Shipley Arts Festival 2023

Rupert with The Stradivarius Piano Trio – Andrew Bernardi, Maria Marchant and Jonathan Few. Photos courtesy of Richard Greenfield

Community and enduring friendships were celebrated at the launch of Andrew Bernardi’s Shipley Arts Festival which this year was once again held at Toovey’s Washington auction rooms.

The festival celebrates the local, national and international qualities of our nation gathering a community of many of this country’s leading musicians whilst providing pathways to emerging talent. This work is recognised and supported by the Arts Council of Great Britain.

I asked Andrew about the continuing success and growing national reputation of the Shipley Arts Festival. He replied “At the Shipley Arts Festival’s heart is the inspiration of English music, in particular continuing John Ireland’s tradition of music inspired by Sussex.” The composer John Ireland is famously buried at Shipley. Andrew continues “We continue to commission new music for Sussex and the festival from many of the nation’s leading composers and musicians. This year we have asked the famous English operatic baritone and composer Roderick Williams OBE, to write the third and final movement of his Knepp Piano Trio. This piece not only references composers like Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Ireland but is also inspired by the festival’s deepening celebration of nature, especially here in Sussex.”

At the heart of the 2023 season of concerts will be Andrew Bernardi’s Stradivarius Piano Trio with acclaimed Sussex born pianist Maria Marchant and cellist Johnathan Few. They will be performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Archduke Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op.97 and Antonin Dvořák’s Dumky Piano Trio No.4, Op.90, as well as works by Bach, Purcell, and John Ireland.

Shipley Arts Festival Director Andrew Bernardi with members of his String Academy. Photos courtesy of Richard Greenfield

One of the things I most value about the festival is how it remains generous and outward facing supporting our county’s young musicians through its String Academy who, together with Andrew and his professional musicians, performed music from the movies and Pink Floyd at the launch on Sunday evening.

Speaking on the evening Andrew said “What we have in common with our sponsors friends and patrons are our shared values. A belief in our communities and young people, and that there is a place for excellence.”

As the longest standing sponsor of the Shipley Arts Festival I am delighted that Toovey’s and myself remain at the heart of this remarkable celebration of music and community. Together with our fellow sponsors Kreston Reeves, Nyetimber, and NFU Mutual at Henfield and Chichester, we wish Andrew Bernardi and his Shipley Arts Festival every success with the 2023 season of concerts.

For more information on the forthcoming Shipley Arts Festival go to