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!