Faversham Life

An inside view

Musique Cordiale

Posted: 9th July, 2021 Category: Culture

A music festival from the hills of Provence comes to the Kentish Downs

Words Posy Gentles Photographs Pippa Pawlik

Waiting to perform

Musique Cordiale musicians

Musique Cordiale, the annual music festival, is inviting top musicians from around the country to perform in Newnham and Doddington from 29 July to 4 August. There will be open air concerts at Doddington Place, where you can bring your own picnic Glyndebourne-style, and thrill to the drama of Mozart’s Requiem swelling under the giant yew hedges. The gardens will also host a cabaret evening, and the last evening will include a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. There are concerts of chamber music and arias in the churches at Newnham and Doddington, and at Faversham Assembly Rooms. The programme is featured here and tickets can be obtained from www.musique-cordiale.com.

Musique Cordiale was established in 2005 in France by Pippa Pawlik, a former professional viola player who then ran a music public relations company. She has a little house in Seillons, in the hills behind St Tropez, where she lives part of the year (Covid permitting). The rest of the time, she lives in Newnham. In 2005, the combination of a beautiful Provençal church in the village, Pippa’s vision, and an address book teaming with musical contacts, engendered the festival. Pippa asked musicians from around Europe to join her to perform Bach’s B minor Mass in the church. She couldn’t offer them payment, but she did offer good food and copious quantities of bonhomie and rosé. From this, Musique Cordiale grew, bringing together a hundred or so musicians from all over Europe every summer. So much fun was it, that the festival also started happening in Kent.

La Chappelle Notre Dame de L’Ormeau Seillans

La Chappelle Notre Dame de L’Ormeau Seillans, where it all started

Since Covid hit, the international flavour of Musique Cordiale has inevitably been curtailed but the festival has certainly not crumbled under the stultifying impact of the virus. Musicians arriving on planes and French dates at Seillons are on hold – but the show goes on. Last year, there was an outdoor performance of Brahms’ Requiem at Doddington Place. There was an electric piano (orchestras were not permitted), and 24 choir members standing two metres apart from each other. Graham Ross, the illustrious conductor, who is the director of music at Clare College, Cambridge, was seen to weep as he conducted for the first time since the March 2020 lockdown.

Graham Ross, the illustrious conductor, who is the director of music at Clare College, Cambridge

Graham Ross, the illustrious conductor, who is the director of music at Clare College, Cambridge

This year, for the outdoor concerts, there will be an orchestra of at least 20 players, and a choir of around 30.

Graham Ross will be conducting, and among the performers are Emma Purslow, who will play the violin solo in The Four Seasons, and Charlotte King, mezzo soprano, who will sing favourite songs from the Cabaret Classics repertoire, accompanied by pianist Dylan Perez.

Three of the soloists for the Mozart Requiem are post graduates of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. They are Katherine McIndoe from New Zealand, Brenton Spiteri from Australia, and Adam Maxey from the UK. James Hall, a counter tenor who sang the part of Farinelli (the renowned castrato) on Broadway, and performed in Hamlet by Brett Dean, will sing alto.

Jonathan Barker and Pippa Pawlik, the inspiration and organisers of Musique Cordiale

Jonathan Barker and Pippa Pawlik, the inspiration behind Music Cordiale

‘We are still being very careful with social distancing,’ says Pippa, ‘but in ways that retain our high musical and aesthetic standards. The musicians are very excited to be coming to Kent and it should sound brilliant. And we’re promised a heatwave!’

Text: Posy Gentles. Photographs: Pippa Pawlik

See November  2017 Faversham Life article

For tickets, please contact www.musique-cordiale.com

or Pippa Pawlik on 07976 301443