Excellent performances at Romsey Chamber Music

Excellent performances at Romsey Chamber Music Festival

The brainchild of dynamic curator local violinist Laura Rickard, aided by a team of dedicated helpers, the Romsey Chamber Music Festival has become an established event for music-lovers in the area and beyond. 

It began with `cellist Rainer Crosett performing Bach and Britten by the Test at Houghton Lodge Gardens, and continued in the same enterprising vein throughout the six-day series of concerts and related events.

The festival is also important in encouraging the next generation of local gifted musicians, who are able to attend workshops led by members of Laura`s team of enthusiastic fellow performers. The lucky youngsters were able to feature in Tuesday`s lunchtime concert at Romsey Abbey. They joined their talented mentors in performances of familiar music by Tchaikovsky plus a movement from a Suite by Janacek in front of an enthusiastic audience.

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Romsey Chamber Music Festival (Image: Philip Clewer)

Many of the other events took place in the United Reformed Church, and all were characterised by features that are now staple to the ethos of the festival. The standard of performance never fell below the excellent, thanks to Laura`s assembled group of internationally recognised virtuoso musicians, playing a variety of instruments. The music itself was, as always, highly eclectic; this year there was more than a nod to pieces inspired by the plays of Shakespeare. Favourite works by, among others, Beethoven and Schubert, were juxtaposed with much less familiar fare, including recently composed pieces by Charlotte Bray and Mark Simpson, that were introduced by the performers in a friendly and extremely informative manner. This meant their places within the context of each concert could be clearly appreciated by audiences – a feature that should be adopted by organisers of other such events.

The inclusivity that is always a feature of the festival was obvious throughout, as interaction with the audiences was never far from the surface. 

Finally, it is always invidious to single out one artist in such a series, but mention must be made of English viola player Joseph Griffin, who managed to join in performances of some highly challenging pieces with such commitment and technical excellence that one would never have guessed his presence was the result of the sudden indisposition of one of the other musicians. 

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