• Sheku Kanneh-Mason opens the Festival on 12 May playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner.
• Festival commissions a new work by Hannah Kendall for the opening concert.
• Alina Ibragimova and Cedric Tiberghien give a recital at Englefield House on 15 May with a programme of Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven Violin Sonatas.
• Soloists Elizabeth Watts, Rozanna Madylus, James Way and James Newby join the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Newbury Spring Festival Chorus and Stephen Barlow for a performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor to close the Festival on 26 May.
Over the last 40 years the Newbury Spring Festival has become one of the most popular and successful music festivals in the South of England providing live music accessible to all. It returns for its 40th anniversary with two weeks of world-class classical music, musical theatre, folk, jazz and cabaret, featuring artists from around the world.
Embracing some of West Berkshire’s stunning locations the concerts are held at venues in and around Newbury. The festival opens at St Nicolas Church with a newly commissioned work by young composer Hannah Kendall, followed by a performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Shekku Kanneh-Mason and the Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of Edward Gardner. Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stephen Barlow will close the Festival with soloists Elizabeth Watts, Rozanna Madylus, James Way and James Newby.
The Festival continues with its tradition of presenting great choral music with a performance by Solomon’s Knot of Bach’s Mass in B Minor at Holy Cross Church in Ramsbury, and in celebration of the Festival’s 40th anniversary Ex Cathedra returns to Douai Abbey with a programme of 40-part music from both Elizabethan Ages. The great British pianist John Lill returns with Flanders Symphony Orchestra under Jan Latham Koenig, making their festival debuts.
Other distinguished newcomers to the Festival are violin piano partnership of Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien who will perform at Englefield House while Highclere Castle welcomes two former festival young artists, cellist Guy Johnston and pianist Tom Poster. The traditional cabaret evening at picturesque Combe Manor celebrates the centenary of Leonard Bernstein with music theatre gurus Edward Seckerson and Jason Carr and West End leading lady Sophie-Louise Dann. Two legends of opera and musical theatre, Sir John Tomlinson and Claude-Michel Schonberg both appear in rare interviews and Sir John performs a new work Kokoscha’s Doll, written for him with the ensemble Counterpoise.
A daily programme of events designed to appeal to all ages will be held at the Corn Exchange in the centre of Newbury ranging from musical theatre and ballet to jazz, cabaret and world music. Michael Law’s Piccadilly Dance Orchestra, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, Ballet Central, Yolanda Brown, Clare Teal and Joe Stilgoe all make a welcome return. One of Britain’s leading pianists Llyr Williams gives an afternoon recital and there are two shows specifically for children and families.
The Festival continues to support young and talented artists with its Young Artist’s Lunchtime concert series. One such artist Benjamin Cunningham who last year gave an organ recital returns to the Festival this year as newly appointed Chorus Master of the Newbury Festival Chorus. He will also direct the young chamber choir Sansara in an all English programme at St Martin’s Church East Woodhay.
Returning to Newbury for the second week of the festival are the Tibetan Monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery who will be in residence at Newbury’s West Berkshire Museum hosting workshops and creating a Healing Sand Mandala.