It was a great pleasure to perform with the Milton Keynes Symphony Orchestra the Vaughan Williams Oxford Elegy: it is the most haunting piece and somehow, to do it within the venerable walls of Dorchester Abbey, added to its reverberations. I am so proud to have been involved in the English Music Festival and wish it all success for a burgeoning future.
Of the concerts we were able to attend, the Britten Canticles were the best the concert I've been to in quite a while. Thrillingly superb performances and a wonderful chance to hear them all at one go. I think Abraham and Isaac is one of his finest works and it was intensely moving on this occasion ... The realising of your vision fills me with admiration and we both thank you for the courage to see it through and, what's more, to continue next year ...
Christopher and Hilary Finzi
Without question, the highlight of my musical life in 2006 --- certainly as a listener --- was The English Music Festival held in and around Dorchester-on-Thames in October. Not only was it superbly organised, but it was held in utterly appropriate settings, such as Dorchester Abbey. The standard of the performances that I attended was of the highest order, whether in recitals, choral or orchestral concerts. Perhaps most importantly, it provided for me, and other music lovers, a unique opportunity to hear a range of classical music produced over the centuries by inhabitants of this country, some of which is rarely if ever heard and yet is almost all of high quality and, in some cases, is genuinely first rate. My immediate response to the Festival was that it must become a regular --- even annual --- event, for this wonderful musical heritage is deserving of the kind of exposure and support which other branches of our artistic life receive. The inaugural English Music Festival provided an excellent initial celebration of this rich inheritance.
This is the difference between us – some of us only dream of such events: you [Em] made it happen. If you never organised anything else you would have a most wonderful achievement to look back on. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can say absolutely truthfully that the festival was one of the main highlights of my entire life. Each event was without exception (and I only missed one) an outstanding treat. The standard of music making seemed to me of a very high order, and it was clear that the performers themselves appreciated the music as much as we did.
It was a great pleasure to work with Em Marshall for her new initiative, The English Music Festival. There is so much to perform and celebrate in British music of many ages, and her emphasis on the wealth of sometimes neglected 20th Century music, whilst also championing older music and contemporary composers is admirable, necessary and deserving of generous support. The music of all these periods is a treasure trove to be proud of and I wish her all the best for many future festivals. She is playing a vital role in the music fabric of this country.
I was really delighted to attend the English Music Festival at Dorchester-on-Thames last week. This was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. It was an extraordinary event - not only to hear old favourites like Holst but also to be introduced to some new (to me) and superb English composers. The music making was out of this world and the several venues impressive.
Sir Rowland Whitehead BT
The English Music Festival is a marvellous enterprise and it is long overdue. It deserves widespread support and, with that, will doubtless become an important part of our cultural life.
Julian Lloyd webber
There is such a wealth of great English music that it is vital that the English Music Festival continues to flourish. In the past we have been shy about trumpeting our English music heritage, and have neglected great swathes of the repertory, making it all the more important that such a festival offers the chance to unearth and explore some of the hidden riches. Long may it continue to do so.
The English Music Festival was quite the best and finest week's holiday we have ever experienced...
The English Music Festival was a feast of exceptional music-making and an absolute joy to attend. Works which have unjustly lain dormant for years were brought magically to life in first-class performances, a reminder of how foolish we've been in neglecting music of such craftsmanship, variety and inventiveness. The Festival has to be seen as a turning-point in the fortunes of English music and deserves to go from strength to strength.
I am delighted to put on record my admiration for the 2006 inaugural English Music Festival and the achievements of its founder, Em Marshall. English music – particularly that of the 19th and 20th centuries – has been shamefully neglected by promoters and broadcasters in this country since the Second World War. At a time when we are being urged by politicians of all parties to celebrate our national cultural heritage, the role of music should surely be central. BBC Radio 3, under its Controller Roger Wright, has in recent years has begun to return to its Reithian traditions of supporting English music after years of neglect, but most concert promoters in this country continue to focus on a very small number of works by an even smaller number of composers. Em Marshall has a crusading spirit which she translated into the organisation of The English Music Festival, providing an opportunity for the public to hear performances of astonishing quality and diversity. In the evocative surroundings of Dorchester Abbey, much music which has had few professional performances was revealed to be beautiful, powerful and deeply communicative by a distinguished cast of musicians. It would be a tragedy if this Festival did not become a regular event and I strongly urge all those who value our national identity and culture to support it in every way possible. In this country we are often poor at celebrating our successes and quick to wallow in failure; this Festival was a genuine success and it must be repeated.