Tuesday 18 May 2021

Remembering Denys Darlow at this year's Tilford Bach Festival

Denys Darlow
Denys Darlow

This week we have already marked the centenary of the horn player Dennis Brain, and now comes another remarkable centenarian.

For concert goers of a certain age, the name Denys Darlow (1921-2015) is inextricably linked with the music of Bach and of Handel, and with the two festivals that he founded, the Tilford Bach Festival (founded 1952) and the London Handel Festival (founded in 1978). He was an inspirational figure in the early music revival in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as being Professor of Organ, Theory, Aural and History at the Royal College of Music for 30 years. He commissioned numerous composers, composed a number of works himself and championed the lesser known works of Bach and Handel long before it became fashionable to do so.

This year is his centenary and the Tilford Bach Festival, which takes place on 12 and 13 June 2021, will include a special tribute to Darlow. Students from the Royal College of Music, directed from the harpsichord by Tolga Un, will be joined by soprano Joanne Lunn at 12 noon on Saturday, 12 June for a performance of Darlow's final composition, High Hills, which he wrote for Joanne Lunn and the London Handel Players in 2005.

On the Saturday evening, Adrian Butterfield (current artistic director of the festival) directs a Bach programme from the violin, featuring the London Handel Players in two Brandenburg Concerto related cantatas and the Kyrie and Gloria of the B minor Mass, with singers from the Royal College of Music (supported by the Josephine Baker Trust). Cantata BWV 52 Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht features the opening sinfonia which comes from Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, and Cantata BWV 174 Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte takes a movement from Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 as its opening sinfonia, but with added instrumental parts. Then on Sunday afternoon there is a performance of all six Brandenburg Concertos performed by the London Handel Players directed by Adrian Butterfield. Not coincidentally, this year is the 300th anniversary of the creation of the Brandenburg Concertos.

The festival programme (with details about reserving tickets) is available as an online flipbook.

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