Askham Hall Music Festival



Friday 23 – Monday 26 February 2018

Intimate concerts interwoven with enlightening lectures, convivial talks and gentle walks, and other good things await us again in Askham, Cumbria. Nestled between the Lakes and the northern part of the Pennine Range, Askham village is regarded by Pevsner as the prettiest in Westmorland. Askham Hall, our headquarters for this annual and special weekend, is a fine Grade I-listed house with a pele tower dating back to the 13c, now run as a comfortable and informal country house hotel. Inscape’s unique ‘Retreat’ pace and structure permits escape from the challenges of everyday existence into seamless days of talks, readings, occasional and optional excursions, rest, delicious chef-cooked meals, and, in the case of Askham, sublime music in ancient surroundings. This truly unique winter music festival takes place round the fire at Askham Hall and in the adjacent Askham Church.

Askham Hall on the Cumbrian estate of the Lowther family, Earls of Lonsdale is run by Charles Lowther, son of the 7th Earl Lonsdale; his winter birthday provides the occasion for the annual music festival. By an extraordinary set of ‘coincidences’, it was a Lowther for whom the Cumbrian poet William Wordsworth’s grandfather, Richard Wordsworth, worked from 1728; it was for a Lowther that the poet’s father, John Wordsworth, became steward in 1764; and a Lowther for whom the poet himself provided ‘political support’ in return for a life-saving ‘administrative’ position, a much-needed sinecure. We make an innovative study of Wordsworth’s work in the context of these pertinent Lowther connections.

For this third festival season Askham Festival’s talented Director of Music Noam Greenberg will focus on the brilliant music by Beethoven, born in 1770, the same year as Wordsworth. Nicholas Friend’s lectures on and readings of Wordsworth’s poetry will be complemented by a stunning programme of mainly Beethoven chamber music, beautifully punctuated with Schubert, Janacek and Winkelman. The programme will be played by Noam Greenberg, pianist; Adrian Brendel, cellist (and son of the superlative pianist); and Helen Winkelman, violinist and composer.