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Purbeck Strings Festval 2015



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Purbeck Strings is a music charity aiming to make music accessible to all.

Susan Stanford the artistic director had the musical vision to create an opportunity for string players of all ages and abilities to play together alongside professionals.
Purbeck Strings have developed an annual programme of events of which the March Purbeck Strings Festival is the centrepiece.

To accommodate players of all abilities Purbeck Strings major initiative is to commission the composition of new music.

2006  March Purbeck Strings Festival - Songs and Dances of Spring  (world premiere) composed by Ian Pillow a local composer, conductor and member of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra viola section.

2007 March Purbeck Strings Festival  -Blues for a Blue Earth (world premiere) composed by Mike Westbrook of international fame in the jazz world.

2008 March Purbeck Strings Festival Going for Baroque

2009 March Purbeck Strings Festival Romantic Strings-Rhapsody (world premiere) by Sally Beamish

At the heart of the Festival is the professional London based Stanford Quartet who provide inspiration during their visits for regular Quartet Concerts and a high level of tuition when coaching on the String Quartet Course.


The Purbeck Festival Strings Deck Chair Concert on the town promenade is becoming a high profile part of the Swanage Carnival.



Purbeck Strings has its sights set on raising the profile of local string players and has taken another large step forward in achieving its goals thanks to a generous award from the Talbot Village Trust. The award has enabled Purbeck String to purchase a set of fine instruments that will be loaned to talented young musicians in the area. All the young string players who are offered the opportunity to borrow a fine instrument will have already proved their commitment by achieving at least a grade 5 standard   (making them a credit to themselves and their teachers). The instruments they borrow will be expressive enough to allow them to more easily reach higher levels and create the quality of sound needed for advanced performance.

Four talented young players will be offered the opportunity of borrowing the instruments that will be presented to them at a reception on the last day of Purbeck Strings Autumn Quartet Course.

2014 Instrument Loan Scheme Awards

Christopher Berry violin, Zoe Stiby violin, Amber Stiby viola Bonnie Schwarz, cello.


Music and CD library

Thanks to an award from the Talbot Village Trust, Purbeck Strings has been able to build a fantastic new resource for string players that is a library of music for string quartets, quintets and octets. Purbeck string players can now try out music that would be normally difficult for them to obtain. The music library is complemented by the recent generous donation, from a Friend of Purbeck Strings, of a CD library that includes recordings for most of the great string quartets with complete recordings of classical quartets by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven as well as a wide range of romantic and modern period compositions. Both libraries will be ready to be used by the time of the Purbeck Strings Quartet Course in October.


 Coming Up


Purbeck Strings Festival 14th and 15th of March 2015. Concerts in St. Mary’s Church Swanage.


This year’s Festival is a tenth anniversary celebration for Purbeck Strings.


The Stanford Quartet give a romantic candlelight concert on Saturday night with beautiful quartets by Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikowsky and Ravel on their programme. The concert is at 7.30 in St. Mary’s Church Swanage. The audience can enjoy a complementary glass of wine at the interval.


Ian Pillow the Festival’s conductor and composer will give a talk about the process of composing ‘Songs and Dances of Spring’ on Saturday morning in the Mowlem community room Swanage


'Songs and Dances of Spring' was written especially for Purbeck Strings in 2006 for the first annual festival. The songs are settings of seven spring poems by John Clare.

The scoring is for mezzo soprano, string quartet and string orchestra with special parts for less experienced players who are encouraged to play bird calls during the dawn chorus section.


The soloist Anna Huntley is a talented competition winning singer who has performed roles for the English National Opera, Welsh National Opera as well as giving many acclaimed concert performances and radio 3 recitals.


The Sunday afternoon concert opens with two of the finest works written for strings; Mozart’s youthful Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the evocative Elgar Serenade.

Bonnie Schwarz is a talented young cellist who is a Purbeck Strings Fine Instrument Award winner; she will be a featured young musician when she plays Chanson Triste by Anton Arensky. The concert is at 3.30pm in St.Mary’s Church Swanage.




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