On 10 July, the Menuhin 100 Festival brought the academic year to a close, following ten days of extraordinary music-making and celebration.
The Festival opened on 1 July with a Gala Concert and fundraising dinner, which was attended by HRH Princess Alexandra and featured alumna and world-famous violinist Nicola Benedetti.
The opening programme included Elgar's Violin Sonata performed by Nicola Benedetti with Alexei Grynyuk as pianist, and Shostakovich's Five Pieces for Two Violins played with great poise and musicianship by one of the youngest pupils at the School Rose Gosney (10), with Nicola and Alexei. The concert finished with Bartόk's Divertimento for Strings performed by the senior orchestra with Nicola as leader, conducted by Director of Music, Malcolm Singer.
“We were thrilled with the launch of the most important event in our calendar this year,” said Headmaster Dr Richard Hillier. “We’ve been planning the centenary festival for two years and it’s wonderful to be celebrating the legacy of Yehudi Menuhin in the way he would have most enjoyed – the sharing of excellent music with friends and supporters in this very special place.”
The concert was followed by a fundraising dinner in a marquee in the ground of the School, where guests also took part in a silent auction. All money raised from the evening went to the Anniversary Appeal, which is supporting the construction of a purpose-built suite of music studios, and student bursaries.
This event was generously supported by S.W.MITCHELL CAPITAL.
Other Festival highlights included six Showcase concerts which gave every pupil the opportunity to perform. Each of these concerts included one of the six Partitas and Sonatas for Solo Violin by JS Bach, in recognition of Yehudi Menuhin’s landmark recordings of these works.
St Mary’s Church in Stoke d’Abernon played host to two Festival events: James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, gave an all-Bach lunchtime organ recital, and throughout the festival there was an exhibition of flower arrangements on a musical theme, echoing a similar event held in 1996 for the celebration of Yehudi’s 80th birthday.
'A Vision for Music and Dance Education' was the theme of a day-long seminar for music education specialists, where delegates were also treated to a lunchtime concert performed by pupils.
A lecture by film-maker Bruno Monsaingeon entitled 'Yehudi on Film', and an exhibition 'Musical Lines' of work created by Geraldine van Heemstra during her recent artist residency at the School, added associated events to an already diverse programme.
The final weekend consisted of a Commemoration event for close friends and colleagues, followed by a gathering of alumni on the Saturday. On the following day acclaimed actor Samuel West and virtuoso trumpet player Simon Desbrulais presented a programme of words and music inspired by the Bard in ‘Shakespeare and Music’. Those leaving the School in 2016 were presented with their specially bound scores following this concert, wrapping up the festival, and the academic year in great style.