Victoria Stewart Arts Trust finale concert at Messums Tisbury

VERONICA Stewart was a force to be reckoned with in the arts community in and around Salisbury, passionately interested in music, sculpture, theatre, literature and painting.

So it is fitting that her early death in 2011 should have inspired her family and friends to celebrate her life by creating a short term trust to support emerging artists across her fields of interest.  And after five years of fund raising, grant giving, performances and exhibitions, the trust reached its climax in the beautiful setting of Tisbury Tithe Barn, home to Messums Wiltshire on 21st July.

Trustees David Bernstein, Sally Collier, Sue Kent and Veronica’s son Daniel Burrough worked with Johnny Messum to create a celebration that the packed audience of friends and supporters agreed would have delighted Veronica.

Cellist Matthew Barley, who has a long connection with Salisbury Festival, joined viol da gamba player Liam Byrne, violinist Holly Harman, lutenist Jonas Nordberg, percussionist Harriet Riley, and Bristol based aerialist Maia Ayling from Thimble Theatre for a performance of personally chosen works ranging from Marais to the Appalachia Waltz, whose climax was the commissioned piece Keepers of the Corallite, composed by Daniel Saleeb with libretto by Zoe Palmer and sung by countertenor Iestyn Davies.

The first half ended with a house hip-hop dance by Levi Burrough, Veronica’s grandson and a talented performer who will be seen in Southampton this summer as part of the Zoonation Dance Company.

Examples of the visual arts supported by the trust were on display in the Tithe Barn, which, under the direction of Johnny Messum, is providing a welcoming focus for local artlovers as well as those from much further afield.

If the atmosphere of the Tithe Barn gave problems to the string players, its soaring beauty and resonant acoustic thrilled the audience at this lasting tribute not just to Veronica Stewart but to those who will continue her legacy.


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