• Hatfield House

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

Artistic Director, Guy Johnston, talks about the 2020 Festival…

We are thrilled to go ahead with filming some performances for the 2020 Festival and turn it into a family affair. We are giving audiences the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Lord Salisbury, who will introduce Hatfield House’s historic features with art historian Dr Emily Burns. I am delighted to invite many of the musicians who have become firm favourites at the Festival – the Navarra Quartet, clarinettist Julian Bliss and pianists Melvyn Tan and Kathryn Stott – to perform under these unusual circumstances along side some newcomers to Hatfield audiences – counter tenor Iestyn Davies, lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, soprano Katherine Broderick and organist William Whitehead – with no audience except the Salisbury family. Rather than abandoning this year’s Festival, we felt it was so important to keep musicians seen and heard, and above all employed. We do hope you will join us for our 2020 performances which will be broadcast live on Friday evenings through the month of September as well as being available to view afterwards. Simply subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications.

… 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 bringing you our broadcast concerts in the autumn, and seeing you all again in person in 2021 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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