the different coffee arrangements, a greater willingness to take part in the various social events. No question though; we missed the milling together at morning coffee time – it is an important part of the fabric of the festivals.
Another of the ingredients was undoubtedly Oliver Tarney’s St Mark Passion. To be working together on a world première piece, that was full of wonderful music, drama and intense spirituality, gave the festival a different kind of focus. Throw in the fact that it was composed by one of the Easter Festival’s own, that it was conducted by Adam Hickox who has picked up his father’s baton so perfectly, that it introduced us to some wonderful soloists and a new chorus master, Harry Bradford, who complemented Fanny Cooke so well, and that Donna Stirrup added an element of theatricality which lifted the Good Friday performance to even greater heights, and you can begin to see (and hear) why this was one of those special St Endellion nights.
Suzanne Doyle and Katy Thomson had assembled one of the best orchestras and one of the best choruses that we have had at the Easter Festival. This meant that almost every concert left the audience spell-bound. The combination of Shostakovich’s 9th symphony and Mozart’s C minor Mass – with stunning playing and singing under the very different but totally musical conducting of Adam and David Watkin – will take some beating, served up as they were with Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 for starters. Mozart’s 13-part Gran Partita for Winds, performed with Mendelssohn’s Octet, with a magical performance of Debussy’s Syrinx to add piquancy to the mix was another amazement. And this was followed by a late-night Beethoven recital by Viv McClean which made that quite a Tuesday. It is unfair really not to mention every concert - look at the Festival programme which you can download elsewhere on the website. Everything was played exquisitely.
So it was socially, emotionally, musically and spiritually an extraordinary Festival - hugely enjoyed and appreciated by audience and participants alike. The weather swung from an awkward start of wind and cold to a sublime clarity of sky and sun and certainly helped. The food was good, the logistics worked, none of the little emergencies grew into bigger ones.
There is something about St Endellion which brings out the best in us. The musicians, the audience, the support teams - each and every one worked hard and gave to the limits of their talents and abilities. Wow!
This was my last Festival as Chairman. I am very happy to be able to pass the leadership of the Easter Festival to Katy Thomson and Suzanne Doyle. Fran Hickox and I will still be supporting them on the committee, but it is exciting to pass the baton to the next generation and to secure the continuity of this wonderful Festival into the future.