This Season’s Programme

Please Note:
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation, we are unable to proceed with a 2020-21 season.
Our 2019-2020 season introduction is presented below


This Season’s Programme

I am thrilled to welcome you to a new season of the Abbotsholme Arts Society – my first as Artistic Director. This season brings some familiar friends and some new faces to Abbotsholme and I cannot wait to introduce them to you.

Since its foundation by Gordon Clark, and now under the Patronage of the world-renowned cellist, Steven Isserlis CBE, Abbotsholme Arts Society has hosted some of the finest artists on the international musical scene and is today regarded as one of the foremost music clubs in the country. Set in the beautiful rural setting of the Staffordshire countryside near the cathedral city of Lichfield, our concerts mainly take place in the Abbotsholme School Chapel, where audiences enjoy hearing and seeing artists perform in a close and intimate atmosphere.

Our season begins with Leon McCawley, one of Britain’s leading pianists, who recently had a tremendous success at the BBC Proms playing John Ireland’s piano concerto. From his early days at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, Leon’s career has taken him all over the world to great acclaim, and I am delighted that he is making his debut recital at Abbotsholme this October.

In February we are privileged to welcome the outstanding Macedonian pianist, Simon Trpceski, whose programme of German and Russian masters includes Prokofiev’s powerful 7th piano sonata, ‘The Stalingrad’. The opportunity to hear this magnificent work in the intimate surroundings of Abbotsholme School Chapel is not to be missed!

Chamber music is at the heart of the Abbotsholme tradition, and we have two very different ensembles this season. The Brodsky Quartet is known as one of the world’s most innovative and accomplished string quartets. Their performances of one of Beethoven’s extraordinary late string quartets together with Debussy’s much-loved quartet, will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the season. Our other quartet, 4 Girls 4 Harps, bring us a varied and imaginative programme of music for four harps – a heavenly vision indeed!

I first met Jeni Bern when she was a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and it has been a pleasure to follow her career on the operatic and concert stages. She is a charming and engaging performer, and will bring a varied programme of art song to entertain us. Her performance has been sponsored by a legacy gift from the estate of Margaret A Spooner, a longtime supporter of Abbotsholme Arts Society.

It is a great pleasure to be able to honour our Founder, Gordon Clark, with an appearance by the recipient of the 2019 Gordon Clark Scholar, the talented young violinist, Irène Duval, and we will also be presenting an afternoon of entertainment in the school theatre, given by the Derby Academy of Classical Dance.

Tickets can be purchased in advance or you can join the society with a subscription that will provide a saving on all the concerts. Further details including information about subscriptions and ticket prices can be obtained from the Secretary, Stuart Tetley, email:

I look forward to seeing you at our concerts!

Simon Crookall
Artistic Director

  • Leon McCawley

               Saturday 12 October, 2019 7:30 pm
    • Haydn
      Sonata in G Hob XVI:40
    • Schubert
      Sonata in C minor D958
    • Schumann
      Abegg Variations Op 1
    • Hans Gál
      Three Sketches Op 7 (1910)
    • Brahms
      4 Klavierstücke Op 119
    • Chopin
      Polonaise-Fantaisie Op 61

    One of Britain’s foremost pianists, Leon McCawley has forged a highly successful career since winning first prize in the 1993 International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna and second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in the same year. Since then, his concert performances and extensive discography have established him as a musician of great integrity and variety, bringing freshness and variety to Classical, Romantic and 20th century repertoire. His recent CD of Schubert Piano Music for SOMM Recordings is no exception. A regular at the BBC Proms and with leading orchestras across Europe, Leon is equally at home in recital.

    “This pianist’s intelligent and sensitive playing affords a good deal of listening pleasure” BBC Music Magazine, January 2019

    “McCawley knows how to gauge mood and colour. This is strong Schubert playing, the sort we might have had from Backhaus or Serkin” Classical Ear, November 2018

  • Jeni Bern with Tony Kraus

               Saturday 30 November, 2019 7:30 pm

    Jeni Bern is a lyric soprano of exceptional versatility. She has a “beautiful, clear and confident voice” and combines her superb musicianship with excellent acting skills and a vibrant personality.  A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and the Opera School of the Royal School of Music, she has won many major awards and prizes, including a Wingate Scholarship and the prestigious President Emerita Award. She is also a Samling Artist. Recent highlights include Lilli Vanessi/Katherine in Kiss Me Kate (directed by Jo Davies), Susie Trevor in Lady Be Good at the Teatro de la Zarzuela (directed by Emilio Sagi) and Fiordiligi in Phelim McDermott’s production of Così fan tutte for English National Opera.  As an accomplished oratorio and concert artist, Jeni is in demand with leading conductors and choral societies throughout the UK and Europe.

    Her programme includes art songs, lieder and operatic arias, with a little extra for St Andrew’s Day.

    This concert is in memory of Margaret A Spooner

  • Irène Duval with Angus Wilson

               Friday 10 January, 2020 7:30 pm
    • Brahms
      Sonata No 2 in A Op 100
    • Franck
      Sonata in A
    • Schumann
      Sonata No 2 in D minor Op 121

    The young French Korean violinist Irène Duval is the 2019 season’s Gordon Clark Scholar, recognised for her outstanding performance at last year’s Prussia Cove festival and has appeared frequently as a soloist throughout France and abroad. Born in 1992 to a French father and Korean mother, she has performed with renowned orchestras and performs regularly with pianist Pierre-Yves Hodique, cellist Aurélian Pascal and violinist Virgil Boutellis. She has had the opportunity to perform with Gidon Kremer, Steven Isserlis and Christian Tetzlaff at an international chamber music festival in Germany. Irène began the violin at the age of seven, studying with Jean-Jacques Kantorow and at CNSM of Paris with Roland Daugareil and Daria Hovora. From 2014 to 2017, she perfected her playing with Michaela Martin in Further Music Studies at Kronberg Academy and received artistic advice from internationally renowned musicians. In 2015 she recorded her first CD “Poèmes” for Mirare/Harmonia Mundi.

  • Simon Trpceski

               Monday 24 February, 2020 7:30 pm
    • Brahms
      Variationen über ein Thema von Robert Schumann Op 9
    • Liszt
      Soirées de Vienne - Neun Walzer Mach Schubert S427
    • Prokofiev
      Die Märchen del alten Großmutter Op 31
    • Mussorgsky
      Eine Nacht auf dem kahlen Berge
    • Prokofiev
      Piano Sonata No 7 in B Op 83

    Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski has established himself as one of the most remarkable musicians to have emerged in recent years, praised not only for his powerful virtuosity and deeply expressive approach, but also for his charismatic stage presence and commitment to strengthening Macedonia’s cultural image. Simon Trpceski is a frequent soloist with the major North American and European orchestras and in the 2017-18 season he undertook a three-concert residency at the Wigmore Hall, where he has a loyal and large following. An acclaimed recitalist, Mr Trpceski has given solo performances at major halls in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Munich, Prague, Hamburg, Bilbao, Istanbul, Dublin and Tokyo. Born in the Republic of Macedonia in 1979, Simon Trpceski is a graduate of the School of Music at the University of St Cyril and St Methodius in Skopje, where he studied with Boris Romanov. He was previously named a BBC New Generation Artist and in May 2003, he was honoured with the Young Artist Award by the Royal Philharmonic Society.

    This concert is supported by the Edward Saunders Legacy


  • Brodsky Quartet

               Sunday 29 March, 2020 3:00 pm
    • Wolf
      Italian Serenade
    • Puccini
    • Debussy
      String Quartet
    • Beethoven
      String Quartet Op 130

    Since its formation in 1972, the Brodsky Quartet has performed over 3000 concerts on the major stages of the world, and released over 60 recordings. A natural curiosity and insatiable desire to explore has propelled the group in many artistic directions, and continues to ensure them not only a place at the very forefront of the international chamber music scene, but also a rich and varied musical existence. Their energy and craftsmanship have attracted numerous awards and accolades worldwide, while ongoing educational work provides a vehicle for passing on experience and stating in touch with the next generation.

    This concert is supported by the Patrons of Abbotsholme Arts Society

    Photograph by Sarah Cresswell

  • 4 Girls 4 Harps

               Sunday 26 April, 2020 3:00 pm
    • Mendelssohn
      Incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream
    • Bizet
      Entr'actes I, II and IV from Carmen
    • Rimsky-Korsakov
      The young Prince and Princess from Scheherazade
    • Prokofiev
      Grand Waltz from Cinderella
    • Bernstein
      Overture to Candide
    • Massenet
      Scenes from L'histoire de Manon
    • Khachaturian
      Mazurka and Waltz from Masquerade Suite
    • Henriette Renié

    Eleanor Turner, Harriet Adie, Keziah Thomas, Elizabeth Bass

    Since their formation in 2000, 4 Girls 4 Harps have been heard in numerous venues and festivals in the UK and across Europe, delighting audiences with their dynamic performances and innovative repertoire. The quartet has featured on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Classic FM and Welsh television channel S4C.  4 Girls 4 Harps’ debut album ‘Fireworks and fables’ was released in 2009, showcasing their own arrangements of impressionist works by Ravel and Saint-Saëns as well as new works by the group’s own composers Harriet Adie and Eleanor Turner. Well received by critics, it led to broadcasts on national and international radio. 2015 saw the ensemble celebrate their 15th anniversary as a group. Alongside a full concert diary, they marked this milestone by premiering an exciting new commission, Tetra, composed by four female British composers. The commission was generously funded by the PRS for Music Foundation’s Women Make Music programme, The Ambache Trust and RV Williams Trust. In addition, they also founded the British Harp Chamber Music Competition (the only competition of its kind in the UK) to encourage other young harpists to perform chamber music and to champion the harp in a chamber music setting. 2020 will see the ensemble celebrate their 20th anniversary as a group.

  • Derby Academy of Classical Dance

               Sunday 17 May, 2020 7:30 pm

    Presenting an evening of imaginatively conceived and expertly performed dance, choreographed by the Academy’s Director, Eve Leveaux with piano accompaniment arranged by John Rooks.

    Tickets £10 includes a cold buffet.

    Wine is available for purchase.

    This is a fundraising event and not part of the concert series