Unlike fellow festival director Richard Harker, I rarely give football a second thought. I am a tennis fan through and through, and eagerly anticipate a summer full of strawberries, fizz and squealing with delight as impossible shot after impossible shot is returned with power and style by the Big Four, simultaneously hoping that Murray will be having a great day and that Djokovic will suffer a rare dip in form. The beautiful game, though, has never held the same attraction for me. But even I was aware of Leicester City’s spectacular victory earlier this month. My stepfather has been a fervent supporter of the team his entire life, and yet I don’t think he ever considered this success a real possibility; with 5000-1 odds, who did?
Casting my thoughts back to preparations for Year One of the Voices of London Festival, I imagine the team and I felt similarly. We hoped to create an exciting and innovative schedule of events, a festival with the capability of real longevity. Yet we were acutely aware of festival giants such as the Proms and Spitalfields, and also of our own inexperience. Nevertheless, we find ourselves on the brink of Year Three, with an even more exciting array of events and performers than ever before.
Whilst forming the festival, we consulted a number of heads of department at the Royal Academy of Music, the advice of one of whom was “Keep the first year simple. Then for your second schedule, make sure you’ve got an internationally acclaimed choral group in the line up, perhaps the Tallis Scholars or the Gabrieli Consort.” Back in 2012, this seemed a farcical notion, but just a couple of years down the road, we’re thrilled that the Gabrieli Consort will indeed be part of the 2016 festival, performing a gorgeous secular programme of c20th British repertoire as our second event.
British music binds together this year’s performances, from Elgar’s poignant The Spirit of England to a sprightly commission from Jonathan Rathbone for our combined workplace choirs. But just like Leicester City fans, we don’t intend to be too British in hiding our enthusiasm for our lineup, and we hope you won’t, either. We warmly welcome you to the 2016 festival, an odds-on favourite for exhilarating summer music making.