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Published on August 24th, 2016 | by Perrin


Ashdown Music Festival: 4th – 6th November 2016


This year the Ashdown Music Festival that takes place in Forest Row, Sussex, is in its fifth year and its ambitious, bumper programme (to be staged 4-6th November 2016) reflects the excited and celebratory mood. “Go big or go home,” Festival Director Reinoud Ford says, with a wink and smile.

As ever the AMF kicks things off with an Opening Concert (Friday 4th November, 7.30pm, Christian Community Church, Forest Row) that’s beautifully balanced, with a programme of pieces pulled from the solo and chamber repertoires. Award-winning English pianist Sam Armstrong performs solo Schubert and will be joined by Festival Director Reinoud and Violinist Oscar Perks for top notch Trios by Beethoven and Dvorak.

Saturday (5th November) is as usual about catering for music lovers of all ages and tastes. The morning is for the younger ones and again the AMF is staging a creative and highly appealing Family Concert (Saturday 5th November, 11am, Christian Community Church, Forest Row) featuring the Magnard Wind Ensemble. Presented by the CAVATINA Trust, the concert will include Mother Goose, five charming and traditional children’s stories originally set to music by Maurice Ravel: for this the Magnard players will be joined by a narrator and pianist. Also on the line-up are lively musical games and informative instrument demos.

From musical high jinks with the kids in the morning to expert baroque brilliance in the afternoon with the Brook Street Band, one of the country’s foremost interpreters of Handel’s music. The Band (don’t let the name mislead you: there’s not a guitar in sight) is at the top of the early music specialist tree and their programme (featuring pieces themed around the Grand Tour) will be performed on a specially raised stage at the Christian Community Church (Saturday 5th November, 4.30pm, Christian Community Church, Forest Row).

The Sunday Gala Concert is as ever the cherry on top of the Festival weekend pie  and Reinoud the Director has pulled out all the stops for his fifth year milestone.

For a start he’s got a chamber orchestra (whose ranks will be swelled by wind players at certain points in the evening) to accompany not one but TWO much-loved concertos, crammed either side of a cake-filled interval. British Violinist of critical acclaim Martyn Jackson (“one of the most exceptionally gifted violinists I have ever encountered”, Ida Haendel) performs Mozart Concerto No.5 and Reinoud Ford himself takes to the stage to take on Haydn C Major.

Quite aside from these two huge and hugely loved concertos on offer, the 12 Ensemble (that’s the un-conducted string ensemble accompanying the soloists) will be worth the ticket price alone. A bold, versatile and virtuoso ensemble, this group is built around a core of London’s finest chamber musicians. The 12 Ensemble gilds the Gala lily with William Walton’s Sonata for Strings (Sunday 6th November, 6pm, The Theatre, Michael Hall School, Forest Row).




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