Newbury Spring Festival


Full Festival Diary

For our 40th Festival I am delighted to welcome back some much-loved musicians who appeared in earlier Festivals: John Lill played in the very first and he returns to perform Beethoven with Flanders Symphony Orchestra; Llyr Williams, Guy Johnston, Tom Poster, Elizabeth Watts, Natalie Clein, Ruby Hughes and YolanDa Brown all came to Newbury at the start of what are now major international careers, and I am pleased to introduce alongside them some outstanding young British musicians. Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, singers James Newby and James Way, and our new Festival Chorus Master Benjamin Cunningham with his chamber choir Sansara make their Festival debuts as John Lewis Young Stars. To mark our 40th anniversary young British composer Hannah Kendall has been commissioned to write a new work which will be performed by the Philharmonia under Edward Gardner, both returning for our opening night.

It is also an honour to welcome back legendary bass baritone Sir John Tomlinson in a new work, Kokoschka’s Doll, written for him and Counterpoise. The Schubert Ensemble who are almost as old as the Festival will give one of their final performances before they retire in June; Ex Cathedra, enhanced to 40 singers, revisits Douai Abbey; and broadcaster and art historian Andrew Graham–Dixon returns by popular demand. Many of you will remember the extraordinary Tibetan Monks of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery who I am delighted will again be in residence, and it is so exciting that Claude-Michel Schönberg, composer of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, will be with us for a special interview at Sydmonton.

The twin themes of ‘spring’ and ‘40’ are woven into the musical programme as well as a few notable centenaries: the 1918 Armistice, the birth of Leonard Bernstein and the deaths of Hubert Parry and Claude Debussy. The Festival concludes with performances of two of the greatest settings of the Mass, Bach’s in B Minor, performed from memory by Solomon’s Knot, and on the last night Mozart’s uplifting version in C Minor, conducted by Stephen Barlow, with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Newbury Spring Festival Chorus, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Mark Eynon, Festival Director