Ribchester Festival has a new vision for 21st year

Stars: Aurora Percussion Duo Delia Stevens and Le Yu  delighted Festival supporters, who in turn have now given their backing to proposals for the 21st Ribchester Festival
Stars: Aurora Percussion Duo Delia Stevens and Le Yu delighted Festival supporters, who in turn have now given their backing to proposals for the 21st Ribchester Festival

The renowned Ribchester Festival of Music and Art will celebrate its 21st birthday this summer with a new mission – to showcase the best of Britain’s young musical talent.

Directors believe the move will give the festival new vigour and offer audiences the chance to listen to artists on the threshold or at the beginning of international careeers.

But they admit that it’s a financial crisis which has propelled them into rethinking the popular festival’s format.

Chairman Tim Rainford sent a letter to festival supporters and members of its friends group inviting them to a special event at main festival venue St Wilfrid’s Church to assess their views.

He said that, in common with many artistic events, it was proving impossible to raise new sponsorship: “Twenty years is a convenient time to ask how we might look at an alternative...we need to rethink what we are doing.”

He introduced a special guest – the festival’s first artistic director Professor Malcolm Layfield, Head of School of Strings at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

Malcolm (pictured) was responsible for bringing top international artists to the festival in its first five years, and also for introducing young talent such as cellist Alice Neary and staging opera in Ribchester with a youthful and talented cast. Malcolm’s clear message was that recession can lead to revival: “I’m suggesting you have the young artists of tomorrow. You’ll have the opportunity to see these artists and follow their careers.”

He introduced an example of the kind of performance festival goers might expect - the precociously talented Aurora Percussion Duo. Directors will now get to work planning the festival which will culminate with a Festival Eucharist on June 23. They hope to liaise with top musical establishments including the RNCM and the Royal Academy.