I’ve just returned from the Gaudier Ensemble’s annual festival at Cerne Abbas in Dorset (photo: the last piece of the final concert – the Dvorak piano quintet with (L to R) Marieke Blankestejn, Ulrike Janssen, me, Iris Juda and Henrik Brendstrup).
One of the pleasures of the festival is seeing the same people year after year – not only my colleagues but also people in the village and members of the audience. Some audiences are shy about communicating their reactions to the musicians, but perhaps because many people come to all the concerts, and keep bumping into us in the street or in the village shop between performances, they gradually pluck up the courage to speak to us, and when they do they often say amazing things. I often feel that in this one week I have been able to store up enough appreciative comments to keep me going for a long while.
This was the first time we had all met together since our cellist Christoph Marks died unexpectedly at New Year. It felt very strange to be in the village without seeing him in his usual places. On the Saturday night, there was a concert in his memory. His old friend Iris Juda spoke movingly about him, and at the end of the programme, five of his friends played one of his favourite pieces, the Schubert string quintet. Many of the audience spoke about Christoph, and it was clear what an impression he made on everyone over the years. There was a special atmosphere that night as everyone drank in Schubert’s extraordinary mixture of sadness and serenity.