This summer I spent two weeks playing as Principal Trumpet at the St Endellion Summer Music Festival (26th July - 8th August). When I was first asked to play, I was unsure of what to expect, as I knew barely anything about the Festival. However I had a good friend who had performed at the Festival numerous times, and so it was on her recommendation that I decided to give it a chance.
I could never have imagined what an incredible time I would have - meeting new friends, performing alongside world renowned soloists and conductors and doing all of this in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
Over the two weeks, I performed in seven concerts:
Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 (Emperor) - Soloist: Charles Owen / Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle
Haydn The Creation - in both St Endellion Church and Truro Cathedral
Vaughan Williams Shakespeare Songs / Elgar Sea Pictures - Soloist: Roderick Williams / Dvořak Symphony No.8
St Endellion Brass & The Fisherman's Friends (Late Night Concert)
Mussorgsky Boris Godunov (Two performances in St Endellion Church)
Conductors: Martyn Brabbins / Aidan Oliver
Soloists: Sir John Tomlinson (as Boris Godunov) / Mark Padmore / Roderick Williams / Brindley Sherratt / Rachel Nicholls / David Butt Philip / Pamela Helen Stephen / Matthew Brook / Alison Rose / Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts / Lucy Hall
Each day we had a morning rehearsal from 9.30-1.00pm and then we were free for the afternoon. Every evening, we all ate dinner together (cooked by an incredibly hard-working kitchen team) and this would then be followed by either an evening rehearsal or a (sold out) concert. One of the most special aspects of the concerts at Endellion was the intimacy of the performances. Space in the church is limited and so, in the opera in particular, the staging is in amongst the audience and the orchestra. It was such an exciting feeling to be sitting so close to the singers as they performed and to feel so drawn into the action.
A new addition to this year's Festival was 'Project Awesome' an exercise regime consisting of runs, circuits and swimming in the sea at a variety of North Cornish beaches - all at 6:30am! P.A. would happen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and was organised by harpist Olivia Jageurs. It was a gruelling start to the day, however the struggle to get up was always made completely worthwhile by the stunning scenery and having the beaches all to ourselves.
As the Endellion Festival is now in its 57th year, there are many people who have been going for a number of years and this certainly creates a family-feel at the Festival. This could seem intimidating to a newcomer, however it could not have been a more welcoming and friendly environment and everyone made it so easy to get to know each other. The social element of Endellion was fantastic and we enjoyed a barn dance, a post-concert curry, a Festival party and many trips to the local pub!
British Tenor, Mark Padmore, is the Artistic Director of the Festival and it was his words of welcome in the Festival Programme that I found most perfectly summed up the whole Endellion experience for me:
"Enthusiasm is a very apt word to describe the spirit of the St Endellion Summer Festival - not cool, or trendy or ironic, but signalling an inspirational desire to do something for the love of it. It is worth reiterating that nobody gets paid a penny for performing at the Festival. The players in the orchestra and the singers in the chorus all contribute to the costs of accommodation and they throw themselves into long rehearsals because something special occurs when music is made like this.
We reconnect with a basic instinct and motivation and discover that there are things that are more important than the glamour and rewards of professional success. The Festival has once again been able to assemble a case of singers for the grand opera that any company in the world would be proud to engage and they will be performing quite literally in our midst - where else would you be able to hear Sir John Tomlinson's Boris Godunov at a distance of a few feet?
The Festival is deliberately run without subsidy or sponsorship so that we have no obligations to do anything other than the joy of community as expressed in music. We don't invite critics or journalists and are therefore not distracted by judgement or praise. I believe that this creates an extraordinary opportunity for performance and audience alike to experience music in a rare and special way - without the polish and glitz of the metropolitan concert hall - but perfectly fitting the rough, honest beauty of the church where we perform and the magnificent landscape in which it is found".