A warm welcome to the 2017 Royal Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival which commences at 3pm on Sunday 1st October at the Assembly Hall Theatre with Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra’s opening concert of its 2017/18 season. A special attraction will be the concert’s celebrated soloist, leading UK Mezzo Soprano, Sarah Connolly, with Elgar’s beautiful ‘Sea Pictures’.


The town’s excellent symphony orchestra reflects the vibrant musical life of Tunbridge Wells and we are delighted to highlight the exciting mix of classical music that this fine large ensemble performs during its October to April season (see www.rtwso.org for full details).


A highlight of the 2017 Festival will be a farewell concert by the Schubert Ensemble on Friday 13th October (7.30pm) at King Charles the Martyr church. The lovely venue’s superb acoustic qualities are fitting for one of the world’s finest ensembles for piano and strings. The Ensemble’s members have decided to conclude over three decades of international concert giving in the New Year. So here’s a rare opportunity to enjoy one of their final exquisite performances (with works by Dvorak, Schumann and Suk) of the many that have delighted audiences worldwide: an occasion to cherish!


The key literary event of our 2017 Festival will be a warm welcome back for Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Victoria Hislop. The delightful author of The Island, The Return, The Thread and The Sunrise will join us in a 7.30pm soiree to discuss her novel (new in paperback) Cartes Postales from Greece. So do note: AN EVENING WITH VICTORIA HISLOP Trinity Theatre Thursday 12th October.


The Festival continues its important focus on events for younger people. As well as schools visits by young musicians of the Arensky Chamber Orchestra, our “Festival Middle Saturday” 7th October from 10am - 1pm at King Charles the Martyr will feature a Masterclass led by brilliant Irish pianist Michael McHale followed by a McHale pre-lunch Recital. Both events will be free and totally fascinating (maybe a treat before lunch in the Pantiles or High Street?). The Masterclass for talented young pianists will be from 10-11.30am - and you can tip-toe in and out (quietly!) at any stage. Then Michael McHale’s hugely anticipated recital will be a one hour tour de force from noon to 1pm. Michael’s playing has enchanted audiences worldwide, from Tokyo to New York. So do join us on Saturday 7th October for some magical music-making.


Finally the Festival returns to ancient Penshurst church for a performance of Verdi’s Requiem on Saturday 14th October at 7.30pm. Verdi's Requiem has held audiences in its spell since its 1874 premiere and this staged version by the Merry Opera Company brings the audience deep into the music. Also, for those Festival followers unable to make the Penshurst date (our Festival Finale), there will be a pre-Festival opportunity to enjoy this production at King Charles the Martyr church in Tunbridge Wells on 23rd September.


Our regular followers, from the towns and villages of the Weald, can look forward to an attractive Festival with a mix of orchestral music, chamber music, master classes for talented young people, together with literary and other events.

We particularly wish to continue our exceptional work for younger people, such as last year’s wonderful concert for 3-8 year olds and the flute masterclass for grade 7-8 teenagers as well as this year’s masterclass for talented young pianists and the primary schools visits by the fabulous young musicians of the Arensky Chamber Orchestra. As violin star Nicola Benedetti often mentions, it is so easy for younger children to miss out on early exposure to inspiring classical music. With your help, we can continue to meet this need and help local children enjoy the magic of great music.

Enjoy the 2017 Royal Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival!

Michael Waggett, Festival Chairman

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