Unusual premier at Chester Summer Music Festival

Posted on June 24, 2009

AMONG the diverse programme of events that form the Chester Summer Music Festival is a very unusual premier – the first public performance of a piece composed by pupils at Weston Primary School.

Artist in residence Graham Fitkin has been working with a class at a local primary school to create a work inspired by the work of 17th composer Henry Purcell.

“It’s going really well,” says the composer and musician, whose own group will also perform during the two-week festival.

“They are excited and are coming up with lots of ideas, most of which will go into the piece.

“They basically do all of it – they’re picking the notes, the themes, how many times various sections are being repeated – and I pull it all together.”

The finished work will be performed by the Manchester Camerata prior to the orchestra’s main concert in Chester Cathedral on July 10. It will be followed by Fitkin conducting his own piece, Vassal, arranged for full orchestral strings in 1998.

“It’s quite a fiendish, rhythmically vigorous piece,” he explains. “It starts out with all the instruments together in rhythmic unison and then the whole piece breaks apart.

“I’m excited to be conducting it.”

The festival as a whole aims to explore music written for the voice with an intense and exciting programme, consisting of 10 evening concerts and six lunch time performances.

“It’s important for a city of Chester’s size and stature to have a music festival, where you’ve got a vision throughout in this case dance and Purcell,” says Fitkin, who collaborates with a wide range of organisations and musicians throughout the world.

“It’s exciting for the whole community and there are lots of opportunities for everyone to be involved.”

These include the interactive Big Sing, on Saturday July 11, when choirs from all over the region gather at the Cross in the city centre before dispersing to sing on the walls and streets. Other events include the BBC Singers performing at the Cathedral, composer master classes, Chetham School’s 40th anniversary concert and a gala concert showcase of Handel’s Israel in Egypt.

Liverpool Daily Post, 22 June 2009
Laura Davis

CHESTER Summer Music Festival runs from July 2-18. Further details at www.chesterfestivals.co.uk

This project is being delivered as part of Songs of the Earth, a year-long programme of creative learning work supported by Bank of America Charitable Foundation. To read more about this collaboration click here.