Ansells Music Weekend with Stephen & Melinda Varcoe July 2nd – 4th 2010

“… your weekends really are the most perfect experiences”…

A quote from one of the letters we received after this, our second annual festival, voted even better than last year’s by participants and audiences. Once again the weather gods were soothed by the prospect of mellifluous music into behaving impeccably, and the sunshine and warmth enhanced our theme of Travel, Holidays and Adventures. Eight students of singing spent all day Saturday, and Sunday morning, in intensive masterclasses with Stephen and accompanist Susi Morrow; then in the evening everyone relaxed, and members of the public joined us to enjoy picnics in the summery garden before two wonderful concerts, given by distinguished guest musicians.

Friday night’s concert, a complete sell-out, was a wonderful treat. Renowned actress Prunella Scales joined Stephen in a programme entitled ‘Travelling Hopefully’, an anthology of words and music from exotic travellers’ tales to hilarious holiday experiences, with songs to match.

‘Travelling Hopefully’, with Prunella Scales, Stephen Varcoe and accompanist Christina Lawrie

On Saturday, brilliant young husband and wife duo Marcus Barcham-Stevens and Christina Lawrie took us (and their violin and piano) round Europe on a musical adventure, and Stephen joined Marcus as narrator for a performance of Alan Ridout’s delightful ‘Ferdinand the Bull’.

The final concert on Sunday afternoon saw our eight singing-workshop participants presenting a varied programme of songs to an enthusiastic audience, followed by tea and homemade cakes in the garden.

Singing workshop participants and musicians

It’s clear that we’ve started a new Alphamstone tradition, and we’re already planning for next year’s festival, when we hope to equal (or even exceed?) this year’s triumph – dates to be announced later!

Concert: Desert Island Songs

St Peter’s, Sudbury
Sunday, October 25 2009
7.30 pm

Desert Island Songs

an Entertaining Collection
of Personal Favourites
sung by
Stephen Varcoe
Christina Lawrie
at the piano

Aided, Abetted and Compèred by
Andrew Phillips

Tickets £10 reserved, £8 unreserved
available from Compact Music, Sudbury,
or, with SAE, from
Roger Green, 62 Friars Street, Sudbury,
CO10 2AG

Vaughan Williams – Singing the Story


Youth & Love

Let us Garlands Bring

Box Office: 020 7222 1061


Stephen Varcoe, who is widely admired as an exponent of English song, has devised two programmes based around VW’s long and fascinating life. He is joined by James Gilchrist, one of England’s leading tenors, and by pianist and Grainger expert, Penelope Thwaites. They will include songs by some composers seldom heard – Max Bruch, for instance; Michael Mullinar, Gordon Jacob, Elizabeth Maconchy, Denis Browne, Charles Wood, Thomas Dunhill – as well as those great figures of English music, Parry, Stanford and Elgar, and not forgetting Ravel and VW’s great friend Holst. Armstrong Gibbs, Butterworth, Finzi, Ireland and Grainger will also feature.

As for VW himself : there are the two great works On Wenlock Edge and Songs of Travel which form the major focus of the two programmes. There will be folksong settings, some of The House of Life, and songs from the operas. All of this will be knitted together with a narrative about aspects of the great man, and anecdotes from him and his friends. A highly entertaining pair of evenings, giving a picture of the variety and broadness of VW’s achievement.