After the success of the inaugural season of concerts arranged by the High Barnet Chamber Music Festival plans are already being drawn up for a repeat event next year.
Artistic director Joshua Ballance who founded the festival – seen above far right at the final concert – said he had been thrilled by the enthusiastic response for their ambitious programme.
“Two of the three concerts at the parish church were sold out, demonstrating there is a strong demand for high-quality chamber music in Barnet.
“We were keen to set out an interesting programme that placed staples from the repertoire alongside lesser-known but similarly wonderful music.
“I am delighted this aspect of the festival has been so warmly received.”
Joshua, who is currently studying for a doctorate in music analysis at Christ Church, Oxford, conducted the second concert, which was given by his ensemble Mad Song, and which was joined for the performance by the mezzo-soprano Anita Monserrat. (Photo by Ruari Paterson-Achenbach)
Music reviewer Mark Berry, writing for the Boulezian (https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2021/07/monserratmad-songballance-mahler-muller.html)
praised Balance for his initiative in organising and staging the festival when facing so many obstacles stemming from the Covid pandemic:
“To the (other) end of the Northern Line, to High Barnet (Chipping Barnet, if you prefer), for a wonderful concert in the inaugural season of the High Barnet Chamber Music Festival, conceived during lockdown by conductor and scholar Joshua Ballance. “
Here was a judicious mixture of known and—to me, at any rate—unknown, the known in new, chamber guise, arranged by Ballance and Webern (whose music features in Ballance’s doctoral study).”
The final concert (24.7.2021) was by the much-praised Mithras Trio who have built up a fast-growing reputation as one of the next generation’s most exciting piano trios. From left the right: Leo Popplewell, cello; Dominic Degavino, piano; Ionel Manciu, violin.
Joshua told the Barnet Society it had not been easy planning the festival at the height of the lockdown restrictions.
“The safety of our artists and audience was always front of mind, and as one of the earliest festivals to be returning to live concerts, the constantly changing Covid situation certainly contributed its share of difficulties.
“Nonetheless, we set out with the view that the disaster of the pandemic needed an optimistic, joyful response, and I think the concerts show that people all over Barnet share that view.”
He was full of praise for the support that the festival had received from the team at Parish Church of St John the Baptists.
Over the summer the festival organisers would be thinking ahead to next year’s festival.
One initiative Joshua is keen to develop is the festival’s outreach to local schools – and several music pupils at the final concert were full of praise for the Mithras Trio’s cellist, Leo Popplewell.
One possibility is to appoint a composer in residence with the festival, ideally a young composer who could work with local schools and help them achieve public participation.
“We are keen to expand our educational outreach with the launch of our student ambassador’s scheme at the start of the new academic year.