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

Music of a Different Kind at Goodwood

The 1979 Hepworth-Cheverolet GB1

Goodwood by the Sea is one of the Shipley Arts Festival’s most famous and popular commissions. Composed by the internationally celebrated baritone and composer, Roderick Williams, it was inspired by the Goodwood Estate. But as Andrew Bernardi, the Festival’s Director, and I set out for the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed it was to celebrate music of a different kind – the music of V8 and V10 racing engines and the electric cars as they sped up the famous hill climb.

Andrew Bernardi at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

In the woods we witnessed the extraordinary power and poise of the 1980s Group B rally cars and the spectacle of the rough terrain Safari Championship buggies as they jumped and swerved around the purpose built course.

The speed and acceleration of the electric cars was other. I have never seen anything move up Goodwood’s hill as fast as Thomas Yates’s McMurtry Spiérling (the name is apparently Irish for thunderstorm). It looks like a cross between a Batmobile and a Le Mans prototype racer. The dual electric engines deliver 0-60mph in under two seconds and a top speed of 200mph. The car made a sound like a jet engine thanks to its fans which generate 2000kg of downforce. As it broke the all-time Goodwood record it moved so fast it sucked hay out of the trackside bales!

Another car which created an elemental noise was the Hepworth family’s 1979 Hepworth-Cheverolet GB1 with its 5.0-litre V8 engine. The car was the final BRM F1 car but never raced in the British Aurora F1 series which it was built for. The Hepworths used the chassis to build a ground-effect Can-Am car. Although it was shipped to the USA it again never raced. More recently the Hepworth family rebuilt the car and its racing pedigree was begun here in Sussex at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed. It was wonderful to witness it thundering up Goodwood’s famous hill climb.

I couldn’t believe that BMW’s M division is only 50 years old. The magnificent sculpture in front of the house appeared to throw some of the most famous M-series BMWs up into the air as other examples of the marque rushed up the track celebrating this important anniversary.

Goodwood with its remarkable celebration of cars and speed really did provide music and a festival of a unique and different kind.
I can’t wait for the 2022 Goodwood Revival weekend which runs from 16th to 18th September.

To find out more and to book your tickets visit and for the Shipley Arts Festival go to

International Baritone Roderick Williams to Perform in Sussex

Sedgwick Park House and Gardens, Horsham

The Shipley Arts Festival added to the joyful celebrations of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in West Sussex with a sell-out concert at the Blue Idol at Coolham. Festival director, Andrew Bernardi is now turning his attention to a concert at Sedgwick Park House near Horsham on Wednesday 22nd June 2022 which is set to be one of the highlights of this season with international baritone and composer, Roderick Williams, performing and bringing a new composition for the festival.

The concert is being hosted by Festival Patron Clare Davison who, with her late husband John, were amongst the earliest supporters of the Shipley Arts Festival. Clare’s patronage has also extended to Sedgwick Park House and its magnificent gardens which she and John lovingly restored. I ask Clare how she feels to be selling this house that she has invested so much love into and shared so generously with the community over so many years, She replies “We never really own anything we just look after things for a bit and the time has come for this wonderful, generous place to bless a new custodian.”

The long term relationships which Andrew has fostered with his audiences, patrons and musicians through the Shipley Arts Festival are rare and have enabled an extraordinary renaissance in the patronage of music and creativity in our county.

Speaking about the music he has commissioned through the Shipley Art Festival Andrew says “Sussex has a rich artistic history for music especially in the early 20th century, a tradition I am keen to keep alive. We’re following in the footsteps of Sir Edward Elgar who for a time composed at Fittleworth, Ralph Vaughan Williams who gathered many of his famous folk songs and tunes from the fields around Horsham and of course John Ireland who lived at Rock Mill, Washington.”

International baritone and composer Roderick Williams

I can’t wait to hear Roderick Williams’ latest composition which will join his remarkable Goodwood by the Sea. The Shipley Arts Festival commissioned Goodwood by the Sea for pianist Maria Marchant. The piece provides an impressionistic articulation of the sea. I have longed to be able to adequately describe the whoosh and clatter of waves breaking on the pebbles of a beach and the feeling of being so very alive as the wind carries the salty spray ashore and the elements overwhelm the senses and this piece captures that.

This will be a remarkable evening. To book your tickets, which include a glass of Nyetimber, and to find out more about this season’s concerts visit and Sedgwick Park House and Gardens can be viewed on Rightmove.

Shipley Arts Festival 2022 Launched at Toovey’s

Andrew Bernardi and Maria Marchant at the 2022 Shipley Arts Festival launch
Andrew Bernardi and Maria Marchant at the 2022 Shipley Arts Festival launch

Community and enduring friendships were celebrated through the music of Andrew Bernardi’s Shipley Arts Festival which this year was launched at Toovey’s Washington salerooms.

The celebration began with a dinner in support of Chestnut Tree House at Arundel Castle. Mike Rymer, Chair of the charity’s trustees, greeted guests in the library before the dinner which was hosted by Henry, Earl of Arundel who spoke passionately about the work of our remarkable children’s hospice.

Malcolm Singer, the former Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music and current Professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London had written a remarkable piece for this year’s festival with solos for Andrew and his Stradivarius violin and one of the talented young musicians at the heart of Andrew’s work, Grace Shearing. The piece is profoundly moving capturing the joys and sorrows of our human experience of the world. The violin solos are light-filled dancing hopefully above an underlying lament which draws on the Jewish tradition. Malcolm said “It was very special to première Eli, Eli Fantasy at Arundel, and it was a lovely experience working with those young musicians and Andrew.”

At the Festival launch on Sunday evening at Toovey’s Andrew Bernardi was once again joined by the acclaimed Sussex born British pianist Maria Marchant whose performance of Roderick Williams’ Goodwood by the Sea (written for the festival and Maria) delighted the festival supporters and friends. It was lovely to see another celebrated Sussex musician, Victoria Greenwood, returning to the festival. Victoria with her Viola played Rebecca Clarke’s I’ll bid my heart be still, inspired by the Thomas Pringle Poem of love and loss was beautiful, timely and moving.

Grace Shearing, a member of Andrew’s String Academy showed a maturity beyond her 15 years. She captured the audience with her passionate rendition of the 2nd movement of Bruch’s violin concerto.

Andrew and Maria transported us with Edward Elgar’s Sospiri Op.70 The festival launch concluded with Andrew an Maria treating us to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending.

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

Speaking about the festival’s sponsors Andrew says “What we have in common with our sponsors, musicians and supporters is that we care about people and bringing our communities together.”

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, NFU Mutual at Henfield and Chichester, Wakefields and YuYuan Art, we look forward to West Sussex continuing to be at the centre of our nation’s musical life thanks to the determination and talent of Andrew Bernardi.

For more information on the forthcoming Shipley Arts Festival concerts go to

Live Premier of a New Concerto Inspired by Sussex

Andrew Bernardi and the 1696 Stradivarius preparing for the live premier of Paul Lewis’ new Violin Concerto © Malcolm Green 2020

This week I am in the company of Andrew Bernardi bathed in the dappled light in his garden. The Shipley Arts Festival has commissioned a new Violin concerto by the acclaimed Sussex composer, Paul Lewis.

I ask Andrew about this exciting new commission. He replies “Paul Lewis who’s been a friend now for well over 10 years and a part of the festival is a composer who lives in Sussex. He’s written a wonderful violin concerto. The minute we began to rehearse it we knew it was going to be a hit.

We’re going to be playing the whole concerto which is very cleverly written. The opening movement is titled 1696 Stradivarius. The intervals at the beginning are one-six-nine-six after the year the Stradivarius was made.”

The second and third movements are titled Shipley Idyll and Chinese Adventure.
Andrew says “This [concerto] is a real story that comes out of Sussex. Paul’s very cleverly also continued our journey which, as you know, has gone across Asia, so the concerto ends with Chinese Adventure.” Andrew’s important cultural dialogue with China has continued throughout the pandemic as have his performances with the Shipley Arts Festival embracing the opportunities of online concerts during lockdown. Andrew is delighted by the opportunities the technology has provided and to be performing in front of audiences once again now restrictions are easing.

I remark that he is rooted and sent from Sussex. Andrew smiles and agrees. Shipley has such big place in his heart I ask him what it is like to play the Shipley Idyll movement. He pauses to reflect and says “It’s very beautiful, very witty, brilliantly written and very challenging to play I might add.”

He continues “It reminds me of going down the river from here at our house which carries on to the church and goes through the Knepp Estate and eventually ends up in the sea. And that kind of describes what music does. That idea of something small becoming something huge. I think the river system brilliantly reflects this. So that’s what I think the Shipley Idyll reflects. You go out and find all these beautiful places and then you meet all these wonderful people on your journey and then you’re part of the sea, this amazing thing that you never knew was so large.”

As Andrew talks it seems to me that this could also be a metaphor for the growing national and international reputation of the Shipley Arts Festival here in Sussex.

Andrew plays me the Shipley Idyll movement. It is deeply moving, hope filled, shimmering descriptive, like the changing seasons, it seems to capture the passage of time and love – the pilgrimage of life in a Sussex landscape.
Andrew describes how for him the character of Sussex is born out of its people.

He concludes “My friends, the people here in Sussex are really warm hearted, hospitable, open and sharing, like the countryside. That’s what it’s all about.”
Andrew Bernardi’s generosity of spirit is at the heart of the Shipley Arts Festival with its community of musicians and supporters. Paul Lewis’ beautiful Violin Concerto’s live premier will be at Nuthurst Church on 18th July 2021. To book tickets for this and other concerts in the 2021 Shipley Arts Festival season visit