THIRTY–THREE YEARS OF MAKING MUSIC IN AMERSHAM
St. Mary's Church
The first Amersham Festival of Music was in April 1983 and ran for just over a week, featuring an orchestral concert by the Thames Chamber Orchestra, Handel's magnificent oratorio Saul performed by the South Bucks Choral Society, a memorable harpsichord recital by Virginia Black at Chenies Manor House, a choral concert by the Chamber Choir of Dr Challoner's Grammar School, a recital of Lieder and English Song by soprano Alison Hargan, an evening with the Light Blues - a brilliant ensemble of former Oxbridge choral scholars and a Choral Evensong in St Mary's Church. Our aim in starting the Festival was to promote music-making of the highest professional quality in the local area, using some of the very attractive local venues available to us. From the outset we were warmly supported by local music lovers, audiences were excellent in the first year, and we were fortunate to find a number of generous sponsors, without whose assistance such a festival would never have been possible.
Thirty years later our annual Festival spans a period of three or more weeks and we also promote an autumn-winter season of concerts by our own Festival Chamber Orchestra. These past twenty years have seen a substantial development in terms of the scope and size of our musical endeavours, happily coinciding with an increasing level of sponsorship from many local companies and individuals and the enthusiastic support of our local audience. Perhaps the most exciting and bold development in recent years has been a series of performances of operas, either in concert performances or in staged or semi-staged productions. Here are some of the highlights of past years:
1983 Handel's Saul with the Thames Chamber Orchestra and also the first Festival event at Chenies Manor House
1984 Instant Sunshine's first visit
1985 St Matthew Passion and Young Artists' concert began
1986 Anthony Hopkins appears. Richard Baker as Sir Arthur Sullivan
1987 Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra formed and Elijah performed by the South Bucks Choral Society
1988 Richard Stilgoe appears and John Amis in a miscellany
1989 Leland Chen plays concertos by Mozart and Haydn. Haydn's The Seasons performed
1990 First Children's Concert. Caroline Dale played Saint-Saens 'cello concerto. St Cecilia Mass, Gounod. First concert at Latimer House
1991 First opera, The Magic Flute, concert performance in St Mary's Church. South Bucks Choral Society performs Mozart's Requiem. Marion Montgomery performs A Night with the Gershwins
1992 Verdi's Requiem performed at Eton College Chapel
1993 The Bucks County Youth Orchestra including Sibelius' Symphony and Variations on a Rococo Theme. Mark Wildman performed Schubert's Winterreise. Pasadena Roof Orchestra. Orfeo and Euridice with the South Bucks Choral Society
1994 Palladian Ensemble. Stilgoe and Skellern at The Swan, High Wycombe. Alexander Ardakov gives a piano recital. The South Bucks Choral Society performs Handel's Samson. Handel's Semele at West Wycombe
1995 Purcell's Dido and Aeneas performed at West Wycombe with Rachel Fisher. Finzi Singers with Paul Spicer. David Campbell performs Finzi's Clarinet Concerto. Elgar's Dream of Gerontius performed at Eton College
1996 Concert performance of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at Eton College
1997 The Barber of Seville is semi-staged at Eton College
1998 Valerie Masterson masterclass. Eroica Quartet. Idomeneo is semi-staged at Eton College
1999 Viennese Evening. Jonathan Hinden talks on Verdi's La Traviata. Duruflé's Requiem at Eton College. Julian Jacobson performs Poulenc's Aubade and Chopin's Second Piano Concerto.
2000 Millennium Concert at Eton with Leland Chen. Cosi Fan Tutte fully-staged at St Clement Danes School. Delme String Quartet
2001 Jonathan Veira. Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto with Daniel Thomas. Jordan Junior Strings. Mendelssohn's Elijah
2002 (20th anniversary year) Mozart's Marriage of Figaro fully staged by Royal Academy Opera with Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra. Verdi's Requiem in Eton School Hall. Piano Duets at Chenies performed by John Streets and Christopher Glynn also Masterclass for Singers with distinguished coach John Streets
2003 Schumann Piano Concerto with Alexander Ardakov and Beethoven's 7th Symphony. The Dream of Gerontius at Eton. Pavao String Quartet at Chenies. Chiltern Youth Chamber Orchestra in St Mary's. A Tribute to Benny Goodman at Merritts jaguar Showroom
2004 Dvorak Cello Concerto with Caroline Dale. Schubert's 9th Symphony. Amersham Chamber Orchestra in Eton Scholl Hall. Jazz Cabaret with Domenic Alldiss. "The Hitler Emigres" a lecture by Daniel Snowman. Brahms Requiem and Schubert's 8th Symphony
2005 Grieg Piano Concerto with Philip Fowke and Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra at Eton. Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra perform Baroque Masterpieces in St Mary's. A Masterclass for Young String Quartets with Peter Hanson. The Bronte String Quartet perform Mozart, Haydn and Brahms. South Bucks Choral Society's 25th anniversary Concert. Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise and Mozart's mass in C minor Performed by Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra and Soloists in Eton School Hall
2006 Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (soloists Richard Wainwright and Hirohisa Tsuji). Study Day on Chopin with Roy Howat. SBCS performed Haydn’s “The Seasons” The Abbott O'Gorman Duo performed music for pian duet
2007 (25th Anniversary Season) Mozart's Don Giovanni (fully staged production directed by John Ramster). Dominic Alldis Ensemble - music from French cinema. The Musicke Companye - A Venetian Carnival. Amersham Festival Chamber Ensemble - Elgar’s Piano Quintet
2008 Bach’s Mass in B minor performed with choir and soloists from The Royal Academy of Music. Flute masterclass with Jennifer Stinton. SBCS performed Handel’s “Samson”. AFCO performed Schubert's Trout Quintet. Study Day on Rimsky-Korsakov with Marina Frolova-Walker
2009 Staged performance of Handel’s “Semele” with the Festival Chamber Orchestra, soloists and South Bucks Choral Society. Orchestral concert with Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto (soloist Huw Morgan) and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony. Study Day on Handel with Peter Medhurst. The Great American Songbook - Dominic Alldis
2010 Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. London Chamber Strings played Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Barber. Study Day with Dr Kris Worsley on Beethoven. Ana Schwedhelm in Cabaret
2011 St Matthew Passion, J S Bach. Opera masterclass with John Copley. Songs from the Shows (singers from the Royal Academy of Music). Beethoven Violin Concerto and Mendelssohn Italian Symphony (Leland Chen)
2012 The Marriage of Figaro. Harry The Piano. Recorder masterclass with Philip Thorby. Joglaresa. Elijah. Charlotte Barbour-Condini. Duo Alfageme.
2013 Paul Lewis. Verdi Requiem. Opera masterclass with John Copley. Jonathan Veira. Chilton Youth Chamber Orchestra. Bjorn Bantock with London Chamber Strings. Rachel Fisher.
2014 Jacqui Dankworth, A Sea Symphony, Peter Medhurst, Curzon Quartet.