This time last year, we were taking stock of all the wonderful performances which had just taken place in celebration of the Festival’s 10th Anniversary, and how could we possibly have imagined how very different our 11th Season would turn out to be…..?
It was heart-breaking to have to dismantle all the carefully-laid plans, including as they did such beautiful locations and inspirational artists and knowing that our cancellations were just part of a tidal wave engulfing musicians and venues everywhere. The loss of a season is not just about cancelled engagements though – it’s also about the missed opportunities to gather as a musical community and enjoy together the uplifting shared experience of live performance. Once the necessary practical steps had been taken, our overriding thought was therefore what we might do to keep the festival spirit alive and provide some musical distraction and solace to connect our audience during the challenging weeks of lockdown.
The result was our first ever Virtual Season, including a special message from Artistic Director Wu Qian, followed by a series of 3 online talks by Sandy Burnett, each one tailored to a particular concert programme and accompanied by a playlist of all the music due to have been performed, detailed programme notes on every work, and additional material showcasing our guest artists.
Over the past weeks, we have all been playing catch-up with the technology which is available but which lots of us have never before had reason to utilise, and we have been so thrilled to hear how many of you have taken up the gauntlet and used the resources we put together to recreate your very own concert experience from the comfort of home! Here are just a few of your reactions to our Virtual Festival:
As lockdown is gradually eased and green shoots of new musical life emerge, we count ourselves as exceptionally fortunate to be in a position to move ahead with our plans for next season and beyond, including, crucially, re-invitations to all those artists who were unable to perform for us this year. It is thanks to the loyal support of our sponsors, advertisers and of course, you, our audience, that this is possible, and we could not be more grateful for your commitment to the festival.
It is early days of course, and whilst social distancing is still the order of the day, we need to bide our time before finalising arrangements and confirming details of our 2021 season – but rest assured, we have some very special plans in the works, and we hope that in the meantime, you will save the dates in your diaries.
Thurs 6 May / Sat 8 May / Thurs 13 May / Sat 15 May 2021
Our sincere thanks go to our 2020 guest artists and venues who, in the face of so many cancellations, have been so understanding of our own situation – we wish them the very best over the coming months and a swift return to something resembling a normal performing life, and look forward to welcoming them finally to the Surrey Hills in a future season.
Ruth Padel – Paula Chateauneuf – Gary Hoffman – Modigliani Quartet – Elin Manahan Thomas – Adam Walker – English Chamber Orchestra
Hatchlands Park – West Horsley Place – The Menuhin Hall – Denbies Wine Estate – St Catherine’s School, Bramley
For details of what you would have seen and heard in the 2020 Festival click here for a copy of the Souvenir Programme.
Surrey Hills International Music Festival is a Registered Charity No. 1171264, 2021 season supported by Investec