Svend Brown, Artistic Director, talks about the festival’s favourites…
Big birthdays are fine occasions for taking a good hard look at yourself. This year I’ve been spending a bit of time nerdily going through every ENF programme since 2005 and collating spreadsheets and lists of musicians, composers, pieces of music, writers and artists whom we have featured over the past decade to see what they revealed about us.
The top 20 composers make an interesting bunch. Between them they span a period from the Tudor age (Tallis, Dowland) to the present day (Living composers include Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, John Luther Adams and James MacMillan). They come from Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, USA, Russia and Scotland.
The top 5 should come as no surprise given that the heart of East Neuk Festival is a shared passion for chamber music – especially the great masterworks of the past 250-odd years. And our most popular genre is the string quartet: so Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn lead the field. Of them all, Mozart undoubtedly wrote the greatest volume and range of chamber music and that explains his top position. We have heard his music for strings, voice, winds, solo and orchestra: his quartets, of course but also trios, quintets, serenades and divertimenti, sonata and variations, then concerts, symphonies and overtures. Yet we have still only featured less than 10% of his output in these genres. In contrast we have featured all of Mendelssohn’s quartets and most of Beethoven’s.
The two pieces of music that have been performed most regularly also give food for thought: Beethoven’s late string quartet Op.132 and Arvo Pärt’s Fratres in a variety of incarnations – for strings wind and soloists. That does make me feel good: great pieces both and in utterly different ways.
Here’s the list:
17. John Luther Adams
18. James MacMillan