Top classical musicians head to Devon for Branscombe Festival

PUBLISHED: 16:39 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:39 29 June 2015

St Winifred's Church at Branscombe

St Winifred's Church at Branscombe


Ahead of the third Branscombe Festival Catherine Bird asks event co-founder Ian Ronsenblatt what is in store this year

Festival co-founder Ian Rosenblatt. Photo by Matthew LloydFestival co-founder Ian Rosenblatt. Photo by Matthew Lloyd

An East Devon village will play host to some great classical musicians when the Branscombe Festival returns for its third year from Friday 24 – Sunday 26 July.

The event will see the return of international leading classical and jazz musicians, this year including soprano Susan Bullock and Francesco Meli.

Curated by Ian Rosenblatt, founder of London’s Rosenblatt Recitals, and presented by BBC Radio 3 broadcaster and journalist Petroc Trelawny, visitors can expect to enjoy three glorious summer days of watching world-class musicians perform in an idyllic countryside setting, including some of the village’s most picturesque venues, and even on the beach.

Highlights include performances by world renowned Susan Bullock, who was the solo soprano at the Last Night of the Proms in 2011, and will be presenting a programme entitled Songs My Father Taught Me with pianist Richard Sisson.

Angel Blue is turning heads in the opera world. Picture: Sonya GarzaAngel Blue is turning heads in the opera world. Picture: Sonya Garza

Also performing is Angel Blue, who’s turning heads in the opera world after she recently performed at English National to great acclaim. She, along with previous recitalist Francesco Meli, will be working with pianist Matteo Pais.

Back by popular demand are The Leo Green Experience who will be doing some late night jazz gigs, and a recital by a contemporary percussion quartet 4-MALITY founded by Adrian Spillet, the first winner of prestigious BBC Young Musician in 1998.

Other performances include the award-wining British string quartet Sacconi Quartet, whose repertoire includes the likes of Schubert and Beethoven, and a free concert on the beach by the Band of the Royal Marines to culminate the weekend’s events on Sunday.

Branscombe Festival was launched in July 2013 with the aim to mirror the ethos of the Rosenblatt Recitals, allowing audiences to appreciate the work of first-class musicians in such an intimate setting.

The Band of the Royal Marines will parade through the villageThe Band of the Royal Marines will parade through the village

Devon Life asked Ian Rosenblatt to tell us more about this year’s festival.

With some returning performers and some new faces, is there anything on your programme that you are particularly excited about this year?

Soprano Susan BullockSoprano Susan Bullock

“I am looking forward to every bit of this year’s festival. I have to say I am especially excited to be welcoming Rosenblatt recitalists Angel Blue and Francesco Meli to Branscombe for the first time.

“It will also be a real treat to hear soprano Susan Bullock perform – all three will sing in Branscombe village hall and I think it’s wonderful to hear these internationally acclaimed artists in such an intimate setting.

“The Band of the Royal Marines is back by popular demand for its free concert on Branscombe beach which will be a lot of fun. Music aside, the hog roast and cream tea are definite festival highlights.”

The Sacconi quartet. Photo by by Emilie BaileyThe Sacconi quartet. Photo by by Emilie Bailey

Could you tell us a little bit about some of the venues that will be used for performances? From the beach to churches, what should visitors expect this year?

“I think one of the things which makes this festival really stand out is the way in which it utilises Branscombe’s spaces, both indoors and outdoors.

“As a Branscombe resident I know the village has a lot to offer in this sense. St Winifred’s, for example, is a wonderfully picturesque, rural venue with that classic sonorous church acoustic. It is thrilling to see world-class ensembles play in such a venue, it really makes a change from the concert hall.

“Also, the Band of the Royal Marines marching through the village to a free concert on the beach on the Sunday will be a fantastic finale.”

What is it like to work with some of the world’s leading musicians?

“As both co-founder of Branscombe festival and founder of the Rosenblatt Recital series – which has now been running in London for almost 16 years – I’ve been incredibly lucky to cross paths with many exceptional artists.

“I get a lot of joy out of working with fine musicians. I can say there has not been a single engagement from which I have not gained some very satisfactory experience.”

The festival is going from strength to strength – can we expect to see the festival progressing in years to come, and in what ways has it been such a success over the last two years?

“The festival has had a positive reception from the local community, and I know that the performers involved love the immediacy of contact with the audience. I hope the festival will continue its mission of hosting world class performers in intimate, unusual settings in years to come.”

Learn more on the Branscombe Festival website

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