Concerts in the West at Shaftesbury

A MUSIC organisation which has been bringing rising stars of the chamber and baroque music scene to Dorset, Somerset and Devon for 18 years, makes its debut at Shaftesbury this year, with two concerts organised in conjunction with Shaftesbury Arts Centre. The first Concerts in the West event in north Dorset will be on Sunday 21st April, at 3pm, and will feature the Gildas Quartet, playing at St Peter’s Church.

Catherine Maddocks, then director of the London Handel Festival, recalls that she had recently moved to Ilminster in 2006 and was asked if she would like to organise a concert in the town, as there was no classical music being performed locally at the time. ‘As I was very new to the town it seemed like a good way to meet people and so it proved,” she says. “One concert quickly became four in the first year with Lyme Regis joining in.’

The pattern was set, with additional venues being added, and young professional musicians being invited to perform at a series of three or four concerts, regularly including Bridport Arts Centre, Ilminster Arts Centre and the Dance Centre at Crewkerne. Other venues include Pendomer church near Yeovil, Upwey church and Lyme Regis.

Mrs Maddocks, who retired from her London role in 2016, was determined to have a very high standard of performance in the West Country: ‘The musicians, all of whom are trained to at least postgraduate level, find the tours quite useful in embedding repertoire and working towards recordings or a big concert in London or elsewhere.’

The Gildas Quartet are Tom Aldren, violin, Gemma Sharples, violin, Christine Anderson, viola, and Anna Menzies, cello. Their Shaftesbury programme will be:Montgomery’s Break Away, Haydnn’s String Quartet No 5, Op 76 Friedhofsquartett, Puccini’s Crisantemi for String Quartet and Debussy’s tring Quartet in G minor, Op 10.

The second Shaftesbury concert in the 2024 Concerts in the West programme will be with the Lumas Winds on 21st July.