I’m in rural Dorset to take part in one of those thriving summer music festivals never mentioned in the Guardian’s guide to same. This will be the 21st annual festival run by the Gaudier Ensemble; I’ve been ‘at the piano’ for eighteen of those years. Despite the silence of the music press, the festival continues to flourish and to attract a loyal audience not only from this part of England, but sometimes from much further afield.
Rehearsals in the church are open to the public, and there have been people listening to every rehearsal so far, sometimes sitting in the church until late into the evening to catch all the pieces being worked on. Tonight is the first of seven concerts, and from now until Sunday evening we cover an enormous range of repertoire, from Mozart and Beethoven through Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky to Dohnanyi, Copland and Barber. One of the things I like is that this is not a specialist audience, nor has this village thrown its allegiance behind classical music, but everyone is willing to give our concerts a go, and having done so, they generally return time after time. This means that we see the same people in the audience year after year, a reunion I particularly look forward to.