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23rd September 2020

Exonians successfully launch open-air classical music festival

Exeter alumnae Betty Makharinsky (2012, Music) and Amelia Anderson (2012, Music) have launched a new open-air classical music festival, the Vache Baroque Festival. The inaugural festival featured two performances of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, on Friday 4 September and Sunday 6 September 2020.

Betty, a professional soprano, and Amelia, who works in marketing and press relations at the National Theatre, soon realised that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to have a profound impact on the arts, with opportunities for indoor arts performances likely to be restricted. Together with musician Jonathan Darbourne (Magdalen), they launched the Vache Baroque Festival in the grounds of the Vache, an historic stately home in Buckinghamshire, enabling audiences to enjoy classical music in the fresh air and safely spread out. The festival also aimed to bring classical music to new audiences.

Amelia explains: ‘As the pandemic continues to have a detrimental impact on the performing arts industry, it feels more important than ever to find innovative ways to provide artists with a stage and audiences with live entertainment. Our vision for the festival was to give young, emerging creatives a platform to create fresh and exciting interpretations of classic works, which hopefully in turn, will attract new and more diverse audiences to Baroque music.’

Audiences were welcomed to the grounds of the Vache ahead of the concerts, with picnicking encouraged and marvellous pre-show performances. In an effort to make the festival more accessible, a number of local school children and performing arts students were invited to watch the dress rehearsal free of charge.

The festival was a great success and it is hoped that it will run again in 2021.

You can listen to director Thomas Guthrie discussing the Vache Baroque Festival on Radio 3’s In Tune by clicking here. The radio programme is available to listen to in the UK until 2 October.

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