Annual Hatfield music festival to be filmed for an online audience

PUBLISHED: 16:06 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:17 08 July 2020

Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival artistic director Guy Johnston

Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival artistic director Guy Johnston

Archant

Musicians are to record performances for an online version of an annual Hatfield music festival that will now reach a global audience.

Hatfield HouseHatfield House

While the coronavirus pandemic prevents the ninth Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival from taking place in its usual format, artistic director Guy Johnston has announced this year’s concert series will be filmed.

Four special chamber concerts will be made available as free online streams.

Filming of the private concerts will take place at Hatfield House in late July.

They will then premiere on the festival’s YouTube channel on Friday evenings during September, with forewords by Lord Salisbury.

The Armoury at Hatfield House. Picture: Hatfield House.The Armoury at Hatfield House. Picture: Hatfield House.

Each concert will offer a rich cultural feast with programmes augmented by exclusive interviews with artists, curators, historians, and the Salisbury family who have owned Hatfield House since 1607.

Acclaimed cellist Guy Johnston said: “We are thrilled to go ahead with the festival and turn it into a family affair.

“We are giving audiences the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Lord Salisbury, who will introduce Hatfield House’s historic features with art historian Dr Emily Burns.

“I am delighted to invite many of the musicians who have become firm favourites at the festival to perform under these unusual circumstances, with no audience except the Salisbury family.

The Armoury at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan DaviesThe Armoury at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan Davies

“Rather than abandoning this year’s festival, we felt it was so important to keep musicians seen and heard, and above all employed.”

While maintaining local support, filming opens up the annual festival to a new audience worldwide for a truly unique experience, going behind the scenes at one of Britain’s most celebrated historic houses – the childhood home of Elizabeth I.

Artistic director Guy Johnston has devised a stimulating programme spanning 400 years from John Dowland, who appears in Hatfield House’s archives, to the world premiere of a new work by composer Matthew Kaner.

The repertoire for each concert will be introduced by Stephen Johnson.

The Marble Hall at Hatfield House. Picture: Hatfield House.The Marble Hall at Hatfield House. Picture: Hatfield House.

Guy Johnston and pianist Melvyn Tan will perform Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major, and the Navarra Quartet unite with clarinettist Julian Bliss for Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.

Soprano Katherine Broderick is joined by pianist Kathryn Stott in a programme of chamber songs by Quilter, Schubert and Fauré.

A historical concert in two parts will delve into the sacred and secular 17th-century music-making of Hatfield House.

Countertenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny will perform songs by John Dowland in the Long Gallery, while organist William Whitehead revives music from the House’s archives on the remarkable 1609 Hahn organ in the Armoury.

Hatfield House from the air. Picture: Hatfield HouseHatfield House from the air. Picture: Hatfield House

Following Elizabeth I’s reign, Hatfield House benefitted from the extensive musical patronage of its owner, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury.

Many of Britain’s most celebrated Tudor and Jacobean musicians crop up in some form in the Hatfield House archive – John Dowland, lutenist and composer, and Nicolas Lanier, first ever Master of the King’s Music, were in the 1st Earl of Salisbury’s pay.

Thomas Morley, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons, among many others, dedicated pieces to him.

Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury.

Elizabeth I Rainbow Portrait at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan DaviesElizabeth I Rainbow Portrait at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan Davies

It was built in the early 1600s by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and son of Lord Burghley, the chief minister of Elizabeth I.

The deer park surrounding the house and the older building of the Old Palace – built in 1485 by the Bishop of Ely, John Morton – had been owned by Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, who used it as a home for his children, Edward, Elizabeth and Mary.

It was while she was living in the Old Palace, in 1558, that Elizabeth learned of her accession to the throne.

The performances will be filmed by Apple and Biscuit Recordings in high quality and intimate multi-camera set-ups.

The Long Gallery at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan Davies.The Long Gallery at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan Davies.

Filming locations will include several of Hatfield House’s historic and striking rooms, including the Marble Hall, home to the famous Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Chapel, consecrated in 1614 and still used as a regular place of worship.

The concerts will be premiered free on the festival’s YouTube channel on September 11, September 18, September 25 and October 2, 2020.


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