This week’s traditional Remembrance observances will still be echoing next May when Whittington Music Festival marks the centenary of the end of World War 1 with its week-long “Fantasia on a British theme”. The festival’s newly released artwork shows a poppy sheltered by a spreading oak shaped as a cello.
“The first world war carried off some brilliant young composers among the thousands of casualties”, says festival founder Lawrence Mortimer. “We intend to honour them with a celebration of British music stretching back to Shakespeare’s time up to the present day”. Elgar, best known for his Pomp and Circumstance marches, headlines the festival, as does Vaughan Williams, who was a stretcher-bearer during the conflict. The final concert on May 20th will be the festival’s particular contribution to Oswestry’s centenary events.
The 2018 programme features no less than seventeen composers, all of them British, including Oswestry composer Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941). This is a radical break with tradition for the world-class classical music festival, which attracts large audiences to the Oswestry area for a week each Spring. For its first five years the festival focussed on just one composer a year, featuring in turn Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven.
“Once again we have a brilliant collection of international artists coming to Whittington”, says new festival Chairman Robert Greaves. “The celebrated Elias Quartet are coming back, and we have Principal instrumentalists from the London Symphony Orchestra and other European ensembles”.
The musicians, who include renowned Scottish fiddler Donald Grant, a member of the Elias Quartet, will be dedicating part of one concert to traditional folk music. “It is after all the inspiration of so much of the British classical repertoire”, says Mr Mortimer.