Planning a second festival is very different from planning one’s first. Two years ago I was on probation with the Festival Committee: my foibles were generously tolerated and my inexperience was readily forgiven. I was nudged gently in the right direction and – due partly to the effectiveness of the people around me, but also because of my immediate fondness for Mayfield – I found myself taking part in one of the most exciting events I had ever witnessed. Interestingly, when I thought about it carefully some months later, I realized that the reason it had been so thoroughly enjoyable was that it wasn’t so much a Festival of Music & Arts as a Festival of People. And this was nowhere more manifest than in the opening and closing concerts: things kicked off with the young instrumentalists of Southbank Sinfonia playing with all the maturity of seasoned professionals, and ended with the Festival Choir singing with the gusto of people half their age. A Festival of People indeed.
The major innovation in 2016 is Mayfield’s adoption of the Tunbridge Wells International Young Concert Artists Competition. The heats will run over three days and will culminate in the Final on the middle Sunday of the Festival. It’s customary to gripe about falling standards in education and how the arts are going to the dogs. But I can assure you that where standards in classical music are concerned, youth is where it’s at. I can promise you a kaleidoscope of young talent in this competition. And I can confidently predict that the winner will become well known in the music world. You will have heard him or her first at the Mayfield Festival.
The winner has lots of concert opportunities including performing a concerto at the 2018 Mayfield Festival.
In 2016 we start where we left off in 2014 – with Mozart. The curtain raiser is the motet Exsultate jubilate, a beguiling and ultimately virtuosic concert work for Soprano and Orchestra. Thereafter the Festival will present choral music, orchestral music, chamber music, liturgical music, folk music, film music, and pottery (I’m from Stoke-on-Trent – we love ceramics). And the Festival will end in a blaze of Beethovenian glory with the ‘Choral’ Symphony. How are we going to fit Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony into St Dunstan’s? You might want to book your seats well in advance – there’s not going to be much spare room in church.
Welcome to Mayfield 2016 – an Ode to Joy.
Festival Artistic Director