Lawrence Power, Festival Artistic Director

Artistic Director's Welcome


I'm delighted to welcome you to the 2017 West Wycombe Chamber Music Festival. It's wonderful what a special event this has become for myself and the many musicians who visit each year. Not to mention our loyal and extraordinary audience! The church in West Wycombe is such an atmospheric and magical space to perform in, I genuinely look forward to it every year.

It's always a responsibility and a challenge deciding the programme for the festival and this year has been no exception. I have found it fascinating in previous years how themes started to emerge gradually when putting certain pieces together.

This year's theme will be VOICES.

The obvious starting point for this was the selection of sublime Vocal works in the programme by Schubert, Dowland and Monteverdi. These three composers very much defined and shaped western classical music through their writing for the voice.

Leading on from the vocal works in the programme I find it fascinating to look at a composer like Bela Bartok. After a breakthrough moment in his early 20s, when he heard a peasant woman singing folk songs, he collected, recorded and notated (with Kodaly) hundreds of songs from small villages in rural Hungary and Romania. His work preserving the music of those cultures had a profound influence on his own compositions and twentieth century music.

Equally important was Vaughan Williams, this country's most prolific collector of English Folk Songs and in Concert Two it will be fascinating to perform the early piano quintets by Vaughan Williams and Bartok, both written in 1903. More recently the Sicilian composer Luciano Berio often incorporated Folk Songs from all over the world to bewitching effect. I have always found his work Naturale for Viola, Percussion and Tape (concert 1) a true masterpiece and a perfect example of the power of the voice.

However its impossible to ignore the importance of Franz Schubert's works relating to the voice and in Concerts Three and Four we will be performing arguably four of his most important works - the Trout Quintet, Death and the Maiden String Quartet and his 2 works for male chorus Grave and Moon and Song of the Spirits over the Waters.

I'm so happy to be joined once again by artists that are now familiar to you all such as Simon Crawford- Phillips, Bjørg Lewis, Stephanie Gonley and Annabelle Meare. But I'm also very excited to welcome for the first time such important artists as the cellist Natalie Clein, soprano Ruby Hughes, pianist / composer Huw Watkins, the multi talented violinist Max Baillie, the double bassist Tim Gibbs and the percussionist Chris Brannick. Culminating in our gala concert with the WWCMF Festival Orchestra and Sam Laughton's Elysian Singers.

I'm so looking forward to these special days in September and hope to see you there.

Lawrence Power, Artistic Director

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