Recent Festivals: Music & images

A look back at recent festival & events – performing through the pandemic

2022:  Last Year in Kent

Much as we hoped to return to the pre-Covid home of the International Musique-Cordale Festival in Seillans & le Pays de Fayence in Provence in summer 2022, it still could not happen. So, as in 2020 & 2021, announces a 2022 series of concerts in Kent, GB, including our mini-festival in Faversham, Newnham & Doddington.
The successful and full December 2021 concert in Kent had happened just in time, while we were still safe from Omicron. Since then, we have staged only summer events including the summer mini-festival, also took place in England in 2021 and 2022 because of the pandemic. For the 3rd successive year, we were prevented from staging a full International Festival & Academy in Provence, France. By the time we received encouragement to return, it was already too late to organise all the necessary travel, accommodation and venues by the point in the Spring when the idea even began to seem feasible again).
HERE IS THE SUMMER 2022 Programme that DID happen instead (details HERE)
including:  a special concert for the Queen’s Jubilee on 4 June & a full exciting
series of
annual Summer Festival Concerts, 28 July – 3 August 2022
Newnham, Faversham & Doddington Place Gardens in Kent, GB
  PROGRAMME SUMMARY: summer 2022 of all 9 Musique-Cordiale Summer CONCERTS 2022:
See detailed PROGRAMME & Online BOX OFFICE here


 4 June 2022: Doddington Place Gardens Jubilee Proms concert   FESTIVAL:
28 July 2022
Newnham church 6:30PM Free Music & Drinks for supporters & locals
29 July 2022Assembly Rooms, Faversham 7PM Opening Festival Concert: Handel concerti & Haydn symphony
30 July 2022:
Assembly Rooms, Faversham 7PM Song Recital: tenor, soprano & cello
31 July 2022
    3pm: Doddington Church 3PM Bach & Vaughan Williams – with choir
    5:30pm: Doddington Place Gardens: Swing & Jazz trio
    7pm: Doddington Place Gardens 7PM Handel, Bach, Telemann, Krommer & Haydn
1 August 2022:
Assembly Rooms, Faversham 7PM Accordion & Friends 2 August 2022: Assembly Rooms, Faversham 7PM Glorious Chamber Music
3 August 2022:  Doddington Place Gardens 7PM Rossini – Petite Messe Solenelle,”opera” with soloists & choir

Summer 2022 Concerts in Faversham Assembly Rooms & Doddington Place Gardens – began with commemorative music for the Queen’s Jubilee on 4 June. Our annual mini-festival, Musique-Cordiale in Kent, launched in Faversham on 29 July 2022 with a charming concert of orchestral music and concluded, after a series that featured an exciting variety of choral, orchestral, chamber and jazz concerts, with:

FESTIVAL 2022: Gioachino Rossini’Petite Messe Solenelle (Little solemn mass)…

This beautiful choral work (not notably little or solemn, actually) constituted the closing festival concert on 3 August, directed by Graham Ross, director of music at Clare College, Cambridge, with soloists Dima Bawab (soprano, over from Paris), Claire Barnett-Jones (alto), Aidan Coburn (tenor) & Johnny Herford (bass), accompanied by piano & accordion (Ben de Souza), performed in Doddington Place Gardens – with a little amplification and cover for performers.

Watch video HERE of Claire Barnett-Jones & the Musique-Cordiale choir, closing the final Rossini choral concert in 2022).

Other concerts featured an exciting array of other orchestral, chamber, choral & vocal works… plus a little jazz. See our Summer Programme & Box Office 2022 page for details of all our exciting & varied summer concerts in Kent in 2022)

2022 Festival Choir information HERE

We also staged a one-off pre-festival event in Doddington Place Gardens in 2022

The Musique-Cordiale orchestra with soloists, conducted by Graham Ross, also performed

in a special commemorative concert at 7PM on 4 June 2022 to
celebrate the 70th Jubilee of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II

This included a programme of rousing music – classical favourites a la “last Night of the Proms” + Dambusters, Mozart, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Puccini, Parry & more…),
preceded at 5:30PM by our special
Swing & Jazz ensemble with Terry Seabrook (keyboard), Tristan Fry (drums) & Sean Law (double bass).
Programme HERE.

Frederick Long, bass, & Aidan Coburn, tenor, among soloists performing on 4 June 2022
with the Musique Cordiale Festival Orchestra, conductor Graham Ross


December 2021: winter concerts in Kent

Musique-Cordiale in Kent:
performed to a sold-out audience

Musique Cordiale Festival Choir & Ensemble, conductor Graham Ross
Vivaldi – Four Seasons

Emma Purslow, solo violin


+ Handel – Dixit Dominus

Helen Sotillo, soprano; Alexandra Osbourne, alto; Matthew Cooke, tenor; Benjamin Weiland, bass

The Assembly Rooms, Faversham Kent, GB        7PM, 4 December 2021.

BOX OFFICE: details & TICKETS available HERE NOW CLOSED for online + phone bookings
(Autumn choir enrolment now closed HERE)

Our box offices will reopen at Easter 2023.

As these videos illustrate, the show continued  in 2020-2022 after initial Pandemic lockdowns… and our events managed to retain something of the convivial  and musical feel of Musique-Cordiale – but on a different scale, in a more challenging climate… and without most of our usual pan-European musicians & audiences.
   Vivaldi:  Four Seasons
Final notes of closing Concert, 4 August 2021, Musique-Cordiale in Kent: Emma Purslow, violin, Musique-Cordiale Festival Ensemble, conductor Graham Ross,
Doddington Place Gardens, Kent, GB

Summer 2021

Programme 29 July – 4 August 2021
(7 concerts in Kent, GB)

The summer festival (reduced but exciting and mostly open-air) took place in GB instead of France this year

Organising a 2-week annual international festival in Provence always took months of planning and lead-time (it will be slightly shorter in 2023). Each year since 2005, we have arranged venues, travel & accommodation, enrolled singers, recruited and transported musicians with instruments and sometimes opera sets and costumes, booked soloists, ordered music, prepared posters, banners and printed programmes as well as setting everything up on our website. We manage everything from catering to lighting and ticketing to the details of a diverse programme that excites performers and audiences alike. And we budget early to achieve this and to try to fund what we plan.

With the ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic situation in Europe in 2020 and 2021 – and restrictions on travel as well as a vaccination schedule that could not reach everyone for a while, we realised (in mid-April 2020, sometime after our usual Easter Box Office opening) that we had, quite simply, run out of time to produce a full festival 2020 in the Pays de Fayence that summer. And even if we did, we could not insure it or be confident that our audiences would flock from all over Europe to the beautiful venues where we usually perform musical delights, not only in vineyards and the Fayence amphitheatre but also in closely-packed medieval churches. SO… the Festival shrank and also moved to Kent GB pro tem! And it was just as well as, in the end, we would not have been allowed to put on the festival in France in August 2020 – or in 2021 – at the time we usually have. And the logistics (closed ports and airports, travel restrictions, covid passes, infection rates) meant that we could not have brought our musicians and singers from all over Europe to Provence anyway. Even in Britain, we had to accept (though many tried till the last moment) that non-UK-based musicians and audiences simple could not participate. And we still had to turn away recently-infected people and exercise special care and social distancing. Indeed, most concerts have had to take place out-of-doors and we could not accommodate singers as compactly (or affordably) as usual. But we DID manage to dodge the English weather. We put on a single concert (free-no box office) in September 2020 … and successfully staged a shortened week-long series of 7 summer Concerts in 2021 (+ rehearsals, outdoor catering and conviviality). This proved a great success, reaching new audiences and attracting new choir and orchestra members as well as providing an outlet, at least, for many of our longer-standing musicians and singers though WE MISSED OUR FRENCH & PAN-EUROPEAN AUDIENCES. But, unlike so many other festivals and concert series, our SHOW DUID GO ON, maintaining our uninterrupted 17-year record of successful and popular festivals of classical and choral music. Our international festival in Provence, of the kind we have proudly offered in the past, was this year still yet within our reach. But everyone who could come to Kent, both in summer and in December 2021, was happy – and we are happy to have reached new music-starved appreciative audiences – to whom we also plan to be loyal in future!
   Mozart REQUIEM, 31 July 2021, Musique Cordiale Festival Ensemble & choir, 31 July 2021,
Doddington Place Gardens, Kent, GB


Covid-19 again meant that concerts in England in 2021 & 2022 were possible only in Britain:

 Musique-Cordiale’s Festival in the beautiful Kent Downs (an inviting ambience though not quite so reliably warm and dry in summer as Provence} Doddington Place Gardens and lovely acoustic churches

We missed our loyal supporters in France but we are trying to be positive and creative at a time of great challenge for culture and music. We are so pleased that some of you, based in Britain, could join us for our concerts in 2020-22, in Kent, GB and that we have attracted new enthusiastic audiences in Kent (see feature article HERE) … and, with luck, something may prove viable in France again in summer 2023 too.

In 2021 and 2022, we decided to do what we thought we COULD manage, carefully and cautiously and mainly out-of-doors, but to do it in ways that retain the high musical and aesthetic standards for which Musique Cordiale has become known. And we succeeded! We also hoped it could still be friendly and convivial, incorporating a variety of lovely music in enchanting settings, along with our traditional mix of music, wine, food and good humour -and so it proved! So, in both these summers, it took place in the Kent Downland countryside in England and was based in the enchanting Doddington Place Gardens and, with suitable social distancing, in nearby indoor churches and the Faversham Assembly Rooms.  We hoped that, at least, a few singers and players could join us from France, Holland, Germany and Switzerland – along with some of our European supporters. But, in the end, Covid travel rules prevented this both in the summer and again for our winter events in Faversham. We so hope that crossing La Manche will not prove so challenging in 2023!
2021 Programme & Repertoire: The 7-day summer series included a performance of the MOZART REQUIEM with choir, orchestral ensemble & exciting young soloists under the baton of Graham Ross, director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge with reduced orchestra – and with Rebecca Taylor at the keyboard. The concerts ended with a favourite and popular choral piece, the VIVALDI GLORIA, followed by a performance of the Vivaldi Four Seasons. At Graham Ross’ suggestion, the choir’ a cappella repertoire included the RUTTER BIRTHDAY MADRIGALS, with piano and double bass, which are romantic and fun and fit well to the season and ambience. Other favourites include are Lay a Garland (Pearsall), Richte Mich Gott (Mendelssohn). The 2021 concert Programme is HERE (online BOX OFFICE)
But now…. we invite you to renew your subscriptions. (we’re offering free memberships in 2023 to young or under-employed musicians). And if you are a good experienced singer, please consider joining our choir. See details HERE (we welcome new singers especially and hope to re-engage more of our pan-European talent who have not been able to sing and play with us during the pandemic). Please join our mailing-list to ensure that you receive up-to-date information See contact us. If you would like to join or re-join the Musique-Cordiale CHOIR this summer, please click HERE (enrolment of good and experienced singers).

Looking back:…2020 when the pandemic hit music and performance

International Festival –  planned Programme 2020
in the hills behind the Mediterranean.

concerts 1 -15 August 2020 (annulé) 2020 would have been the 16th annual International Festival in the Pays de Fayence

2020 Festival Programme to be announced in late March, including Brahms choral works with soloists, choir & ensemble, Mahler Symphony, Baroque Concert, Recitals & Chamber Music, soirées Jazz, evening and lunch-time concerts, opera aria. The 2019 festival featured 18 varied events – symphony concerts conducted by James Lowe and other orchestral works, chamber music, recitals, opera, choral, jazz, vocal, folk & a little nostalgic rock in beautiful warm surroundings in Provence, France. 2019 festival programme here.2020 concert programme  cancelled!

2020 was terribly disappointing (and was also a huge financial headache) but it was not a complete washout

Brahms happened en pleine aire in a time of Covid, 2020.
Sadly, no festival was possible in the Pays de Fayence in 2020 for the first time in 16 years. We did manage a little 2-musician recital in Seillans in August and, on 13 September 2020, we proudly staged an out-of-door, socially-distanced concert – in improbably-blazing sunshine  after 2 other sunny rehearsal days – with only UK-based singers (both soloists and Festival choir members) plus 4 familiar hands on a keyboard and our redoubtable conductor, Graham Ross, performing one major work intended for the final festival concert a month earlier. Here is a little taste of the Brahms Requiem, sung (without our orchestra) on a sunny but windy Sunday afternoon in lovely Doddington Place Gardens in Kent, GB. These are just 2 movements of the 7 that were performed.
Frederick Long, bass (in this clip), Emily Vine (in a 2nd video below), soprano, Graham Ross, conductor, Rebecca Taylor & Richard Leach, pianists in the original version of Brahms Requiem with the Musique-Cordiale Festival choir (minus its French & German singers). Sad only that Covid precautions meant we couldn’t invite a larger audience to this memorable performance in a perfect (almost Provencal) setting especially after the
cancellation of the 2020 Festival in Seillans or the Pays de Fayence, France

Les Jeunes Choristes de Musique Cordiale

En 2018, Musique Cordiale a également rejoint la communauté locale du Var, offrant des opportunités de participer dans Les Jeunes Choristes de Musique Cordiale.
En 2019, nous avons de nouveau invité les JEUNES CHANTEURS (âgés de 6 à 14 ans): à rejoindre nos cours GRATUITS. pour les enfants de la région qui apprennent à expérimenter le chant en plusieurs parties dans quatre langues différentes

Before 2020: our normal pre-pandemic pattern

The annual international festival in Provence + Musical events throughout the year in Britain & France

Festival Choir (and choral academy): singing major choral works & more

In 2019, the big choral work was Handel’s SAUL and in 2018, it was Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons),
(sung with the Festival Orchestra & soloists) & a cappella works included the Frank Martin Mass and motels from Tallis to Lauridsen, directed by Graham Ross in the beautiful acoustic churches and chapels of the “villes perchées”‘ of the Pays de Fayence, France. AIMEZ-VOUS BRAHMS? In 2020 the choir “stage”, based in beautiful Seillans, was intended to run from 7-16 August, featuring this year’s major choral works (Johannes Brahms, Requiem, op 45 – Ein deutches Requiem, nach Worten der Heiligen Schriff – sung in German, + Brahms Liebeslieder , op 52 + Brahms Geistliches Lied), and a diverse collection of accompanied and a cappella songs + Handel’s Dixit Dominus.
JOIN & SING in future festivals! Invitation to new & returning singers: enrolment for good and experienced singers from all over Europe is now closed.
Please return to join/re-join for future events to be announced including the summer Festival Choir:  8 days of rehearsals and performances in August.
 Each year, we also invite singers to join the choir for 3 days of autumn rehearsals and concerts (see below). Usually in November, we have held this in September in 2020 so that it could be entirely out-of-doors and socially-distanced, both for rehearsals & performance but also for providing food and drink for our participants. It was a rare opportunity for people to sing in 2020

Festival Orchestra & orchestra academy

The Festival orchestra consists of professional musicians from across Europe and elsewhere, brought together each summer for up to 2 weeks of rehearsal and performance. In addition to accompanying the choir and vocal soloists in major choral works, the orchestra is the mainstay of other major symphony concerts during the festival and its members also perform in chamber music, quintets and quartets and in recitals. They also act as tutors to our Academy students who consist of 6-8 talented young people from music colleges and conservatories who sit beside professionals leading sections of the orchestra. The students also perform in an Academy chamber concert together. It is hoped that a singing Academy may be a festival feature in future.

The festival also features a selection of Jazz events with invited European artists, usually performing out of doors and, in other years we staged exciting operas too

ovation for opera: Musique Cordiale’s Barber at Saint Raphael