MUSICIANS from all over the world will be performing during a long weekend of music in East Sussex this summer.

The Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival, which takes place from June 21-24, aims to bring world-class musicians to rural East Sussex so audiences can enjoy international chamber music on their doorstep.

With nine concerts over four days, it is a significant event in the regional cultural calendar and this year the festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, will feature American violinist Mark Steinberg of the renowned Brentano Quartet, Taiwan-born violist Hsin-Yun Huang, a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, dazzling young cellist Edvard Pogossian, celebrated Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon, and the British composer pianist Huw Watkins.

Festival regulars the Navarra String Quartet and the Britten Sinfonia, this year under the baton of Douglas Boyd, Artistic Director of Garsington Opera and the Paris Chamber Orchestra, will also appear.

Above: Anthony Marwood/picture: Pia Johnson

Above: Richard Lester/picture: Walter Van Dyk

Below: the stage at the Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival

Above: the picturesque Church of St Peter & St Paul in Peasmarsh, one of the festival venues

There will also be a new work for string quartet and children’s voices, written by Sam Glazer and commissioned by longstanding Peasmarsh supporter Kate Davson. Its premiere will be performed by the festival’s co-directors the violinist Anthony Marwood and cellist Richard Lester, Mark Steinberg and Hsin-Yun Huang, with children from local schools.

“We are so pleased to be able to welcome these young performers onto the Peasmarsh stage,” say the festival’s co-directors Anthony Marwood and cellist Richard Lester.

They add, “This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first festival taking place in 1998, then the Florestan Festival at Peasmarsh. The festival started modestly in its first year, with three chamber music concerts, and in subsequent seasons expanded to include many more events, including the popular orchestral concert in Rye, a large repertoire including rarely performed works and new commissions, a rehearsal week
in Peasmarsh, masterclasses, composer residencies and pop-up concerts in supermarkets and cinemas.

“Our superlative musicians have given many memorable performances in the beautiful churches in Peasmarsh and Rye.”

The 2018 Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival takes place from Thursday-Sunday June 21-24. Phone 01797 253178, email or visit

The nine concerts at the 2018 Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival:

1 Festival Opening

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Thursday June 21, 8pm

Featuring Anthony Marwood, Huw Watkins, Mark Steinberg, Richard Lester, Dénes Várjon, Navarra String Quartet, Hsin-Yun Huang, Edvard Pogossian

Schubert: Rondo in B minor for violin and piano, D.895 ‘Rondeau Brillant’

Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor, Op.110

Brahms: String Sextet in G major, Op.36

Festival Directors Richard Lester and Anthony Marwood are joined by this year’s internationally renowned guest artists to take the audience on a sumptuous journey through the 19th century. The evening concludes with Brahms’ Sextet No. 2, written for Agathe von Siebold following the end of her relationship with the composer, as the young Brahms finds a maturing style to bid her farewell.

2 Young Composers!

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Friday June 22, 1pm

Featuring members of the Navarra String Quartet with participants from education workshops. Led by Sam Glazer

Sam Glazer, the composer of a new work for Sunday’s concert, presents compositions by participants in education workshops at Peasmarsh and Beckley schools. The Navarra String Quartet have been working with the children to bring their compositions to life and will in turn perform some of their quartet repertoire. Tickets are free but places should be reserved.

3 Orchestral Concert – The Philosopher’s Tone

St Mary’s Church, Church Square, Rye

Friday June 22, 8pm
Featuring Anthony Marwood, Richard Lester (soloists), Douglas Boyd (conductor), Britten Sinfonia

Haydn: Symphony No. 22 in E flat major ‘The Philosopher’

Boccherini: Cello Concerto in D major, G.483

Bernstein: Serenade (after Plato’s ‘Symposium’) for solo violin and orchestra

Britten Sinfonia is under the baton of acclaimed conductor Douglas Boyd. Gaining its nickname post completion, and likely not from the composer, the presence of Haydn’s philosopher in his Symphony No. 22 is palpable. Juxtaposed is Peasmarsh’s contribution to the 2018 Bernstein centenary; his depiction of the great thinkers presenting their statements on love – the fantastically scored Serenade for strings, solo violin, harp and percussion. Boccherini – a wizard on the instrument himself – wrote 12 virtuosic concerti for the cello. Here is No 10, with Richard Lester as soloist.

4 Morning Concert – Death and the Maiden

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Saturday June 23, 11.30am
Featuring Richard Lester, Dénes Várjon, Navarra String Quartet

Chopin: Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65

Schubert: String Quartet in D minor, Op.810, ‘Death and the Maiden’

This concert celebrates the short lives of two giants of 19th century chamber music. With performances of works composed just before their untimely deaths, prepare for an emotional journey as Chopin’s lyrical cello Sonata makes way for Schubert’s depiction of his struggle with mortality, Death and the Maiden, passed over at the time, but now considered a masterpiece of the chamber repertoire.

5 Early Evening Concert

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Saturday June 23, 6:30pm

Featuring Anthony Marwood, Hsin-Yun Huang, Richard Lester, Mark Steinberg, Huw Watkins, Edvard Pogossian

Beethoven: String Trio in C minor, Op.9 No. 3

Hindemith: Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op.11 No.1 (1918)

Elgar: Quintet in A minor for piano and strings Op.84 (1918)

This evening’s programme looks back 100 years to the final year of the First World War, with Elgar’s lush writing coexisting in war torn Europe with Hindemith’s developmental style, as the Romantic era draws to a close. Beethoven’s dramatic String Trio from over a century earlier begins the journey to Romanticism.

6 Late Night Concert – Fantasias and Caprices

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh
Saturday June 23, 9.45pm
Featuring Anthony Marwood, Mark Steinberg, Hsin-Yun Huang, Edvard Pogossian, Richard Lester

Sciarrino: Sei Capricci

Purcell: Fantasias

Salvatore Sciarrino, perhaps Italy’s finest living composer, wrote 6 caprices for solo violin inspired by Paganini. Performed by Anthony Marwood, Sciarrino’s evocative and ethereal soundscape is interspersed with some of Henry Purcell’s magical and enigmatic fantasias for 3, 4 and 5 parts. The result is a fascinating, intimate and meditative listening experience.

7 Sunday Morning Concert

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Sunday June 24, 11:30am

Featuring Navarra String Quartet, Hsin-Yun Huang, Anthony Marwood, Richard Lester, Mark Steinberg

Mozart: String Quintet in D major, K.593

Glazer: Festival Commission – world premiere

Originating in 16th century Italy, the popular and subversive street-theatre form Commedia dell’arte depicts a cast of characters from cunning servants to enchanted lovers. Inspiring artists and composers through the ages, the festival presents the world premiere of a new suite of Commedia-inspired songs for young people and string quartet, composed by Sam Glazer and paired today with Mozart’s sublime quintet.

8 Sunday Afternoon Concert – Guest Spotlight
Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Sunday June 24, 4.30pm

Featuring Huw Watkins, Hsin-Yun Huang, Edvard Pogossian, Mark Steinberg, Dénes Várjon

Watkins: Fantasy for viola and piano

Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D.821 for cello and piano

Schumann: Violin Sonata in D minor, Op.121

Guest artists take to the stage for a concert filled with glorious music, from Schumann’s passionate violin Sonata to Watkins’ Fantasy for viola and piano. Excited by the arrival of the Arpeggione – something like a six-stringed bowed guitar – Schubert set about composing his Sonata for arpeggione and piano. Sadly, beset with practical issues, as little as 10 years later the instrument was no longer in use. Luckily for us, the work is still played in transcription for viola or cello, with young American cellist Edvard Pogossian giving this afternoon’s performance.

9 Finale

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Church Lane, Peasmarsh

Sunday June 24, 7pm

Featuring Huw Watkins, Mark Steinberg, Hsin-Yun Huang, Richard Lester, Anthony Marwood, Magnus Johnston, Simone van der Giessen, Brian O’Kane, Edvard Pogossian, Dénes Várjon

Weber: Piano Quartet in B flat major, J76 Op.18

Schulhoff: String Sextet

Beethoven: Piano Trio in B flat major, Op.97 ‘Archduke Trio’

The 20th anniversary festival concludes with works from three composers who pushed boundaries and challenged convention. Crucial in dismissing the restraints of the Classical form, Beethoven and Weber produced works full of originality and Romantic virtuosity. Premiered by the composer himself, Beethoven’s colossal Archduke Trio is no exception; poignantly one of the last pieces Beethoven ever performed in public. In a life punctuated by two world wars, Schulhoff saw music as a tool for revolution. Encouraged and taught by Dvořák and Debussy, Schulhoff collected inspiration anywhere he could find it, pioneering the use of Jazz rhythms and influences from the avant-garde in his compositions. His remarkable sextet is full of dark beauty and intensity.