Artistic Director, James Barralet, writes: click here for a message from Honorary Patron Steven Isserlis
There are few composers as unpretentious as Felix Mendelssohn.
Without being stifled by tradition and without ever trying to be clever, revolutionary, or egotistical, his music bursts with a raw natural energy and honesty – and emotions ranging from ecstatic joy to the darkest sorrow.
He was highly precocious – the ease with which notes flowed from his quill at a staggeringly youthful age has been compared with Mozart. Both composers share a gift for their craft which transcends theory and technique and becomes a thing entirely of nature.
Despite his obvious gifts, Mendelssohn has never enjoyed the reputation his music deserves. This is certainly in no small part due to the anti-semitic rants of Wagner. And perhaps ‘analysts’ have been disappointed by Mendelssohn’s lack of academic harmonic complexity. But for me, that is not the purpose of music. The purpose of music is to create a living soul which touches and inspires awe in those who witness it, and there are few composers whose music lives so tangibly as Mendelssohn’s.
Even experienced musicians often find themselves surprised at just how good his music is, which is in itself surprising, and indicative of the need for Mendelssohn’s reputation to be rescued! I hope this festival goes a small way in doing that!
There will be a concert devoted to Felix’s beloved sister, Fanny, who herself was a profoundly gifted composer. It is fitting that, in this time when it is still felt that creative women need empowering and even justifying, we are able to prove the creative prowess of a wonderful composer who happens to be female in gender.
Our church venue
I strongly believe that the environment in which music exists is of great importance to the experience. Those who are sensitive to their surroundings will find that it affects the atmosphere that the music can create and your own personal ability to be transported so that you exist in the world of the music.
So many modern concert halls, indeed so many modern buildings in general, are so cold and devoid of soul and atmosphere, seemingly aspiring to nothing more than impressiveness. We are so lucky to be able to enjoy this music in the venue we have, surrounded by beautiful natural wood, suitably unpretentious, and bathed in an acoustic which is truly a gift, beyond that which could have been designed or planned for.
For our Mendelssohn festival in 2015, we will be rejoined by several of the musicians who took part in the 2013 Brahms festival. As you will read from their biographies, they are all internationally renowned musicians who share a degree of idealism and will be coming to Whittington from England, Holland, Germany, Serbia, Russia, the US and Australia.
I wish you a memorable experience!
James Barralet, Artistic Director