2011 Festival rehearsal (photo Bruce Edwards)

If you had popped into the Discovery Centre at lunchtime one Thursday in April last year, you would have caught a group of enthusiastic eight year olds from St Bede School taking part in an informal musical sharing with the London Bridge Ensemble. The children’s feedback showed they were fascinated by the music the Ensemble performed, and in particular by Ivan Ludlow, the Ensemble’s baritone. But in two short days leading up to the sharing, they had also created their own piece (incorporating the professional musicians too), which they performed at the sharing with great gusto and not a little skill.

This was an inspiring curtain raiser to the Festival, which comprised six concerts and a masterclass, as well as the school event. Various themes inspired the programming – in particular, an exploration of works by those lions of the chamber music repertoire, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, juxtaposing these with the colourful Romantic world of Samuel Barber.

2011 masterclass (photo Bruce Edwards)

Most concerts took place in the friendly setting of the Discovery Centre. A late night concert was held in the intimate and atmospheric St Lawrence Church and on the night of the royal wedding, St Paul’s Church also hosted a very well attended performance.

The 2011 Festival enjoyed a record number of attenders and their enthusiasm was unmistakable. Click here for a summary of the 2011 programme.