Grove Park Music Festival 2004

A look back at this year's hugely successful event


Julie Kennard, the Festival’s Artistic Director

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Opera Lectures in Chiswick

Other events in Chiswick


Variety was the key to the success of the 2004 Grove Park Music Festival. The seven events, running from June 23rd to July 4th, ranged from a evening to thank the patrons for their support, with entertainment by the youthful Arcadia Wind Quintet, an Opera Gala presented by the Chiswick Choir under its conductor Alistair Jones and featuring Grove Park’s own Sally Burgess, fresh from a triumphant return to the role of Carmen at English National Opera, to a celebratory Choral Evensong, in which the choirs of the three local churches combined, including sacred works by Stanford, Parry and Vaughan Williams.

On the afternoon of Sunday June 27th St Michael’s Church was the setting for a concert, directed by Sarah Tenant-Flowers, at which children were especially welcome. The programme consisted of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, with Brian Kay as the narrator, and a Festival commission When I think of Chiswick, a suite for orchestra by Graham Preskett, inspired by his daughter’s view of local scenes. The concert also included performances by Jessica Hughes and Claudia Haberberg, prizewinners in the Festival’s Singing Competition and an impromptu recital in the interval, as enthusiastic children banged and stroked a whole range of instruments, watched over (somewhat warily) by the Brandenburg Sinfonia’s percussionist.

There could hardly have been a greater difference between the evenings offered by the London Community Gospel Choir, directed by the Reverend Bazil Meade, once again with enthusiastic contributions from the audience, and the Johnston String Quartet, who enthralled a capacity audience with Haydn and Mendelssohn and, joined by Young Musician of the Year Guy Johnston as second cello, a memorable performance of Schubert’s great string quintet. In their very different ways, each was a great success. The final concert Magnificent Mozart!, sold out days before the event, which was hardly surprising, given the standard of the similar performances in the first two Grove Park Music Festivals. A strong team of professional soloists, the ever-larger Festival Choir and the Brandenburg Sinfonia, under Brian Kay’s inspiring direction, gave magnificent performances of the eponymous composer’s Ave Verum Corpus, Solemn Vespers and what was to prove his swansong, the Requiem Mass. The only shadow over the Festival was the death of its President, the Duke of Devonshire, some weeks previously, and this closing concert was dedicated to his memory.

In addition to delighting large audiences, the events also raised over £1500 for The Stroke Association, the charity selected for this year’s Festival. Artistic Director Julie Kennard and her hard-working team are already hatching plans for the fourth Festival in July 2006 - so watch this space!

Ivan Moseley

July 30, 2004