Festival Week

Festival week is extraordinary. It’s busy, filled with music, friendship and much to think about. So much so that it can be easy to miss something quite fundamental … the passing of the seasons.


It is often thus, but this year more marked somehow than usual. The week started in beautiful sunshine (unlike last year). Musicians arrived, met their hosts and then sang an atmospheric first Compline; always magical, with a wonderful sound from only an afternoon of rehearsal.

The week grew on. Voices melded in harmony, clergy gave sermons and services to ponder on, villagers bustled to man the tea hut, steward in church, direct parking, host friends and singers in their homes, tend the flowers, tidy the church: always something to do.

And if you looked up to the escarpment and across the land, the combines were out, the tractors bowling back and forth laden with grain and the landscape was changing. Suddenly a field is bare, the straw towers standing sentry-like on the skyline. And then the field turns brown … the ground is turned, the sentries have heralded autumn. The air changes slightly during the week, but we often don’t notice, bound up in the Edington Festival spell as we are.  

Friends’ Day 2013
It was a real joy to see so many Friends on Saturday 24 August. As usual the day started with Solemn Eucharist, with The Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, Dean of Hereford preaching. We had a delicious lunch in the Festival Marquee at Millside. Unusually, though, we then held the AGM in the marquee. The BBC were to broadcast their early Sunday morning service on Radio 4 live from the Priory Church, which meant that setting up and rehearsals precluded anyone else being there for the afternoon.

There was a good attendance at the meeting where we listened to reports from the churchwardens about a very busy year, the Cheney Monument conservation survey which is currently underway with the final report due next year and much more besides.


We heard about the plans for the installation of the new organ and the works necessitated beforehand including removing the old water tank, which had been sited over the Henry Jones organ and putting its replacement in a less risky position and then voting to fund the enhancement of the current sound system. The Festival Director – before he had to rush off to church and the Beeb – gave a report on progress at Harrison and Harrison, describing the craftsmanship and care that goes into building such a complicated instrument. We also heard that the Henry Jones is going to an excellent new home in Tallin, Estonia. A grammar school there had contacted Robin Wilson and the organ team, discussions had progressed and it has been decided that our organ will be a gift to them as the first English organ in their country. The school will dismantle the old organ in January, footing the costs for that, the transport and rebuilding there. Indeed it was a joy to meet the Headmaster when he attended the Sequence of Music and Readings on Thursday night and witness his pleasure on hearing the voluntaries played that evening.

At the end of the meeting, it was disclosed that this would be the last year for the Festival Marquee to be sited in Mr and Mrs Tyler’s garden. It will be a quite a change for everyone after twenty two years, but Vera assured us she will be with us wherever we go! She was presented with a bouquet which could only be a very small token to show our huge appreciation of their generous hospitality over so many years.

Please note in your diaries that Friends Day 2014 will be on 23 August, when once again things will take a slightly different, though exciting, form as the focus will be the Dedication of the new organ. We will look forward to welcoming Friends old and new then - so if you’re not already a Friend, do consider joining us!

Hereford and Hymns
It was a delight to welcome the Dean of Hereford – the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor – to Edington on Friends’ Day this year. In January he had a “double whammy” of invitations from Susie, the Friends’ Secretary, and Ben Nicholas, the Festival Director, both of which he generously accepted. So in the morning he gave a very interesting sermon and then, in the afternoon, he joined us in the marquee to give a talk about hymn books, which at first could be thought rather a dry topic …  

Image reproduced by kind permission of
The Dean and Chapter of Hereford

Not so! As a musician himself, the Dean's talk - Herefordshire and Hymn Books: Two Commemorations. A glimpse at Ancient & Modern and English Hymnal - was both entertaining and informative. From his vast knowledge of hymns, the Dean quizzed us by singing the hymn and asking for the tune’s name: and there were some very knowledgeable people in the audience who knew them all! There were anecdotes and history relating to the two books, and to those who were instrumental in compiling them – Sir Henry Baker (A&M) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (English Hymnal) to name but two – as well as the books’ social impact and their links to Hereford. It was truly fascinating, and much too much to go into detail here.
We must thank the Dean for an enlightening and enjoyable end to the afternoon. We hope very much we might welcome him to the Festival again another year.
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