The renowned Petworth Festival returns from 12 to 28 of July

PUBLISHED: 17:50 21 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:28 20 February 2013

The renowned Petworth Festival returns from 12 to 28 of July

The renowned Petworth Festival returns from 12 to 28 of July

In this, his third year at the helm, Artistic Director Stewart Collins says the 16-day festival is a true community event.

Petworth Festival takes place annually, with a Literary Weekend each November, but for Artistic Director Stewart Collins preparation have already begun for next years event. You have to book performers very early to make sure you get the people you want, says Stewart. It is a funny process; by the time we get to this years festival I will have forgotten who is coming!

When he was appointed to the post, Stewart was very aware of the fundamental spirit of the festival. It has a reputation for high quality, small-scale events. Classical and chamber music have always been at the absolute core of what the festival is about and I have been incredibly careful to ensure that part of it is bolstered every year.

Stewarts remit was to bring extra breadth to the programme, and he duly increased the amount of jazz, cabaret and comedy. This year, he has chosen to focus on community involvement, so one of the opening performances is an ensemble piece; a lovely jazz cantata called Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo, which will feature 60 local schoolchildren and a chorus of local amateur singers. The performance follows a highly successful precedent; last year local schools collaborated with the Armonico Consort to stage a reconstruction of the coronation of Henry VIII.

Stewart hopes that this sense of family and community will broaden the festival : It gradually spreads the impact and inspiration of having wonderful performers and artists in the town. If there is something special about this years festival it is that aim of becoming more visible to everybody in and around Petworth.

The festival is a masterpiece of administrative effort. There will be 35 performances this year, two events each day. Its always tempting to put on more but we have to be realistic, says Stewart.

Last years runaway success was Jazz in the Stables at Petworth House. We were very fortunate to get permission to run a similar event this year, says Stewart. It is just such a fabulous event in wonderful surroundings; you could hardly better it for atmosphere.

Despite his obvious pride in this years programme he says on the festival website that it is the nearest imaginable reflection of my initial wish list Stewart is looking forward to two events in particular. There are two concerts that I saw a few months ago and just found so exciting. One is a tribute to Benny Goodman by the clarinettist Julian Bliss, which is music-making of the highest possible quality and joy. The other that I hope will be a really big seller is the wonderful adaptation of Mahlers 4th Symphony which has been reduced for 14 instruments. It completely keeps the character of the piece. To be there for that one will be a bit of a thrill.

Latest from the Sussex Life