• Hatfield House

    An inspirational setting for music-making, for artists and audience alike

A 10th Anniversary Wednesday 29 September – Sunday 3 October 2021

The Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this autumn with five full days of concerts, masterclasses, talks, schools events and a family concert.

Artistic Director Guy Johnston is delighted to announce his programme for this special year looking back at the past 10 years whilst also celebrating the present and looking to the future with contemporary works and new commissions. The line up of performers features both regular Festival artists sitting alongside new additions to the rostra of international chamber musicians who come to visit Hatfield each year. Musically the Festival plans span the wealth of musical history connected with the House with performances of pieces from the archives right through to the present day with two new commissions specially written for this anniversary.

Guy comments:

“I am absolutely thrilled to announce the plans for our 10th anniversary year. I can’t wait to celebrate this momentous occasion for the Festival. The Festival has come such a long way over the last decade, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the wonderful administrators, board of trustees, sponsors, volunteers, friends of the Festival and audiences. We of course owe a huge debt of thanks to Lord and Lady Salisbury for continuing to open their doors and for enabling us to share music in their beautiful and historic home.  What started as a seed of an idea has grown beyond what I could have imagined back in 2011 with such an array of esteemed artists appearing and performing many memorable concerts during that time.”

The Festival opens on Wednesday 29 September with a piano quartet line-up of cellist Guy Johnston and Festival regulars Magnus Johnston  violin, Brett Dean  viola and Tom Poster piano. The programme includes works by Schumann, Brahms and is also as a platform for a world première of a cello sonata by Joseph Phibbs.

The other new commission in 2021, a solo cello suite written specially for Guy by Matthew Kaner, will be performed as part of a performance in the Armoury on Saturday 2 October. The juxtaposition of old and new will be very evident in this concert with this new piece alongside an organ recital performed by William Whitehead which explores Hatfield House’s musical archives.

The 2021 Festival resident musicians also include the Carducci Quartet, the Orsino Ensemble, featuring star wind players and Festival regulars flautist Adam Walker and oboist Nicholas Daniel. Another regular performer in Hatfield, clarinettist Julian Bliss, will appear in the 2021 Festival in his other guise as he brings his quintet for a Saturday evening of jazz in the Marble Hall.

Guest artists coming for the first time to Hatfield in 2021 include world-renowned but locally-based soprano Carolyn Sampson in a song recital accompanied by pianist Joseph Middleton and we are delighted to host a performance by IMS Prussia Cove musicians as part of their annual concert tour. On the final day of the Festival vocal ensemble VOCES8 will be joining the line-up, inspiring local young choral singers in a singing masterclass in the morning and performing as part of the Finale concert in the Old Palace. Not only will VOCES8 enjoy a solo spot displaying a huge range of vocal repertoire in this final concert, but they will be joining the Festival resident musicians for performances of Britten’s Rejoice is the Lamb and Lili Boulanger’s Vieille Prière Bouddhique.

Running alongside the public concerts there will be plenty of activity for local schoolchildren – to listen, take part and perform themselves – and on Saturday afternoon families are invited to come to experience Holst’s Planet Suite being wonderfully brought to life through storytelling and painting by artist, James Mayhew.

Tickets will go on sale on the following dates:

Patrons and Crystal Friends from Monday 26 July

Marble Friends from Monday 2 August

Festival Friends from Monday 9 August

General booking from Monday 16 August

Join our e-newsletter to be amongst the first to hear. The Festival also plans to record selected performances and release them shortly after the live Festival events.

… and the Festival to date

Inspiration to start a festival came to me almost 10 years ago. I was travelling back from a performance at ‘Music in Great Irish Houses’ when I was reminded of the extraordinary historic houses in my home county of Hertfordshire.

I was introduced to our board member, Nick Moorhouse who was, at the time, working at Hatfield House and, later, to Lord and Lady Salisbury, who were enthusiastic about formally reintroducing music into their home. I couldn’t have imagined a more inspirational setting for making music. Hatfield House, with its Marble Hall, the Old Palace, the Chapel and other various rooms in the House, is truly breathtaking. I am delighted with what we have managed to achieve over the years.

Looking back at the last decade, we are proud to have hosted an extraordinary list of ensembles, artists and speakers including the Sixteen, Kings College Choir, the Aurora Orchestra, Alison Balsom, Melvyn Tan, Lawrence Power, Anthony Marwood, the Navarra and Endellion Quartets, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Angela Hewitt, Tom Poster, Rachel Podger, Sheku Kanneh Mason, Michael Collins, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Sean Rafferty, Sam West, Brett Dean, Ian Bostridge, plus local artists including Susannah Stranders, Julian Bliss, and the Herts chorus.

Our Festival themes have included ‘Remembrance’ to commemorate WW1, ‘Vienna’, ‘Inspired by Bach’, ’Brahms and Friends’ and, more recently, ‘Pour l’Amour de la Musique’.

It has been very exciting to watch our education work evolve and grow. Led by local musician Jill Knight, the programme offers opportunities to hundreds of school children from the surrounding area, while also building collaborations with the Purcell School and Hertfordshire Music Services.

None of this would have been possible without all the incredible efforts of our founding team, festival managers, the board of trustees, funders, Festival Friends and Patrons, and volunteers. It has truly been the greatest privilege working with everyone to realise our dream of bringing memorable musical experiences to Hatfield House.

Sincere thanks to our audience for supporting this special festival and, of course, to Lord and Lady Salisbury for making us feel so welcome in their home. We look forward to seeing you all again in person in the autumn for our 10th anniversary celebrations.

“The music was transforming, it was as if a spell had been cast. Helped by the surroundings, one felt drawn in to an experience so profound words cannot explain the magic.”

Audience Member, 2019

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