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The Arnold Festival 2006

Sir Malcolm Arnold’s life was celebrated at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate Theatre on October 21 and 22 with a Festival dedicated entirely to his music. Poignantly, the weekend would have been the composer’s 85th birthday. 

The celebrations featured the UK’s top musicians, alongside some of the country’s most promising soloists, as well as local amateur and youth ensembles. Their performances throughout the two days of the Arnold Festival were of the highest order and represented the best of British musical life. The atmosphere that weekend was highly charged with enthusiasm and a deep appreciation of what the great composer has left us – an irreplaceable catalogue of his music.

On October 21, six musicians from UK music colleges, together with The Arnold Ensemble conducted by Matthew Taylor, each performed an Arnold concerto as part of the Arnold Concerto Day. The competition wassponsored by the late Sir Malcolm Arnold,  Anthony Day, Barclays, Mr & Mrs Norman Hollanders, Novello & Co Ltd, and the Worshipful Company of Musicians. The judges on this special occasion were international soloists Emma Johnson and Julian Lloyd Webber; broadcaster, lecturer and writer Piers Burton-Page; Chairman of the panel of judges was David Mellor QC. The first prize for the 2006 Arnold Concerto Day was awarded to Prema Kesselman for her outstanding performance of the Concerto for Flute No 2 Op 111 (1972). This work was composed during the period 1972-1977, when Malcolm Arnold was living in Ireland. Written for his great friend and fellow LPO player, Richard Adeney, the concerto shows the influence of another important musical friendship – that of Shostakovich, whom Arnold met in 1957. As part of her winning prize Prema Kesselman will be the soloist in a concerto performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Tolga Kashif, on Sunday 3 June at the Royal & Derngate. This will give the public another opportunity to hear the sheer artistry of this truly wonderful young player.

Prema Kesselman is an active soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, performing throughout the USA, Canada and Europe. She graduated from Temple University-Boyer College of Music in Philadelphia, PA, with a Bachelor of music in Flute Performance, where she also won many prestigious prizes and awards. Prema is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Flute Performance Studies at Trinity College of Music, London

Throughout the Arnold Festival weekend, concerts of orchestral and band music were programmed, as well as talks from a range of Arnold aficionados including Annetta Hoffnung talking about the composer’s relationship with her husband, cartoonist Gerard Hoffnung, Arnold’s biographer, Paul Harris, and Piers Burton Page who introduced his film ‘Contrasts’. The festival reached its climax with a special gala concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth. The performance featured the world premiere of the recently discovered Burlesque for horn and orchestra, with soloist Martin Owen, Principal Horn of the RPO.

After a period of closure for well over a year, the newly refurbished Royal & Derngate re-opened to the public with this special weekend of performances of music by Sir Malcolm Arnold. The building itself is inspiring. It is flooded with natural light and offers foyer spaces and a recital hall for chamber music and ensemble performances, together with its main concert hall, which has a maximum seating of 1,500. The Royal & Derngate was indeed the perfect venue in which to hold the first Arnold Festival in the composer’s hometown of Northampton!

To read a recent review from the Independent Newspaper on the Arnold Festival Click Here

Thanks are due to the sponsors of this weekend of glorious music-making:

The late Sir Malcolm Arnold, Anthony Day
Faber Music Ltd
Mr & Mrs Norman Hollanders
The Music Sales Group
Novello & Co Ltd.
The Worshipful Company of Musicians

For their creativity, commitment and sheer hard work on this important new Festival, special thanks are also due to Sir Malcolm’s biographers, Paul Harris and Anthony Meredith (co-authors of Malcolm Arnold: Rogue Genius), and to Nick Hallam, Programme and Marketing Director at the Royal & Derngate.

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