40th Calne Music & Arts Festival - 2014

Carole Browne - President


This, our 40th year, has proved to be rather special. We succeeded in persuading the BBC’s ‘Any Questions’ team with Jonathan Dimbleby to come to Calne for the second Friday of the Festival. We were also successful in gaining funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project to commemorate World War One. This War Memorial project started in February, involved research by pupils from all the local secondary schools, and culminated in a performance on 12 June alongside a team of musicians from Bath Philharmonic’s Music in Action programme. It was an ambitious project, involving many local groups and weeks of hard work, of which we can be justly proud. Poems in this year’s poetry competition will commemorate World War One, and poems will be on display at the Heritage Centre throughout October. Over the past 40 years the Festival has grown and evolved under the various Presidents and Committees, but it still maintains its core principles, remaining very much a local event and drawing the community together for a great week of celebration of music and art, in all their forms. Judith Weir, one of the UK’s most prestigious composers, and who was very much involved in the 1977 Festival, is returning to Calne to officially open this year’s Festival. This is particularly special for us as Judith Weir was also appointed ‘Master of the Queen’s Music’ in June this year, the ‘Poet Laureate’ equivalent of music. We are also pleased to be welcoming back people who were involved in the 1975 Festival such as Salisbury Cathedral Choir and Super Nova.

Marden House remains the ‘hub’ of the Festival, with lunchtime and evening concerts and ‘Codas’ most days. Coffee is available during the day for people visiting the Art Exhibition, lunches are served after the midday concerts and a bar and refreshments are available most evenings.

Apart from the Art Exhibition and concerts in Marden House, local artists are opening their studios to visitors at weekends, the library is hosting an exhibition of children’s art, the Heritage Centre a photographic exhibition by the Calne Camera Club, and there are many other events scheduled at different venues throughout the town. There will certainly be something for people of all age groups and tastes to enjoy.

Enormous thanks are due to the Committee and the various groups who have helped to make this Festival possible, including our sponsors and not least to the musicians and exhibiting artists, both amateur and professional. Here’s to another 40 years!

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Festival Club - Marden House

The wine bar at Marden House  is open before evening events and for interval drinks. Coffee and cakes are also available on weekday evenings after the main event, but owing to licensing laws we shall be unable to serve alcoholic drinks on the Monday evening. Light lunches are served following the weekday lunchtime concerts in Marden House. Why not also come and enjoy a late Coda event in a relaxed atmosphere.

Calne Music and Arts Festival acknowledges the support of the following:

Calne Music & Arts Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of Chilvester Financial, Calne Town Council, Bevirs Solicitors, and Skylight Publishing as well as the collaboration of Calne Camera Club, Calne Library, The Heritage Centre, and Marden House. Calne Music & Arts Festival is affiliated to Making Music

Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s music, reflects on the Festival opening

In 1977, aged 23, I was invited to work at the Calne Festival in Wiiltshire, founded two years earlier by local schoolteacher David White. Last Thursday I was invited to open the 40th anniversary Festival, and…  wait a moment, where did the last thirty-seven years disappear to?

Also missing last week was the giant Harris bacon factory which, when I last worked in Calne was an unmissable central feature of the town – it was demolished in 1984. Teaching in both primary and secondary schools during my 1977 visit, I soon learned that Calne, quite counter-intuitively for a small town nestling in the beautiful Wiltshire downs, was a solid working community more reminiscent of the industrial north, with 20% of the population employed at the local factory, lunchtime factory hooters, and the Calne Silver Band, which I conducted during my period of residence.

Visiting last week, the opening art exhibition was packed, as was the world premiere of a musical about local history, being performed nearby. I tend to think of the last forty years as being increasingly strained for the arts, so it was great to see this home-grown event thriving even more than I could have imagined. They have clearly discovered that the key to a good local festival is quality artistic events with a local handle. In my opening speech on Thursday I recalled that in 1977 we’d had a visit from a local composer – Sir Michael Tippett, who lived just a couple of miles out of town. He also conducted the Silver Band that year (who must have been doubly nonplussed by this succession of unusual guest conductors.)

I finally recalled writing a Fanfare for the 1977 Festival which was performed by local brass players before many of the festival events. At the end of my talk, a familiar looking man emerged from the audience – this was Calne-based sculptor Richard Cowdy, who’d played horn in the Fanfare thirty-seven years ago. That vast time gap slipped away as Richard and I discussed my brass composition and all the strange incidents that befell it (for instance – it preceded the town symphony orchestra’s performance of Haydn’s Creation, causing confusion as to whether this was the famous ‘Representation of Chaos’ listed in the programme.) Not for the first time, I reflected on one of music’s superpowers – the one which allows it to telescope huge lengths of time into an instant.

Thanks to Glenis Ansell, Carole Browne and all at Calne Music&Arts Festival; and to David and Judy White (my generous hosts in 1977).