A pure musical feast

Robin Newton, head of music at Garsington Opera.
Robin Newton, head of music at Garsington Opera.

MUSIC lovers will be flocking to Northumberland next month.

A feast of opera, classical and traditional music takes place at three of the county’s finest houses — Eshott Hall, Doxford Hall and Guyzance Hall.

The inaugural Northumberland Music Festival, sponsored by the Northumberland Gazette, runs from October 28 to November 6.

With more than 80 programme items, 12 music events and concerts, nine dinners, lunches or suppers, eight sets of performers, three Georgian mansions and one inspirational producer, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

The 10-day festival is aimed at putting Northumberland on the map as a major music destination, with audiences experiencing performances of international calibre.

One of the key highlights is sure to be the Gilbert & Sullivan concert on November 5, featuring former singers of the D’Oyley Carte Opera Company and a magnificent display of fireworks.

For those who prefer something more traditional, this festival is the first time that Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band will have performed in Northumberland.

Highlights include:

• Three Gala Opera Concerts – presented by Robin Newton, head of music at the renowned Garsington Opera. Soloists include soprano Samantha Crawford, mezzo soprano Adriana Festeu and tenor Charne Rochford

• Two Gilbert & Sullivan Concerts – featuring fireworks (on November 5) and former singers of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company

• Chetham’s School of Music Concert Performance – young performers who are studying at the UK’s largest specialist music school will entertain with a piano concert ranging from classical to jazz.

• The Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band – proudly representing the North East’s brass band legacy and its long-standing association with our industrial heritage. This is the first time that they will have performed in Northumberland.

• The Northumbrian Ranters – an enthusiastic band of young musicians aged between eight and 18, who will show the great past and future of traditional music.

• Concerts performed by Murray McLachlan, internationally renowned pianist and head of music at Chetham’s School.

• The Polyphonic Brass Quintet – regular performers at the UK’s most prestigious concert venues, their repertoire includes Handel, Vivaldi and Elgar.

• The Kingsmead String Quartet – performances will include classic compositions from Gershwin, Dvorak, Bridge and Haydn.

• Northumbrian Pipes & Fiddles – the Northern Airs concerts feature sparkling dance tunes, lively rhythms, slow airs and stunning airs from two of the county’s best traditional musicians.

The Northumberland Music Festival is to be held in Doxford Hall, Eshott Hall and Guyzance Hall, three former mansions which are enjoying new lives as prestigious hotels and now music venues.

They are owned by Robert Parker, who is passionate about music and has devised the programme for the festival.

He said: “We want to bring music to Northumberland — a county which already has everything else for visitors and residents.

“There is a wonderful line-up of performers from across the UK and we have devised a programme which we hope will be of interest to all musical tastes and ages.”

Many of the tickets will also feature the chance to dine at the AA Rosette Restaurants at Doxford and Eshott Halls from champagne receptions and gourmet dinners before the opera to traditional pie and peas to whet the appetite for the brass band performance.

Special accommodation packages are also available at the hotels.

During the festival, Eshott Hall and Doxford Hall are offering hugely-reduced accommodation rates of only £60 per person per night sharing a room.

A donation from all ticket sales will be made to the Great North Air Ambulance, Macmillan Cancer Support and HospiceCare North Northumberland.

For more information, and to buy tickets, visit www.nmfestival.com, ring 01668 283100 or email info@nmfestival.com