Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM) rejoices in the resurgence of live music in Hertfordshire with an exciting programme of glorious music, both old and new.

This year’s principal artist is the wonderful horn player Ben Goldscheider.  Ben has gone from strength to strength since being the BBC Young Musician finalist in 2016, giving recitals in major concert halls around the world. Ben is from Hertfordshire and is delighted to be involved in several Festival events: his Goldscheider Quintet with narrated pieces by Ruth Gipps and Ravel; a recital with pianist Richard Uttley; and a masterclass given to selected aspiring horn performers.

Musicians Guy JohnstonMelvyn TanMathilde Milwidsky and Huw Watkins also join the roster of acclaimed artists visiting HFoM for the first time and there be a visit from the celebrated Maggini String Quartet in performances of music by both David Matthews and Malcolm Arnold.

Hertford will enjoy a return visit by two local artists with an outstanding national and international following. The flautist Emma Halnan and organist William Whitehead perform concertos by Malcolm Arnold with the HFoM Festival Orchestra conducted by Matthew Taylor in what will surely be one of the Festival highlights – and a fitting tribute to the late and much-loved Co-Founder of HFoM, Tom Hammond.

HFoM marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with two special events in Hertford. Our Festival Concert Band will bring local community musicians together to perform arrangements of music associated with royalty in a fun, relaxed performance in the grounds of Hertford Castle. And with a thriving choral tradition in Hertford, we relish the opportunity to hear three local choirs from St AndrewsAll Saints’ and the Hertford Chamber Choir as they join forces in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee, together with organist William Whitehead.

The Featured Living Composer is David Matthews – one of the UK’s foremost composers who will be visiting many events and engaging in conversation about in his remarkable life in music. There’s a fascinating retrospective of the music of Sir Malcolm Arnold too as his music runs a thread through the festival.

Festival favourites ZRI make a return appearance in an evening of musical fun.  ZRI’s “Adventures with Charlie Chaplin” is part concert, and part film screening with live score. ZRI will bring their musical interpretation to the classic ‘The Adventurer’, including tunes by Django Reinhardt, Georges Boulanger, and much more.

Full details of all the events are on the Festival website. Events take place in Hertford, Ware, St Albans, Harpenden, Hitchin, and Hatfield.

As part of this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM), French horn player and this year’s HFoM Principal Artist Ben Goldscheider will be giving a horn masterclass on Thursday 9 June 2022, 5.00pm-6.30pm, at Queenswood School, Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

Applications are now open for musicians to apply:

  • Anyone can apply. There is no age limit; however, applicants should be Grade VIII or Diploma standard, and above.
  • There is no charge to apply to participate in the Masterclass, and tickets to observe the sessions will also be free. Due to limited space, the classes will also be made available as a livestream.
  • The services of a professional pianist will be provided, free of any charge, if you’re chosen to participate. You will only need to cover the costs of transport to and from the class, and accommodation, should that be necessary.
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Tuesday 12 April 2022

DOWNLOAD Masterclass Application

Find out more about Ben Goldscheider


The Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM) celebrates and nurtures exceptional music-making, bringing world-class musicians to the county. HFoM’s aims include supporting professional and young musicians from Hertfordshire, presenting fascinating music by living composers, and devising major and innovative projects for education and participation.

Founded in 2016, HFoM has presented concerts that have inspired extraordinary audience responses, with artists such as Tasmin Little OBE, Dame Emma Kirkby, Chloë Hanslip, Stephen Hough CBE, Steven Isserlis CBE, the Carducci Quartet,
the Galliard Ensemble, and the Orchestra of the Swan.

In 2022 Ben Goldscheider will be the Principal Artist at the Hertfordshire Festival of Music, which runs from 2nd to 11th June 2022.

In addition to the masterclass, Ben will be giving a recital with pianist Richard Uttley on Thursday 9th June 2022, also at Queenswood School. Ben will also be performing with a quintet on Friday 10th June at 7.30pm in St Saviour’s Church, St Albans.

Full details of all the HFoM concerts and event will be available on the HFoM website:
www.hertsmusicfest.org.uk

A “friendly and accessible vibe…the very highest level of music-making and extremely imaginative programmes, in beautiful locations

– Judith Weir, CBE, Master of the Queen’s Music

Conductor and festival director Tom Hammond thinks we should all bother with music. In this guest post, he explains why and previews this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music.

I’m writing this a month before the opening of the 2021 Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM), with the sweaty brow of the accidental concert promoter desperately hoping to see more tickets flying off the shelves. Postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Festival is particularly special because for many people it will be the first time they will have enjoyed live music in over a year. For me, my co-artistic director, James Francis Brown, and indeed the whole Festival team, the challenge this year is presenting live music in a COVID-secure environment to ensure the comfort, safety and enjoyment of our audiences, performers and staff. There is the additional challenge of social distancing which means that venues cannot operate at full capacity and we can only offer a limited number of tickets for each performance. We are fortunate to receive the support of Arts Council England and a number of charitable trusts and foundations, county, district and town councils, while a growing Friends Scheme allows individuals to play an important role in furthering the Festival’s scope and potential.

Of course, we are not the only music festival or concert promoter trying to square the circle of socially-distanced events and the consequent reduction in ticket revenue, but there are always solutions if you look for them, and to accommodate as many people as possible, within the limitations of social distancing, many of our concerts will be repeated. This has also allowed us a certain amount of flexibility with regard to concert start times, so people may choose to attend an early evening concert and then go on to dinner, or come and enjoy some post-dinner music with us!

We’ve programmed some fabulous music and musicians in this our fifth year: Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir CBE is our Featured Living Composer and her music will be performed by Albion Quartet, the Hertfordshire Festival Orchestra, and Chloē Hanslip and Danny Driver. Inventor of the string quartet Joseph Haydn, who has a special connection with Hertfordshire, is celebrated in Albion Quartet’s opening concert, and we’re also featuring music by Pärt, Walton, Sibelius, Bartok, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Mozart and James Francis Brown. Pianist Florian Mitrea will also give the world premiere of a work by Alan Mills.

It’s not just classical music traditionally presented (although there’s plenty of that, and no apologies for it!). We’re delighted to welcome back the exuberant ZRI, who will mash classical music with gypsy and klezmer styles in a performance at McMullen’s Brewery in Hertford. Recorder ensemble Fontanella present a themed programme based around the year 1670, a period in musical history which is strangely parallel to our own times. The concert is also a celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Friends Meeting House in Hertford, which has been in continuous use since it was founded.

Alongside the music, we have education and outreach projects – masterclasses with Chloe Hanslip at Queenswood School, and Music in Mind with members of Orchestra of the Swan, bringing music to people with dementia in selected care homes throughout the county. The irrepressible “virtuoso of the arts” Matthew Sharp weaves bewitching words and magical music in an enthralling afternoon of storytelling for younger children and their families, and there’s even an opportunity to explore historic Hertford on a guided walk.

Basically shed-loads of stuff – and really good stuff!

Since the Festival began – the initial germ of the idea coming to me back in 2015 – we’ve welcomed around 3000 people to concerts in Hertford and Hertfordshire, given education and performance opportunities to around 500 younger people (schoolchildren as well as conservatoire-level students) and raised something like £150,000 in external funds and Box Office revenue. Raising that sort of money for music is incredibly hard work as anyone who’s ever tried will know, taking hours of your life that could be spent doing vastly more enjoyable things….

The money that we’ve raised has gone directly into the music economy via paying our artists – about £75,000 on musician’s fees alone, and we pay at a decent rate –  plus all the other elements of the musical food chain, including commissions, hire of copyright materials, piano tuners, keyboard hire, sound and lighting equipment, etc., etc. The pandemic hit musicians and the musical food chain hard, and it feels especially important to be breathing life back into the industry through our activities this June.

Where that money certainly isn’t going is into my back pocket, nor that of my co-Artistic Director. We’ve also got a very hard-working board of trustees, because we’re now properly formalised as a charity, plus our FOH team who also do it for the love of music.

Why on earth would anyone do this?!

I have asked myself that question many times, not least as so many areas of running a Festival are things for which I’ve had absolutely no training, experience nor aptitude and I’m already pretty busy with my main work as a conductor and producer. But, when I read my social media newsfeeds, or see classical music mentioned in the national press, it’s too often report after report about cuts in music education and how music is being marginalised. Or how to make it ‘relevant’. Or how it’s seen as for only posh people…. You don’t need me to go on because it’s jaw-clenchingly boring to do so, and moaning is too easy and the time could be better spent doing something about it.

What I and my colleagues at HFoM are trying to do, albeit in a nascent way which needs constant refinement, is simply to present amazing music in appropriate spaces that heighten the audience experience, plus open out opportunities for young people, and try to buck the above trend. As a colleague of mine once said to me, we are attempting to act as incubators of this amazing art form and when the day finally comes and politicians actually read the gazillions of studies that show how music helps people in so many ways and fund it again, someone can buy us all a pint.

Until then, if anyone fancies coming along and helping us continue beyond this year, we have tickets to sell! Hertford is only 20 miles from by central London, easily accessible by road and rail, and has a good selection of shops and eateries with attractive countryside nearby. It will be light well into the evening, hopefully sunny and warm too. Why not come and join us?

Hertfordshire Festival of Music runs from 4-10 June 2021. This year’s Principal Artist is violinist Chloë Hanslip, who will be giving masterclasses and performances during the festival. Full programme of events

Tom Hammond is co-Artistic Director of Hertfordshire Festival of Music, and a conductor and record producer.

www.hertsmusicfest.org.uk

Meet the Artist interview with Tom Hammond

Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM) takes place from Thursday 4th to Friday 10th of June. Postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, HFoM 2021 is particularly special as for many people it will be the first time they have enjoyed live music in over a year.

Now in its fifth edition, Hertfordshire Festival of Music has grown rapidly from a small weekend event to a major summer celebration of classical music, based in and around the attractive historic county town of Hertford.

An established part of the summer classical music calendar, under the direction and vision of co-Artistic Directors conductor Tom Hammond and composer James Francis Brown, HFoM is now one of the UK’s major music festivals, featuring international artists and ensembles alongside innovative outreach and educational projects. This
year’s Festival showcases a diverse range of artists and music.

HFoM is delighted to present prodigiously talented violinist Chloë Hanslip as this year’s Principal Artist. Praised for her “warmth and clarity” and “simply spellbinding” playing, Chloë Hanslip (b. 1987) has already established herself as an artist of distinction on the international stage.  During this year’s Festival, Chloë will perform as a soloist with the Hertfordshire Festival Orchestra in music by Pärt and Sibelius. She will also give two recitals with pianist Danny Driver and masterclasses at Queenswood School in partnership with Future Talent.

Judith Weir, CBE, is this year’s Featured Living Composer. Appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 2014, Weir’s richly communicative music is “consistently imaginative” and “genuinely ravishing” (Tom Service, The Guardian). Festival audiences will be able to enjoy performances of Judith’s music as well as gain insights into her creative life in an “in conversation” event with HFoM Artistic Directors Tom Hammond and James Francis Brown.

HFoM 2020 featured Artists/Ensembles:

  • Violinist Chloë Hanslip (“…wholly infectious conviction, spontaneity and panache… superbly accomplished performances…” Gramophone)
  • Pianist Danny Driver (“….a delight to hear performances as radiant as these” Seen & Heard International)
  • Albion Quartet (“The playing, by the excellent Albion, is masterly in its vividness, freedom and sensitivity” Sunday Times)
  • Matthew Sharp, cello/voice (“extraordinary cellist, virile baritone and compelling actor” Daily Telegraph)
  • Fontanella Recorder Consort (“Such beautiful playing, fabulous ensemble…what’s not to like?” Frome Concerts Group)
  • Pianist Florian Mitrea (“a mixture of phenomenal technique and ravishing musical intelligence” Cambridge Independent)
  • Hertfordshire Festival Orchestra, conducted by Tom Hammond
    ZRI (“unique and endlessly captivating…combining the raucous energy of an impromptu pub session with the style and sophistication of the concert hall” – Cambridge Music Festival)
  • Tom Hammond, conductor (“A serious contender for most promising maestro of his generation.” Musical Opinion

The Festival opens with two concerts by Albion Quartet which celebrate Hertfordshire’s ‘Haydn Connection’ (read more here) as well as showcasing music by Judith Weir, CBE.

In addition to more traditional concert settings, ZRI will play an informal “brewhouse session” at McMullen’s Brewery in Hertford, and there will also be an opportunity to watch a full concert orchestra at work in a “relaxed rehearsal” with the HFoM Festival Orchestra. 

From talks and guided walks to storytelling events for children with “virtuoso of the arts”, cellist and actor Matthew Sharp, a celebration of the Friends’ Meeting House in Hertford (the oldest still in use) and a festival finale including two of Beethoven’s best-loved sonatas for violin and piano, Hertfordshire Festival of Music brings together some of the finest international musicians in a varied range of creative and imaginative programmes. It promises to be a delicious, generous feast for music lovers who have been bereft of live music over the past year. 


Hertford is just over twenty miles from central London, easy to get to by rail and road but nestled in the beautiful countryside of the Lea Valley. Concerts generally take place within a ten minute stroll of the town’s centre, which boasts excellent restaurants, many independent shops and accommodation.

Since its launch in 2016, the Festival has presented concerts that have inspired extraordinary audience responses to artists such as Tasmin Little OBE, Dame Emma Kirkby, Stephen Hough CBE, Steven Isserlis CBE, the Carducci Quartet, the Galliard Ensemble and The Prince Consort. HFoM is fortunate to receive major support from Arts Council England and a number of charitable trusts and foundations, county, district and town councils, while a growing Friends Scheme allows individuals to play an important role in supporting the Festival and furthering its scope and potential.

The Festival offers affordable ticket prices, multi-event discounts, some free events, and a ticket scheme for under 18s and those in full-time education. The organisers have gone to every length to ensure that all venues are COVID-secure for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of audiences, performers and Festival staff.

HFoM exists to celebrate and nurture exceptional music-making, featuring some of the world’s finest performers. The Festival also supports professional and young musicians from Hertfordshire, presents fascinating music by living composers and devises major, innovative projects for education and participation.

Partner organisations: Queenswood School, Hertfordshire Music Service, Mudlarks Garden Café, Benslow Music Trust, Future Talent

Funders and supporters: Longmores Solicitors, Queenswood School, Handelsbanken, Harpenden Music Foundation, East Herts District Council, Hertford Town Council and Herts County Council, McMullen Brewing and Pubs.

HFoM is grateful to Arts Council England for its generous support of the Festival for 2021 and 2022.

Website: www.hertsmusicfest.org.uk
Twitter: @HertMusicFest
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hertsmusicfest/
Registered Charity Number 1175716

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Conductor and festival director Tom Hammond thinks we should all bother with music. In this guest post, he explains why and previews this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music.

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I’m writing this less than two weeks before the opening of the 2019 Hertfordshire Festival of Music (HFoM), with the sweaty brow of the accidental concert promoter desperately hoping to see more tickets flying off the shelves.

We’ve programmed some fabulous music and musicians in this our fourth year: Fauré, Haydn, Schumann, Ravel, Mozart….with Steven Isserlis, Orchestra of the Swan, Anthony Marwood, Clare Hammond, the Carducci Quartet, to name only a few.

It’s not just classical music traditionally presented (although there’s some of that, and no apologies for it!) with two performances from the effervescent ZRI mashing Brahms with klezmer and gypsy styles plus their need live-to-film performance Adventures with Charlie Chaplin, an amazing jazz trio in a magical venue, and even a guided visit to Haydn’s summer holiday home when he was here in 1791. Plus three Featured Living Composers (Peter Fribbins, Alan Mills, James Francis Brown) and three major outreach projects involving more than 200 young people. Basically shed-loads of stuff, and really good stuff!

Since the Festival began – the initial germ of the idea coming to me back in 2015 – we’ve welcomed around 2,500 people to concerts in Hertford and Hertfordshire, given education and performance opportunities to around 500 younger people (schoolchildren as well as conservatoire level students) and raised something like £150,000 in external funds and Box Office revenue. Raising that sort of money for music is incredibly hard work as anyone who’s ever tried will know, taking hours of your life that could be spent doing vastly more enjoyable things….

The money that we’ve raised has gone directly into the music economy via paying our artists – about £75,000 on musician’s fees alone, and we pay at a decent rate –  plus all the other elements of the musical food chain, including commissions, hire of copyright materials, piano tuners, keyboard hire, sound and lighting equipment, etc., etc. Where that money certainly isn’t going is into my back pocket, nor that of my co-Artistic Director. We’ve also got a very hard-working board of trustees, because we’re now properly formalised as a charity, plus our FOH team who also do it for the love of music.

And why on earth would anyone do this?!

I have asked myself that question many times, not least as so many areas of running a Festival are things for which I’ve had absolutely no training, experience or aptitude and I’m already pretty busy with my main work as a conductor and producer. But, when I read my social media newsfeeds, or see classical music mentioned in the national media, it’s too often report after report about cuts in music education and how music is being marginalised. Or how to make it ‘relevant’. Or how it’s seen as for only posh people…. You don’t need me to go on because it’s jaw-clenchingly boring to do so, and moaning is too easy and the time could be better spent doing something about it.

What I and my colleagues at HFoM are trying to do, albeit in a nascent way which needs constant refinement, is simply put amazing music on in appropriate spaces that heighten the audience experience, plus open out opportunities for young people, and try to buck the above trend. As a colleague of mine once said to me, we are attempting to act as incubators of this amazing art form and when the day finally comes and politicians actually read the gazillions of studies that show how music helps people in so many ways and fund it again, someone can buy us all a pint.

Until then, if anyone fancies coming along and helping us continue beyond this year we have plenty of tickets left to sell. With only two exceptions, you can walk to all our performances in less than twenty minutes from train stations, all of which are well-served in and out of London. It will be light well into the evening, hopefully sunny and warm too. Tickets are not expensive, indeed some events are totally free, many offer £5 seats for anyone in full-time education, and they are in nice places with good pubs, restaurants and countryside nearby.

Hertfordshire Festival of Music runs from Thursday 13 to Sunday 23 June 2019. This year’s principal artist is cellist Steven Isserlis who will be giving masterclasses and performances during the festival. Full programme of events

Tom Hammond is co-Artistic Director of Hertfordshire Festival of Music, and a conductor and record producer.

www.hertsmusicfest.org.uk

Meet the Artist interview with Tom Hammond

Conductor, recording  producer and Artistic Director of the Hertfordshire Festival of Music Tom Hammond interviews Stephen Hough CBE, who this year is the Festival’s Principal Artist and Featured Living Composer – plus a cycle of his oil paintings will be on display at Hertford Theatre during the duration of the Festival (June 10-16).

Stephen, have you ever done an interview about your paintings that hasn’t referenced music, or the piano?
No I haven’t. In fact I’ve very rarely spoken about my painting, in speech or in print.
Do you remember a day when you put paint onto a canvas for the first time, and thought “Now, I’m a painter”?
I haven’t really thought in those terms. My painting is something very private, partly because it’s the most sensual thing I do artistically. Playing the piano is sounds in the air, writing music or words is marks on a page, but painting is dirty, physical, earthy – and tangible/present. I can look at what I’ve done and show it to someone. It exists. And it can be destroyed … gone for ever.
Can you describe your processes? What sort of paints, canvases, brush techniques, textures, etc.?
I’ve used mainly acrylics in the past but recently I’ve fallen in love with domestic gloss paint. Its liquidity and the vibrancy of the colours. I like to mix other things in with the paint – grit, sand, shredded paper etc. I use a palette knife mostly but also brushes. And fingers, but with surgical gloves!
When a painting is framed and/or hung, do you step back and think ‘finished’, or do you look at a canvas later and think ‘wish I’d done something slightly differently’?
I think with abstract art in particular it’s never finished. That’s one of its fascinations. It’s an improvisation like jazz. When is a riff or a solo finished?
Will you be nervous about people’s reaction to seeing one of your paintings?
The first time was hard – like taking off my clothes in front of strangers! And any time when someone else is in a position of judgement it is an emotional risk …
 
Is the process of painting cathartic, or stressful?
Mainly cathartic, though not relaxing. I get very excited and energized when I paint.
You’ve probably collected more air miles than Phileas Fogg; do you take paintings with you when you’re working in, Asia, Australia, South America…..?
In the past I tried doing small pieces in hotel rooms. But it’s pretty frustrating, and now I’m painting bigger works it’s impossible.
What was the last painting or other purely visual art that you saw that spiritually moved you, and can you explain why?
I loved the recent show at Tate Britain – All Too Human. I’m moved spiritually by the fragility of human life portrayed in art, not by angels and altarpieces. Christ in glory doesn’t move me; Christ as everyman suffering does.
In one hundred years time, would you like to be remembered for your paintings?
I honestly can’t think about that. But the indestructibility of paint perhaps means that when CDs are faded the globs on canvas which have avoided the landfill might still be hanging in there somewhere.

Stephen Hough will be in residence and involved in four events on June 10 and 11 at this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music. Book online, by telephone or in person. Full details here
Image: ‘Dappled Things’ by Stephen Hough