We have a wonderfully broad programme of events on offer this year with great emphasis on both youth, diversity and yes, melody too!
I am delighted to report that we have both the winner and runner-up of the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year 2016 performing on the same evening - what an occasion that will be with Jess Gillam playing the saxophone and the winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason playing cello after the interval.
Sheku has been flown to the States twice already to perform and he hasn’t even taken his A levels yet! His equally talented sister Isata will be accompanying him on piano.
After the popular Street Party in the Square on Saturday, we welcome back Tom Poster, a prodigious and acclaimed talent for the sensitivity of his playing and he starts the music events off on Sunday evening with a piano recital. He was Steven Isserlis’ choice for an accompanist here in 2015.
A young Australian violinist of Chinese origin, Emily Sun, who last year won the ROSL’s Gold medal, starred in a brilliant documentary about the power of music and its effect on pupils when the entire school takes part in a performance at the Sydney Opera House. In discussion about her behavioural difficulties, her teacher said “but when she picks up her violin, she can be forgiven anything”!
We are also celebrating triumph over adversity with the pianistic brilliance of Nicholas McCarthy whose teachers scoffed at the idea of a one handed boy ever having dreams of succeeding as a concert pianist – how wrong they were!
Local schools are making an appearance with the Festival Choral Concert led by Sammy Hurden and a choir from Perrott Hill School led by Trevor Barr giving a memorial concert for our late Patron, Sir Neville Marriner.
Besides this, Wells Cathedral School's Chamber Orchestra, which includes students from 11 different countries, is playing a Symphony Concert for us and with the superb acoustics we have in St.Mary’s, this is a concert that will be ‘off the wall’!
More exciting young talent includes members of the Pelléas Ensemble (flute, viola and harp) who will enchant you with their virtuosity as will the aspiring members of the cast of Pop-Up Opera’s Il Matrimonio Secreto and if all this was not enough, the Cambridge University’s Footlights are bringing this year’s revue to us before going on to Edinburgh and then the States.
There is of course lots more including a superb Visual Arts Exhibition at the Town Hall and to wrap the whole Festival up, on the last Sunday we have a slapstick comedy based on Buster Keaton for the young ones in the afternoon and arguably the finest recorder player in the world in the form of Piers Adams and Red Priest in the evening for the President’s Concert.
With Gerschwin popping up in at least four programmes - ‘Who could ask for anything more!’