Welcome note


Our ninth Hellensmusic brings a post-pandemic Renaissance, I believe,  but our essence remains the same: to bring you the dynamics  of world music old and new. Our soloists, great international artists, and exciting new talents working, learning, teaching together with an exceptional bunch of students from the Academies and Conservatoires across many borders!

Thank you Maya and Máté, Alice, Agnes, Olga, and Christian, Matthew, Julien, for this magic music-making, not forgetting all the team at Hellens who make it possible!

Hellensmusic will open this year on Wednesday May 11th with Christian Blackshaw, our Founder/Patron, playing an exciting new programme. The first half features two starkly contrasting sets of variations, the Haydn and the Beethoven. These flank six short minimalist pieces by the contemporary composer Howard Skempton, and the intimate character pieces of Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons

On Thursday we have the first of our chamber ensemble concerts –   from three composers:  work of the quintessentially English composer Herbert Howell, with its vocal and mystical quality; Shostakovich’s final work – dark, serene, atmospheric to the core, and Dvorak’s highly charged Second Piano Quintet, with its captivating emotional range.

On Friday, with Julien Quentin replacing Christian Blackshaw, we have Fanny Mendelsohn’s unjustly neglected only String Quartet – lyrical, soulful, vibrant, followed by Mozart’s sublime Clarinet Quintet, and finishing with Brahms’ passionate C minor Piano Quartet, completed twenty years after it was begun.

Thereafter all sensible souls will take to the Walwyn Alms from 9.30 on, for a gala gig to boggle the senses:  from Astor Piazzola, king of Tango, music from the twenties, thirties, from classic rock to  alternative pop, Works by Berlin to Amy Winehouse, The Verve! With Julien Q on piano, Máté S on viola/fiddle, and Matt Hunt on clarinet.

On Saturday you’re in for a Hungarian Extravanganza – Dohnányi, Bartok, Kodály, – compositions steeped in folk music – sonorous harmonies, heartfelt melodies, delicious rhythms.  The Ensemble  blending old and new in a  colourful, multifaceted programme to rocket the spirit.

And then on Sunday – last but by no means least – you will, I hope, want to join us for two concerts with the musicians of the future! Playing with their Maestros our students will perform both chamber and solo repertoire. This is one of my favourite moments in the year, and one where I feel that even a fellah of my antiquity can be inspired, surprised, and taught!


Adam Munthe
Festival Chairman