23 Apr

2018 Presteigne Festival | Online booking now open

Presteigne Festival
23-28 August 2018

The 2018 Presteigne Festival was launched on 23 April – a bright and varied programme of inspiring Arts events for an ever-widening Festival audience.

This year, the programming focus is on Baltic music, with major works by Pēteris Vasks, Arvo Pärt and Raminta Šerkšnytė marking the centenaries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania becoming independent republics.

The Festival continues to explore British contemporary music, featuring commissions from Martin Butler (composer-in-residence), Huw Watkins, David Bednall, Gareth Moorcraft, Cydonie Banting and Manos Charalabopoulos (winner of a Royal Philharmonic Society composition prize). There are also birthday tributes for two major British composers – the Festival’s President, Michael Berkeley in his 70th year and David Matthews in his 75th.

The Festival opens with the Welsh premiere of Joseph Phibbs’ exciting new chamber opera Juliana, based on Strindberg’s unsettling drama Miss Julie; this forms part of a Nordic strand which encompasses music, art workshops and the screening of three legendary Scandinavian movies.

The supporting programme is hugely varied – Welsh art with Peter Lord, Stephen Johnson on music, poet Gregory Leadbetter, Terry Victor’s one-man show Well Thumbed, music and literary talks, Open Studios, exhibitions and film.

The dazzling artist line-up includes Festival favourites – the Navarra Quartet, Huw Watkins and the Choir of Royal Holloway, together with some sensational performers appearing at Presteigne for the first time including virtuoso Latvian violinist Kristīne Balanas, fabulous British soprano Ruby Hughes and outstanding pianist Joseph Tong.

General online and postal booking is now open – book here

View or download the Festival Brochure here

24 Mar

2018 Presteigne Festival | Martin Butler composer-in-residence

Martin Butler has been announced as composer-in-residence at the 2018 Presteigne Festival.

Born in Romsey, Hampshire in 1960, Martin studied at Manchester University, the Royal Northern College of Music and Princeton University, USA. From 1998-99 he was composer-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He is currently Professor of Music at the University of Sussex.

Martin’s works are widely performed and broadcast both in the UK and abroad.  He has received commissions from, among others, the BBC Proms, the London Sinfonietta, the Schubert Ensemble and the Brighton, Cheltenham, Canterbury, Norfolk and Norwich, and Presteigne festivals. His  opera A Better Place was premiered by ENO in July 2001 and the same year, Two Rivers was premiered by the Oxford Bach Choir.

More recently he was Composer in Focus with the Brighton Philharmonic and remains pianist with the innovative improvising group, notes inegales and co-director of Club Inégales in London. Regular Presteigne Festival attenders will remember Martin for the wonderful Saxophone Concerto he wrote in 2009 for Australian virtuoso Amy Dickson.

He is currently hard at work on his new commission for piano and chamber orchestra, Concertante Dances, which he will premiere at the Presteigne Festival as piano soloist with the Festival Orchestra under artistic director George Vass at the final concert on Tuesday 28 August.


09 Dec

2018 London Fundraising Concert | Tuesday 30 January

We are delighted to announce that two artists, hugely popular with Presteigne Festival audiences, cellist Gemma Rosefield and pianist Tim Horton, will join forces for our London fundraising event on Tuesday 30 January 2018 at the beautiful London home of Bob and Elisabeth Boas in Mansfield Street close to Oxford Circus.

Our grateful thanks go to Bob and Elisabeth for the use of such a beautiful venue and to Gemma and Tim for offering such a fabulous and wide-ranging programme.

The concert opens and closes with two great cello sonatas of the twentieth century – Debussy’s beautifully compact sonata of 1915, written at the end of the great French composer’s life and Rachmaninov’s earlier bitter sweet Romantic masterpiece composed in 1901, when Rachmaninov was still living in Russia.

The programme is completed with contemporary composer James Francis Brown’s Shakespeare-based Prospero’s Isle, a work commissed by the Hampstead and Highgate Festival and first heard there in May 2006, performed by Gemma Rosefield (the dedicatee) and Gretel Dowdeswell.

Debussy Sonata for cello and piano (1915)
James Francis Brown Prospero’s Isle (2006)
Rachmaninov Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op 19

Artistic director George Vass will be on hand to talk about the 2018 Presteigne Festival programme and, after the concert, there will be an opportunity to chat with the artists over wine and canapés.

Booking details are available via this link

02 Sep

2017 Presteigne Festival reviews

Thank you so much for supporting the 2017 Presteigne Festival; it was a truly awe inspiring six days of superb musical performance, fantastic new commissions, amazing exhibitions and hugely entertaining talks on music, literature, film and the counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s.

Audiences have increased considerably over the last two years and this year the Festival sold over 81% of all available tickets, added to which we had fabulous sunshine every day and George Vass celebrated both his 60th birthday and 25 years as artistic director …

Press reviews of concert performances can be found by following the links below:

The Times – 30.8.17

The Birmingham Post I  [Festival Orchestra, Berkeley Ensemble, Sine Nomine Choir]

The Birmingham Post II [Tim Horton recital, Sine Nomine Choir]

The Hereford Times I   [Festival Orchestra, Leonore Trio]

The Hereford Times II  [Festival Orchestra with Sine Nomine Choir]

The Hereford Times III [Tim Horton recital]

The Hereford Times IV [Nightingale Quartet]

The Hereford Times V   [Festival Finale]

Classical Source  [Feature review of the Festival]



20 Aug

Box Office open longer hours from 21 August

With only four days until the opening night of the 2017 Festival, ticket sales have been better than ever before.

Events 12 and 17 have sold out and others are selling fast, so please book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Situated at the Assembly Rooms, Broad Street, Presteigne LD8 2AD, the Festival Box Office is open for telephone sales and personal callers. Please do not send Presteigne Festival mail to this address but instead use P O Box 30, Presteigne LD8 2WF

Presteigne Festival Box Office

2017 Presteigne Festival Box Office Opening Times

21 – 29  August
Daily, 10am – 5pm

Telephone 01544 267 800

16 Jul

Festival Box Office now open for telephone orders and personal callers

With less than six weeks until the opening night of the 2017 Festival, there is an expectant feeling of excitement in Presteigne. Nearly 50% of the tickets have been sold, so please book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Situated at the Assembly Rooms, Broad Street, Presteigne LD8 2AD, the Festival Box Office is now open for telephone sales and personal callers. Please do not send Presteigne Festival mail to this address but instead use P O Box 30, Presteigne LD8 2WF

2017 Presteigne Festival Box Office Opening Times

17 July – 19 August
Monday – Saturday, 11am – 2pm

21 – 29  August
Daily, 10am – 5pm

Telephone 01544 267 800

If you wish to book tickets out of Box Office hours, Online Booking is available here

14 Feb

2017 London Fundraising Concert | Wednesday 17 May

We are delighted to announce that two popular Presteigne Festival artists, violinist Sara Trickey and pianist Clare Hammond, join forces for our London fundraising event on Wednesday 17 May.











The programme features two great German violin sonatas – the dark-hued, intense Brahms D minor and one of Beethoven’s most popular works, the bright, uplifting ‘Spring’ sonata. Stravinsky makes an appearance in the shape of the joyous Suite Italienne, arrangements for violin and piano of movements from his delightful neo-classical ballet, Pulcinella.

The programme is completed with David Matthews’ Adonis, a work commissed by the Presteigne Festival and first performed at the 2007 Festival by Sara Trickey (the dedicatee) and Gretel Dowdeswell.

Beethoven Violin Sonata in F, Op 24 ‘Spring’
Stravinsky Suite Italienne

David Matthews Adonis, Op 105
Brahms Violin Sonata in D minor, Op 108

Artistic director George Vass will be on hand to introduce the 2017 Presteigne Festival programme and, after the concert, there will be an opportunity to chat with the artists over wine and canapés. Our grateful thanks go once again to Bob and Elisabeth Boas for allowing us to hold this event at their delightful central London home.

Booking details are available via this link

15 Nov

Friday Afternoons – Education Outreach at Presteigne

Friday 18th November at 3pm and 4.15pm
St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne


Our 2016 cross-border education initiative sees the Presteigne Festival working in partnership with Aldeburgh Music for the first time, bringing their Friday Afternoons singing project to the Welsh Marches.

Something of an innovation, Friday Afternoons began in 2013, originally to celebrate the centenary of British composer, Benjamin Britten. The programme aims to engage primary schoolchildren with contemporary music – Aldeburgh Music is committed to commissioning songs (for children’s voices and piano accompaniment) on an annual basis, creating a song bank of repertoire, complementing Britten’s own group of songs completed in 1935. Sheet music and teaching resources are made available for download, free of charge, for school use.







Pictured above, English composer Jonathan Dove’s commission for 2016 is a twelve-movement song cycle entitled Seasons and Charms.

The Presteigne Festival will extend and expand Aldeburgh Music’s resource by employing Fiona Evans, a specialist vocal animateur, to work in local primary schools; the resultant performances (accompanied by Susie Allan) take place on 18 November with approximately 160 children from five local primary schools taking part.

Admission is free, but please arrive early, as we expect a high demand for places.

22 Sep

Presteigne Festival Autumn Tour visits Birmingham, Swansea and Oxford

Our popular Autumn Tour takes to the road once more next month with a programme of music by two French giants – Poulenc and Dutilleux, and three contemporary British composers – Robert Saxton, Thomas Hyde and Ninfea Cruttwell Reade.

The concerts are to be undertaken by oboist James Turnbull with Royal Philharmonic Society award-winner, Clare Hammond. There is also a RPS connection with Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade (pictured below) who was the recipient of the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society/Presteigne Festival Alan Horne Memorial commission.

Dates are as follows, please click on links below for full details:

Friday 7 October at 1.10pm
Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TS
Telephone – 0121 414 7333

Sunday 9 October at 11.30am
Swansea International Festival
Great Hall, Bay Campus, Swansea University, Swansea SA1 8EN
Box Office –  01792 604900/604999

Friday 25 November at 7.30pm
Music at Oxford
Jaqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY
Box Office – 01865 244 806

Version 3





09 Sep

Critical acclaim for 2016 Presteigne Festival

The 2016 Presteigne Festival proved to be a great success both artistically and financially. With 80.2% of all tickets sold and seven of the 27 events completely sold out – the 34th Festival was more popular than ever with its audience.

The music programme featured no fewer than 37 works by living composers, including six specially commissioned pieces from Robert Saxton, Michael Berkeley, James Francis Brown, Adrian Williams and Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade.

The popular supporting programme included three exhibitions, showings of the Harry Palmer film trilogy, poetry, talks about art, literature and music, a one-man show and two local history based events .

Presteigne’s community spirit was also at an all-time high – the town hosted over 100 performers and composers during the six-day event.

To top everything, reviews have been wonderful:

Wales Arts Review
The Guardian
Hereford Times I
Hereford Times II
Hereford Times III
Hereford Times IV

PF2016 Hammond-Fest Orchestra 1








Clare Hammond (piano) rehearses with the Festival Orchestra under
George Vass (conductor) in St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne