The Shipley Arts Festival was launched with a remarkable concert given in the company of their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon in the music room of their Sussex home, Goodwood House. The concert was held in aid of the Friends of Sussex Hospices and raised some £24,000.
Proceedings were opened by The Lord High Sheriff of West Sussex, Mark Spofforth. He spoke movingly of his experiences and respect for the hospices of Sussex and the work that they do. He said “I have been impressed not only by the standard of care for the patients, but also for the time and consideration shown to the family, particularly when youngsters are involved.” Mr Spofforth went on to praise those who had come together to support the Friends of Sussex Hospices giving particular thanks to the charity’s volunteers and founder, Kathy Gore, the gathered audience, the Artistic Director of the Shipley Arts Festival, Andrew Bernardi, as well as the sponsors, Buxted Construction, Toovey’s and Spofforths.
Honouring Goodwood the concert was titled ‘Speed and Flight’. The program was wittily interspersed with musical references to the activities of this important Sussex estate. Goodwood is a remarkable English treasure house which combines stunning collections and dramatic interiors with unexpected intimacy.
It is always a treat to hear Bruce Martin on flute His interpretation of Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto, ‘La Notte’, RV439, brought to life the wonderful invention, drama, tone and instrumental virtuosity of the piece.
The pianist Maria Marchant combines restraint, intensity and passion in such a way that your heart and mind is bound to the music – perfect qualities for Mozart’s Piano concerto K414 no.12.
The tone and range of Andrew Bernardi’s 1696 Stradivarius seems to grow every time I hear him. His joyous and passionate rendition of Vittorio Monti’s ‘Czardas’ was a delight.
The English operatic baritone and composer, Roderick Williams premiered his beautiful and profoundly moving ‘Goodwood Variations’ before singing three songs by John Ireland with a rare richness of tone.
During the interval came the auction. My gavel rose with the generosity of bidding and fell to applause. Unsurprisingly the dearest lots of the night were the opportunity to have Andrew Bernardi play the 1696 Stradivarius in private company. Donated by this ever generous musician they realised £2000 and £1700 respectively!
The concert concluded with J. S. Bach’s Concerto for two violins in D minor. It is widely considered to be amongst the finest examples of Baroque music. The Baroque, they say, is music for the heart and the soul. Soloists, Andrew Bernardi and Andy Laing, on his 1810 Cerruti violin, captured the subtle, yet expressive fugal, relationship between the two instruments wonderfully.
If, like me, you love J. S. Bach’s music there will be a rare opportunity to hear his Mass in B Minor at St Andrew’s Church, Steyning, on Sunday 29th May 2016, to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. Steyning and Shipley Arts Festivals are combining with Steyning Parish Church to put on a performance of one of the finest classical works ever written. The Bernardi Music Group and The Choir of Our Most Holy Redeemer St Thomas More will be conducted by David Bevan.
For more information on this and all the forthcoming Shipley Arts Festival concerts go to www.bmglive.com Tickets are on sale at The Capitol, Horsham box office. Telephone 01403 750220 or go to www.thecapitolhorsham.com. Demand is expected to be strong for these concerts so don’t delay!
By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.