Cerne Abbas Music Festival

IT is almost three decades since Richard Hosford and the Gaudier Ensemble made their debut at a beautiful Dorset church – 29 years on, this year’s Cerne Abbas Music Festival will run from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th July.

It all began in 1990, when clarinettist Richard Hosford, leader of the Gaudier Ensemble and a Dorset resident, had a vision of a music festival that he believed would be different from the standard commercial model.

He was looking for a location that gave the musicians an attractive venue in which to perform but, equally importantly, somewhere they could all be together for a week to play the music they wanted to play – at the highest artistic standards.

He wanted to develop strong links with the community, provide accessible music to the people of Dorset and create a stimulating environment for local young musicians and children.

He chose Cerne Abbas partly because of the excellent acoustics of the church but also because of the village and its community. That ethos continues and this year’s festival is an appealing mix of ta;ls. chamber concerts and family-friendly music.

The opening event at 4.30pm on Thursday 11th is The Great Community of Composers, a talk by musicologist and broadcaster Robert Philip, who will look at the many and varied styles of composition in the festival programme and examine the links and inspirations between them.

In the evening, at 7.30pm, the Gaudier Ensemble plays works from the baroque repertoire, including works by Handel, Telemann, Bach and Corelli:.

On Friday 12th at 7pm, the ensemble play a programme that incudes Nielsen’s charming Serenata, Mendelssohn’s piano trio in the less familiar version with flute in place of violin, and Beethoven’s Septet .

The late night concert, at 10pm, is Music from Hungary, with works by Bartok, Kodaly, Veress and Kurtag, ending with Bartok’s masterpiece, Contrasts, which was written for Benny Goodman.

Saturday’s coffee concert has a varied menu with Ted Bor’s Bach at the Double, for two violins and double bass, Oliver Tuan’s The Chase, Jean Françaix’s quartet for finds and Haydn’s string quartet in C major. The evening programme includes Madeleine Dring’s inventive 1968 trio for flute, oboe and piano and Dvorak’s delightful Dumky trio.

On Sunday at noon, the programme features Devienne’s quartet for bassoon and strings, and Schubert’s Trout quintet. The festival finale at 6pm opens with the oboe quintet by Bax, followed by Weber’s quintet for clarinet and strings, and ending with Dvorak’s second string quintet.