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King’s Lynn’s Charles Burney Early Music Festival was a ‘great success’, say reviewers

Andy Tyler, Alison Croose and Kate Parker share their thoughts on the King’s Lynn’s Festival’s Charles Burney Early Music Festival.

Charles Burney Early Music Festival review

Congratulations to the King’s Lynn Festival for holding its recent second excellent Charles Burney Early Music Festival, a fitting tribute to Dr.Burney, the influential eighteenth-century organist, composer, and leading music historian of his time, writes Andy Tyler.

Matthew Truscott playing violin and Steven Devine on the fortepiano
Matthew Truscott playing violin and Steven Devine on the fortepiano

He was also a member of Dr.Johnson’s intellectual social circle in London, and the father of Fanny Burney, the novelist who was born in Lynn during the period the family lived in the town when Charles was organist at St.Margaret’s Church, (now The Minster).

Dr.Burney made two exhaustive journeys in the early 1770s to many European countries researching, meeting musicians, and attending musical events, accounts of which he published subsequently.

His famous General History of Music was published in four volumes later during that decade.

Charles Burney Early Music Festival took place
Charles Burney Early Music Festival took place

I attended three events during the Festival’s duration, two concerts and an illustrated, sold-out talk, given by Trudie Messent of The Burney Society, who gave insight into Francis Burney: Family, Friends and The Famous.

The Festival’s opening concert was a great success, given by Apollo’s Cabinet and warmly received by the enthusiastic audience.

The group consisted of Ella Bodeker, Soprano, Jonatan Bougt, (Theorbo and Baroque Guitar), Harry Buckoke, (Viola da Gamba), David Lopez Ibanez, (Violin), Thomas Pickering, (Recorder Traverso, Harpsichord), Daniel Watt, (Percussion), and Teresa Wrann, (Recorder and Narration).

They gave animated and entertaining performances of music Charles Burney would have heard during his European travels, culminating in a performance of Burney’s own moving Cantata: The despairing Shepherd.

Charles Burney Early Music Festival took place
Charles Burney Early Music Festival took place

Apollo’s Cabinet perform widely, are dedicated to educational outreach for adults and children, and record when possible.

Their Lynn appearance, including atmospheric sound effects, arrangements, and readings from Burney’s writings, got the Festival off to a flying start.

The second musical event I attended was a first-class recital of music by J.S, J.C and C.P.E Bach entitled: Burney and the Bachs, given by Matthew Truscott, violin, and Steven Devine, fortepiano, both distinguished professional musicians prominent especially, in the early music field.

They have performed and recorded widely and their wonderful, spirit-lifting programme, including sonatas by J.S. Bach and works by his sons Carl Philip Emanuel and Johann Christian whom Charles Burney would have met.

Thanks to all involved with the Festival for enabling us to learn more about The Burney Family and enjoy more of the music composed in their time.

To become a Festival Friend or patron, or learn about sponsorship opportunities please contact: www.kingslynnfestival.org.uk/supportus

Tea with Dr Burney reviews

The last concert in the Charles Burney Early Music Festival was given at All Saints Church on Sunday, October 1, writes Kate Parker.

Dr Burney, a one-time resident of Lynn, knew all the composers personally, and the scene was set with readings from his journals.

Steven Devine played J C Bach and Mozart on his copy of a 1785 fortepiano, and accompanied Kate Semmens in songs by Mozart and Haydn as well as lesser-known English composers.

Apparently it was not an era for the ‘stiff upper lip’ but instead love and anguish were given full rein.

Kate transported us to that time with a performance that would have delighted 18th century audiences as much as it did King’s Lynn in 2023.

It was a captivating end to an exceptional weekend of early music.

Afterwards there was no sign of Dr Burney but the promised tea was enjoyed by all.

All Saints Church at King’s Lynn again proved to be an excellent venue for a small-scale concert when it provided the setting for a key event during the first Charles Burney Early Music Festival, writes Alison Croose.

The three-day event was inspired by the 18th century musician who, for eight years, was organist at Lynn’s St Margaret’s Church and promoted concerts in the town.

Tea with Dr Burney at All Saints Church was an ideal venue for a light-hearted programme featuring music composed by musicians Burney encountered during his travels in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A cup of tea and a slice of cake rounded off a delightful afternoon.

Other events were staged in Lynn’s historic buildings with which Burney would also have been familiar, including the Town Hall and St Nicholas’ Chapel.

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