Abbotsholme Arts Society was started in 1968 by Gordon Clark, the Director of Music at Abbotsholme School. The first concert was given by the oboist, Leon Goossens, on 24th September of that year. There have been well over a thousand concerts, films, readings, lectures and discussions by many of the finest in their field in the world during the five decades that have followed. The vast majority of events are held ‘in the round’ in the fine chapel at Abbotsholme School but on occasion, because of the nature of the performance, the Society has staged its events at major concert halls throughout the Midlands, at National Trust properties (such as Kedleston Hall and Sudbury Hall) and at private properties (for example Chatsworth House) bringing great orchestras such as the Hallé, The London Symphony and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw to the area.
The Society, has been honoured to have had four most supportive Patrons. Lord Platt was the first and he was succeeded by Lord Gibson, then Paul Tortelier and now Steven Isserlis. When Gordon Clark died in 1989 he was succeeded by Paul Spicer, then in 2001 by Meurig Bowen, then Richard Hawley and now the current Artistic Director, Neil Millensted.
Abbotsholme, a co-educational day/boarding school founded in 1889, is beautifully and centrally situated on its own estate in the Dove Valley, between Ashbourne and Uttoxeter. The main façade of the school is dominated by a magnificent copper beech tree, an image of which forms the Society’s logo.
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