The popular Dulwich Music Festival is returning with a big bang in 2017! The festival is a fantastic opportunity for pianists, musicians (and their biggest fans) to gather together for performance, feedback and fun – and in 2017, the festival comprises three different events, the biggest of which takes place at Dulwich College on 11 June.
The first ever Dulwich Music Festival was featured on Dulwich OnView back in 2012 and it was a trip down memory lane reading the first feature on the event! In 2012, I founded the Dulwich Music Festival for my students, and for other local pianists and piano teachers. The festival was recently granted full membership of the Federation of British and International Festivals which is the membership body for all festivals that provide opportunities for amateur performers.
The festival is an opportunity to feature most keyboard instruments from piano to fortepiano to harpsichord, and we may include the organ in the future. The aims are to introduce young musicians to historical instruments and also to have competitive piano classes. We include lots of contemporary music on our Syllabus which provides the young musicians with the opportunity to meet the composers who wrote the music they’re playing.
Now into our sixth year, the festival has grown to include several other events hosted at venues across London. As a harpsichordist, I have always been keen to raise the profile of this beautiful instrument, especially to the new generation of young musicians. We are delighted to present a Junior Harpsichord Festival in March at one of London’s hidden gems, Handel & Hendrix museum in Bond Street. The house is set in a cobbled mews tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Bond Street and was formerly home to both George Handel and Jimi Hendrix. The competitors will perform on an elaborate harpsichord in the very rooms where Handel and Hendrix would have lived and composed. Audience members are invited to come and hear the next generation of young harpsichordists on Saturday March 11th 2017 at 2pm.
Continuing with the harpsichord, we have been working in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Gardens to host a Harpsichord Competition for conservatoire students and recent graduates. The Broadwood Horniman Harpsichord Competition was previously held at Fenton House in Hampstead but has found its new home at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill where we first hosted the bi-annual event in 2015. The competition brings together a group of international musicians to South London to perform on an 18th-century English harpsichord housed in the Music Gallery at the Horniman. This year, competitors are participating from the UK, Poland, Korea, America, France, Serbia and Hungary. Audience members are invited to come and hear the performers. Entry is free and the event takes place on Wednesday 18 April 2017 from 10am onwards.
Our newest event is the Clementi Junior Piano Competition which had its inaugural event in March 2016. Whilst researching local Dulwich history, I found a connection with Muzio Clementi’s former home on Kensington Church Street which was previously owned by Dulwich Schools JAGs and Alleyn’s School in the 19th century. Muzio Clementi was an Italian-born British composer, pianist and piano manufacturer that is known as the “Father of the Pianoforte” for his significant contribution to the development of the instrument. When I discovered this piece of local history I thought it was great connection for the Dulwich Music Festival and I contacted Clementi House to establish a new event. The house is lived in by a family so is not open to the general public. We are grateful to the Stacey family for allowing us to host our 2nd event at their beautiful family home! Young pianists perform set pieces by Clementi on a modern grand piano; the next competition is in February 2017. The competition is now fully booked. In the afternoon, I will perform a recital of music for spinet by 18th century composers. Tickets can be booked online.
Of course, not everyone wants to compete. I have colleagues who don’t enter their students into competitions and there are also parents of some of my students who do not want their children to participate in competitive events so we always include non-competitive classes. These provide the opportunity to receive feedback and it’s also great preparation for exams as it helps to combat the nerves by performing in public. We hope that by offering a wide range of events, we’ll continue to keep hitting the right notes with local musicians of all ages!