Lanercost Festival of Music and Arts

At Lanercost Priory near Brampton, Cumbria, one of the most beautiful and dramatic locations in England

19th - 26th June 2016

The 2016 Lanercost Festival took place between Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th June. It was the most ambitious and most varied expression of the festival to date and involved five venues: Lanercost Priory Church, the adjacent Dacre Hall, The Lanercost Tea Room, the meeting room in the same complex and the Lanercost Cricket Club.

The programme contained different expressions of music: classical, jazz and guitar improvisation, also theatre, workshops for aspiring and practising writers: one for adults and one for Primary School children, poetry recitation, also competitions; a short story writing competition, following on from the first of its kind held in 2015, and the Young Musician of the Year competition, held on the final Saturday (25th June), which gave performance space and an audience to young performers of singular talent.

Also included were such events as a concert by Encore Opera, from Kirkby Lonsdale, one by outstanding young musicians from Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and the annual concert by the Lanercost Festival Chorus, directed by Jolyon Dodgson MBE: this year’s offering, Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, was Jolyon’s valedictory concert. Our sincere thanks to him for everything he has achieved with the choir over the past two years. We hope that we shall not lose touch with him.

This year’s charity concert, on Tuesday 21st June, took the form of a multi-media concert (music – instrumental and sung, spoken word and dance). The piece, Hymenaeus, was written especially for this year’s festival, with words by Mark Horseman and music by Jerry King, and took as its theme the topic of living with dementia. It was performed before a small audience, but so well was it received that it is hoped to give another performance.

The play this year was Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, performed in the Dacre Hall by Classic Theatre Cumbria. Again, audiences were small, but both performances were very well received. Subsequently, the same production was staged in Penrith Playhouse and Kirklinton Hall.

In addition to the previously mentioned events for Primary Schools, this year saw the first Transition Choir and Ensemble, a performance by boys and girls in their last year of Primary and first of Secondary education. This was put together by BlueJam Arts, under the direction of Jilly Jarman and brought together children from a number of schools in the Brampton/Lanercost area for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of music making.

The noon concert programme was expanded this year to five events: two piano and voice, a reading by writers Brindley Hallam Dennis and Marilyn Messenger of stories from their anthology Ambiguous Encounters, classical piano and saxophone and piano. These events were offered with no admission charge and audience members were given a discount voucher for the Lanercost Tea Room, redeemable on the day.

In all, this was an enjoyable and memorable week of varied expressions of culture providing rich entertainment in the rural setting of Lanercost.