HEXHAM Abbey Festival of Music and Arts will take place next week.

The event will run from September 16 to September 17 at Hexham Abbey.

This year’s programme is in a slimmed down format, after the 2020 festival was cancelled due to Covid-19.

The ever-popular Candlelight Concert will play at 7.30pm on Thursday in the Abbey and features The Marian Consort, fresh from their debut at this year’s BBC Proms.

Presenting a musical tribute to the Queen of Heaven – the Blessed Virgin Mary – the programme spans the vocal music of five centuries, from Josquin to James Macmillan, and includes music by Hexham’s own Ben Rowarth, ex-chorister of Hexham Abbey. Tickets are unreserved and cost £20.

The second event, on Friday, showcases acclaimed Baroque specialists Rachel Stroud (baroque violin), Jacob Garside (viola da gamba) and John Green (harpsichord) who join forces for a musical journey from the Baltic to Brescia and back, exploring the origins and development of the violin sonata repertoire. Organisers say the programme is a mix of German and Italian sonatas and includes works by Buxtehude, Schmelzer, Castello, Rognoni, Fontana and Frescobaldi. There will be two performances in the Great Hall of Hexham Abbey at 1pm and 4pm. Tickets are unreserved and cost £15.

John, based in Hexham, has performed many times for previous festivals and the Hexham and District Music Society. It is the first festival for Jacob and Rachel, born in Newcastle. As a teenager she was a founding member of The Weekend School at Sage Gateshead, leader of Young Sinfonia, and an enthusiastic member of the Swingbridge Singers.

She now works professionally as a freelance violinist alongside her academic work and is in demand as a musical director and lecturer.

Joint artistic director, Martin Hughes, said: “‘The festival is delighted to be able to play its part in the current re-emergence of live performance in Hexham and give a platform to world class musicians, some of whom are deeply connected to our own region. A treat not to be missed.”

Joint artistic director, Denis McCaldin, added: “After so many months without live music, it’s wonderful to be presenting our latest Hexham Abbey Festival once more.”

The festival wishes to thank this year’s sponsors, Parmley Graham Limited, and Chris and Jennifer Britton for their kind and generous support.

Due to social distancing, ticket numbers will be limited. Early booking is strongly recommended.

Tickets can be booked either over the phone (01434 652477) or in person at the Queen’s Hall Box Office, Beaumont Street, Hexham, Monday to Saturday, 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm. Online bookings can be made at www.queenshall.co.uk (online booking fee applies).

For more information about the festival programme, visit www.hexhamabbeyfestival.org.uk.

Hexham Abbey Festival was founded in 1953 by Sir Humphrey Noble and a small band of enthusiastic supporters. The festival normally takes place annually in September.

Many world famous musicians and performers have graced the stage of the festival over the years, including Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, George Malcolm and The King’s Singers, and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage in 2018.