Conchord at Rathfinny festival

Inaugural chamber music and wine weekend at the Sussex vineyard

Against the bucolic backdrop of the undulating Sussex hills, a new chamber music and wine festival at Rathfinny vineyard launches this year, in collaboration with the London Conchord Ensemble (first picture). The festival will have a different theme each year, and for the inaugural event festivities are based around the sea.

A collection of leading musicians will be performing and holding “in conversation” talks over a wine, food and music-filled three days, from June 12 to 14. The weekend opens with a gala black tie dinner on Friday night, where Rathfinny owners Mark and Sarah Driver will welcome guests to a sumptuous feast in the winery, accompanied by the Conchord Ensemble, who will perform pieces inspired by different wine regions – followed by avant-garde American composer George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale). The Sussex winery was built by the Drivers in 2010 and will be producing its first premium sparkling wine in 2017. “​I’m particularly excited about opening up our new RIBA-nominated winery to the public, to share the amazing programme on offer in what will be a completely unique experience,” says Sarah Driver.​

Saturday’s highlights include Mozart’s Piano Sonata for Four Hands, with an evening performance by English soprano and local resident Felicity Lott, who will be singing pieces by Britten, Debussy and Fauré.

Sunday sees soul-rousing works by some of the baroque greats, with pieces such as Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 5 in D Major and Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in E Flat.

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Another festival highlight will be a fusion of literature and music. Rhythm of Silence, written and devised by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, has been co-commissioned by The Charleston Trust and Rathfinny Wine Estate, and was inspired by works by both Virginia Woolf and Benjamin Britten. It will premiere at Charleston Festival and will later be performed at Latitude and Bath festivals.

Tickets can be bought for the entire weekend (£275) or for single performances, which range from £15 for a Sunday morning baroque coffee concert to £175 for the gala dinner.

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Classical music fans might also like to read about meticulously researched recordings of long-forgotten musical masterpieces or cast a gimlet eye on the garden opera world. For something knockout to wear to a summer concert, take a look at this sunset-hued eveningwear.

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