The Glory of Summer Music Festivals

By Culling, Martin | Gramophone, May 2013 | Go to article overview

The Glory of Summer Music Festivals


Culling, Martin, Gramophone


I write this with unseasonal snow flurries falling; I hope you are reading it with normal weather resumed, a warming spring sun setting over blossom outside. Thoughts might then turn more easily, perhaps, to summer festivals.

Many of my most memorable musical experiences have been at festivals, and I use the word 'experience' to mean much more than the performance itself. Events in your usual concert hall can be remarkable, powerful and profound. But then you emerge out into the familiar city streets, where Mahlerian or Mozartian greatness soon dissipates into the crush of crowds and the chaos of traffic.

At a festival however, a profound musical experience is often further enriched by being in a new place, one you may have travelled a long distance to, where the air is rich with the scent of unfamiliar flora, the dusk a different hue to home. With a newly alert mind we might hear a familiar work in a different way.

Often, of course, we might hear something we've never heard before: that's a specialism of festivals. …

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