Ripon International Festival
Co-Founder and Artistic Director: Janusz Piotrowicz
Co-Founder, Director & Administrator: Susan Goldsbrough (pictured below)
President: Sir Derek Jacobi Vice President: Barrie Price
Patrons: The Archbishop of York The Marquess of Zetland Baroness Masham of Ilton Dame Jude Kelly
Ripon International Festival is a project of The World Trust
Reg. Charity No. 1003265 Founder Janusz Piotrowicz
Trustees: Rt Hon Baroness Cox - Chairman Diana Brass Michael E. D. Brook Reverend Paul Spurgeon
History of the Festival
Ripon International Festival was founded in 1997 by international pianist and conductor Janusz Piotrowicz and classical music promoter Susan Goldsbrough
The inaugural festival took place in September 1998. The programme included a Symphony Concert by Manchester Camerata, the world-famous Lindsay Quartet, the Yorkshire Building Society Band – reigning European Champions, recitals, poetry and puppetry. The Festival made an immediate impact on the region and drew unanimous appreciation for its quality and variety.
Ripon Cathedral is its focal point, providing the magnificent setting, warm ambience and kind acoustic loved by musicians and audiences. Its cornerstones are the orchestral concerts conducted by Janusz Piotrowicz, whose profound musical insight and energy produces revelatory performances. He has invited some of the finest orchestras in the country to perform the great symphonic repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Sibelius, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky as well as choral works from Bach to Arvo Pärt, with choral contributions from Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and the Rodolfus Choir. The London Bach Orchestra, Goldberg Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hallé have all graced the festival with their fine musicianship. Performances of particular note include Miklos Perenyi in the Dvorak Cello Concerto with Northern Sinfonia; Shostakovich 10 with Opera North; Mahler 1 and Shostakovich 5 with the RLPO “ it [Shostakovich 5] was given a superb performance … though our lasting memory will be of the sheer power Janusz unleashed” Yorkshire Post 2005, a searing Tchaikovsky Pathétique with the Hallé in 2011, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Alexandra Soumm) and Brahms 1 at the Royal Hall in 2013, a monumental Rachmaninov 2nd Symphony with the Halle at the Royal Hall in 2014 and Beethoven’s Eroica with the London Mozart Players in 2015.
Another major achievement was to secure one of the finest choirs in Europe for the 2004 festival. The thirty-eight members of the St. Nikolai Church Choir of the State Tretyakov Gallery Moscow “astonishingly young, but their voices are as old as time” (The Times) gave a breathtaking performance of the Rachmaninov Vespers in the year which marked the 400th Anniversary of the granting of the City’s Charter by King James I.
A stream of stage and literary celebrities has also run through the programme: Sir Derek Jacobi (the Festival’s President), Geraldine McEwan, Michael Pennington, Richard Pasco, Barbara Jefford, Rohan McCullough, Liverpool Poet Adrian Henri, Michael Holroyd, Wendy Cope and Simon Armitage are among those who have appeared in Ripon. Other popular events have included John Williams guitar, Japanese Taiko drummers, puppet theatre, Zulu dance, song and drums, jazz and folk concerts.
The Festival also reaches out into rural areas, staging events in ancient village churches and great houses up to twenty miles distant, such as St. Mary’s Nun Monkton, one of Yorkshire’s architectural jewels, and Markenfield Hall, the superbly restored fortified medieval manor.
Over the years the Festival has steadily developed the scope of its programme and built a strong following from throughout the northern region and from as far afield as the South of England and the North of Scotland with occasional visitors from overseas. Spring concerts were added in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 attracting capacity audiences. The part played by local companies and individuals as sponsors and volunteers continues to be a vital factor in its success.