Glossop Music Festival - a home-grown classical event

PUBLISHED: 10:27 20 April 2015 | UPDATED: 19:40 18 June 2015

Chris George

Chris George

as submitted

Glossop Music Festival is set to take place from 24th to 27th June 2015

Viv McLean with young audience in Glossop Parish ChurchViv McLean with young audience in Glossop Parish Church

Glossop has become the homeland of choice for increasing numbers of classical musicians in recent years. And, with enthusiastic community backing, they’ve begun a new tradition in the town’s social calendar – the Glossop Music Festival.

This year the programme includes Bach’s St John Passion on Easter Monday (6th April) in Glossop Parish Church, Old Glossop, and the Summer Festival from 24th to 27th June, with two orchestral concerts, schools concerts, a late-night piano recital – and free music in at least one of the town’s pubs.

The man behind the festival is Tom Elliott, a professional violinist who has played with some of Britain’s best international orchestras. Tom and his wife Katherine Baker, principal flute with the Hallé Orchestra, have been residents of Glossop for nearly 10 years, bringing up their family of Arthur (9), Henry (7), and Felix (5).

‘The original idea for the festival came from an old friend and colleague at the Royal Academy of Music,’ says Tom. ‘He’s Viv McLean, a concert pianist who came to perform with the Hallé early in 2012. He was staying with us in Glossop and asked: “Is there a music festival here?” I said: “No, I don’t think so,” and he said: “Why don’t you start one?”

Last year's Glossop Music Festival inside Glossop Parish ChurchLast year's Glossop Music Festival inside Glossop Parish Church

‘It all went on from there. Viv has given several recitals in Glossop (the most recent with Kath playing Poulenc’s Flute Sonata), and he played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1 here, which sold out. Some of my friends came and played in the orchestra for nothing, which helped.’

There’s a board of trustees and a committee, and new members become Friends of the Festival – giving them voting rights at the AGM for their £50 contribution, plus free tickets and extras.

Tom says: ‘The festival is really friends getting together – and sharing what they do. The County Council has supported us to do schools concerts before the festival highlights in June. Some beginner violinists will be playing with the professionals, in a piece called The Frogs – they have to sound like they’re croaking!’

Last year’s two-day classical, jazz and chamber music programme was a great success – and this year includes music in unusual places – including Mendelssohn’s Octet in a pub, free of charge.

Tom Elliott and Kath Baker with their family, walking on Bleaklow in the High PeakTom Elliott and Kath Baker with their family, walking on Bleaklow in the High Peak

‘We used to do that kind of thing when we were students in London,’ Tom says. ‘It’s our philosophy, really, to take music to where people are... and we want children to be included – we don’t charge them for admission, as long as their parents come. Last year the first two rows were nearly all children, from five upwards, and they sat there absolutely rapt.’

Easter Monday’s performance of the St John Passion will feature some of the best Bach singers in the country: Elin Manahan Thomas and Robert Davies of the Dunedin Consort among them, and William Kendall in the Evangelist’s role.

In June Matthew Truscott is orchestra leader, Viv McLean piano soloist, and the Festival Orchestra comes from principal players of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Hallé, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Conductor Chris George says: ‘Tom and I were at college together and toured the world with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and when Tom was working on the idea of the festival, he asked if I would conduct the concerts. We had this brilliant bunch of mates who had been together at music college and are all now top-level players.’

Matthew Truscott, the orchestra leader, was brought up in North Yorkshire and studied at Chetham’s School in Manchester and then London’s Royal Academy alongside Tom. As he says: ‘Four of us, who shared a house in our second year, seem to be involved with the festival now, or are going to be!’

Contact with star singer Elin Manahan Thomas came through Claire Surman, a former Glyndebourne Festival Opera singer who trained with Elin at the Royal College of Music – she now lives in Glossop, and runs ‘GlossOpera’.

‘I knew Jeff Snowden, a professional French horn player and conductor, and his wife, Maria, a flautist. Jeff is the founder of Glossop Concert Society and Principal Musical Director of the Dark Peak Music Trust, which runs a whole family of instrumental ensembles for young people, based in different venues in the district.

‘Jeff got me and Tom together over a curry one night, about 18 months ago – and we talked about the festival idea. I have lots of good friends who sing with groups such as The Sixteen, the BBC Singers and the Monteverdi Choir, so we’re hoping we can build something very exciting in Glossop. It’s great to be part of the dream and see it coming to fruition.’

Last word to Viv McLean – ‘Originally I thought this would be just a few people and probably piano music only – but it’s grown into something much bigger. It’s great to play to an audience which spans the age range from three to 85, and Tom’s done a fantastic job building a following here.’


Monday 6th April, 6.30pm, Glossop Parish Church: Bach’s St John Passion, with Glossop Festival Orchestra conducted by Chris George, and Elin Manahan Thomas, Robert Davies, William Kendall, Alice Gribbin, Alex Gibson, Martha Mclorinan, Nicholas Mulroy, Jeremy Budd and Matthew Brook.

Wednesday 24th June, 10.30am and 1.45pm, St Luke’s Church Glossop: Schools Concert, with Glossop Festival String Orchestra directed by Matthew Truscott, including Telemann’s ‘The Frogs’ featuring 30 beginner violinists from St Luke’s Primary School.

Thursday 25th June, 10.30am and 1.45pm, Glossop Parish Church: Schools Concert, with Glossop Festival String Orchestra directed by Matthew Truscott, including Telemann’s ‘The Frogs’ featuring beginner strings from St Charles’ School, Hadfield.

Evening chamber music, free, in Glossop pubs.

Friday 26th June, 7.30pm, Glossop Parish Church: Glossop Festival Orchestra conducted by Christopher George.

Programme: Mozart Overture, The Marriage of Figaro; Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 4 with Viv McLean, Mendelssohn Symphony no. 4 (‘Italian’)

10pm: Viv McLean plays Bach works for solo piano, including English Suite in A minor

Saturday 27th June, 11.30am, Glossop Parish Church: Family Concert with Glossop Festival String Orchestra directed by Matthew Truscott, including Telemann’s ‘The Frogs’ featuring beginner violins from St Luke’s and St Charles’ schools.

7.30pm, Glossop Parish Church: Glossop Festival String Orchestra conducted by Christopher George, including

Bach Brandenburg Concerto no. 5, with Katherine Baker, flute, Matthew Truscott, violin, and Viv McLean, piano

Dvorak Serenade for Strings.

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