Honiton Arts Festival just gets better

PUBLISHED: 11:36 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 23:33 15 June 2010

Concerts organised by the Honiton Arts Festival get better and better. At the first of this year s programme, trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins and organist Ian Le Grice led the way with a magical evening in Cotleigh s packed church.

Concerts organised by the Honiton Arts Festival get better and better.

At the first of this year's programme, trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins and organist Ian Le Grice led the way with a magical evening in Cotleigh's packed church.

Crispian has an infectious enthusiasm for trumpets. As well as playing Mozart, Haydn and others on them, he demonstrated their range and development from the simplest one-note hunting horn to the most sophisticated modern cornet. Not forgetting plastic hosepipe, upon which he performed some of Handel's Water Music.

The rapport between the players was impressive, especially as the beautiful little Cotleigh organ has a limited range and difficult sightlines.

It was a very entertaining evening.

The next three concerts were played in St Paul's Church, in Honiton. This has acoustics which both players and audiences enjoy.

Instant Sunshine, is made up of three doctors from St Thomas' Hospital, London, and they have been creating musical cabaret since the 1970s. Like Flanders and Swann, they are witty, social commentators and their song We're Awfully Keen on the Arts was a joyful send-up of pretentions and art criticism.

The evening, an amusing venture for the festival ended with the sort of buzz that meant people had enjoyed themselves.

The festival's music director prides himself on seeking out young talent and Friday's lunchtime concert demonstrated why.

Hannah Marcinowicz and Daniel Swain proved to be virtuoso performers, demonstrating the possibilities, the range and the brilliance of the saxophone. No smooching here. They balanced their instruments with understanding, each exploring the other.

They played old and new work. A JS Bach Sonata contrasted with Swayne's Leonardo's Dream. Some found this difficult, others enjoyed the modern idiom. Whatever your tastes, the quality and talent of the performances was unmistakeable, the audience enthusiastic.

Dimitri Alexeyev is one of the world's most highly regarded artistes. To have heard this Russian pianist is to know why. To have brought him to the Honiton Festival is a triumph in itself.

He is a player who concentrates deeply on the music. He comes in, bows politely to his audience and gets on with it. His playing has a depth and richness of tone and a spaciousness which makes his technical mastery almost irrelevant. He has been described as a poet of the piano, and so he is. It was a great musical experience to hear him and the audience knew it.

We had Schumann in the first half, Chopin in the second, rounding off with the familiar, heroic Polonaise in A flat major to make a sensational ending. A never-to-be-forgotten evening.


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