“…. your ultimate companion to a summer of music”, says today’s Guardian Guide to Festivals. But is it? Not if classical music is your thing.
I subscribe to the Guardian, look forward to reading it every day and love it to bits, but every year when they publish their guide to summer festivals, I could slap them. This year is no exception. In a 50-page guide to music festivals, there is one page at the back devoted to classical festivals. One!
It’s not as if there aren’t any to include. Rather it is, sadly, that many of them are ignored. I know that because for years I’ve been playing in some of them, lovely little summer festivals with great players and enthusiastic audiences. For twenty years I’ve been playing in the Gaudier Ensemble‘s annual festival in Cerne Abbas in Dorset, a chamber music festival of the highest quality, with players drawn from all over Europe. I’m not aware it has ever been mentioned in the Guide. I mention it not to promote it above other festivals but just to use it as an example of one of many which deserve recognition.
Every year the Festival Guide name-checks a few established UK festivals such as the Proms, Aldeburgh, Glyndebourne, Bath, Cheltenham, Garsington. In other genres – pop and rock – they seem to go to some trouble to round up the adventurous, the remote, the zany, the farm festivals, the start-ups and the independents. But not in classical music, even though there are plenty of them in remote or unexpected places as well. The guide has sections devoted to big festivals, boutique festivals, day festivals, dance festivals, city festivals, folk and world festivals, European festivals, Family festivals, Jazz, Blues and Soul festivals – but it turns out that they all feature music other than classical. Only the back page is for ‘classical’. I can only think it’s a deliberate policy, and when I think of the meetings at which that policy is decided, I feel afraid.