Battle Festival is a month long, annual arts and music festival running throughout October in Battle, East Sussex. Re-launched in 2014 after several years in hiatus, it now draws visitors from throughout the UK, western Europe and the US. With performances and exhibitions by internationally acclaimed, award-winning artists, the festival has received immense public and critical acclaim and world-wide attention.
Our patrons are Tim Rice-Oxley of Keane, conductor Sir Andrew Davies, and RSC and TV actor Anton Lesser.
Battle Festival is a registered charity and is managed by a small group of Trustees. For information on how to get in touch with us please visit the contact page.
One of Britain’s leading classical actors, Anton Lesser won the Gold Medal at RADA and has worked extensively at the National Theatre. He is an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he has played many principal roles including Romeo, Troilus, Hamlet and Richard III. Television appearances include major roles in Little Dorrit, The Politician’s Wife, Vanity Fair, Perfect Strangers, and Game of Thrones. Films include Charlotte Gray, Imagining Argentina, River Queen, Miss Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. A familiar voice on radio, he has been involved in countless plays and recordings, becoming particularly associated with his award-winning readings of Dickens, as well as recording works for audio CD by writers from Milton to Philip Pullman. In 2015 he appeared as Thomas Moore alongside Mark Rylance and Jonathan Pryce in the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall.
Sir Andrew Davis has served as music director and principal conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago since 2000, his contract recently being extended to the 2020-2021 season. In January 2013 Sir Andrew began his tenure as chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
He is also conductor laureate of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (having previously served as principal conductor), conductor laureate of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (his tenure was the longest since that of its founder Sir Adrian Boult) and former music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
In 1992, Maestro Davis was created a Commander of the British Empire for his services to British music. Seven years later he was made a Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours List. He was honored in 1991 with the Royal Philharmonic Society/Charles Heidsieck Music Award. He received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, in 2012.
Maestro Davis and his wife, soprano Gianna Rolandi, reside in Chicago.
Ivor Novello award winning songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley grew up in Battle and formed Keane with his life-long friends, Tom Chaplin and Richard Hughes, later inviting bassist Jesse Quin to join the fold.
Band members have recalled how, unlike today, Battle had no live music scene during the early stages of their careers. Chaplin recently stated how one of the few times the band received assistance from an experienced musician was during a chance encounter with rock legend Roger Daltry, who gave invaluable advice.
Now the table has turned and, as an internationally renowned musician himself, achieving five consecutive No1 albums with Keane, it’s Rice-Oxley’s turn to advise and mentor talented young musicians.
“I’m incredibly excited to have an opportunity to work closely with some of the young musicians in my hometown. I’ve been extremely lucky to have spent a lot of time writing, recording and playing live, and hopefully I’ve learned one or two things that will be helpful to the up-and-coming musicians I’ll be working with. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to something I feel so passionately about, in the town that has been such a big part of my life and Keane’s music.” Tim Rice-Oxley
We are delighted to announce one of the UK’s foremost chamber groups, The Primrose Piano Quartet, as our new ensemble-in-residence. For 2016 they gave three sold-out concerts over one weekend featuring popular classical music for all ages. The Quartet was formed in 2004 and enjoys a busy performing schedule in the UK and abroad with regular appearances at all major London concert venues. We very much look forward to working with them in the future.
Andrew Fuller has a busy and varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, guest principal, session musician and teacher. His duo partnership with Pianist Michael Dussek has had great success with concerts and recordings, their CDs of Cello works on the Dutton Vocalion label receiving critical acclaim, several being selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine.
He was Associate Principal with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years, leaving in 1997 to concentrate on solo and chamber music. Since then he has regularly worked as guest principal for the RPO as well as many other orchestras including the Philharmonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Hallé Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, Isis Chamber Orchestra, Opera Project and the Orchestra of St Johns.
As chamber musician he is also a member of Primavera. He has made many appearances at The Wigmore Hall and at festivals and music clubs around the world. He was a member of the York Piano Trio, the Fibonacci Sequence and Aquarius. He has also been a regular guest player with other Groups including the Sorrel, Brindisi and Coull String Quartets, Endymion and the Schubert Ensemble.
He was a visiting teacher at the Birmingham Conservatoire from 1997 to 2003 and regularly coaches at the Royal Academy of Music, many UK youth orchestras and at chamber music festivals.
Dorothea Vogel was born in Switzerland and studied with Rudolf Weber in Winterthur. After winning first prize in the Swiss Youth Competition, she won scholarships to study with Paul Coletti at the Peabody Institute, USA, and with David Takeno and Micaela Comberti at the Guildhall School in London, where she graduated with the coveted Concert Recital Diploma. She was a founder member of the Amar Quartet. Dorothea has played the baroque viola in the Kings Consort and Florilegium and has been both principal viola in the Gustav Mahler Orchestra and the World Youth Orchestra in Israel. She has appeared as a soloist with the Zurich Kammerorchester and at London’s Wigmore Hall.
In 2001 Dorothea joined the Allegri String Quartet, one of the UK’s longest-standing chamber groups, with whom she enjoys a busy performing, touring and recording schedule.
She teaches Chamber Music at Pro Corda as well as festivals throughout the UK. Her viola is by Ludovico Rastelli, Genoa, circa 1800.
John Thwaites has a varied performing career. He has been working with Alexander Baillie for thirty years. They appeared in the first and last Manchester International Cello Festivals, released a rjohnecital CD in 2000, and selected live performances in 2009.
Another long-standing association is with Sue Lowe’s Cello Schools, and John has performed with Johannes Goritzki, Louise Hopkins, Pierre Doumenge, Li Wei, Oleg Kogan, Melissa Phelps, Alexander Ivashkin and Alexander Boyarsky. Alongside relationships with the Schidlof, Maggini, Emperor, Martinu and Brodsky Quartets, a performance of Lyapunov’s Sextet with the Dante Quartet on Dutton Digital was BBC Music Magazine’s chamber music choice for November 2004.
John is also a member of the Audley Horn Trio (Stanzeleit, Stirling, Thwaites) and the Da Vinci Piano Trio (Moffatt, Irvine, Thwaites). Recent concerto performances include Grieg at St John’s Smith Square and Tchaikovsky at the Royal College of Music.
Formerly Head of Piano at Christ’s Hospital, Professor at the Royal Scottish Academy and a tutor at GSMD, John is now Head of Keyboard Studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire and Course Director of Cadenza International Summer Music School, a piano and strings festival resident at the Purcell School, London, in July.
Leon Bosch has an honoured place among the select group of virtuoso double bass players worldwide. Concerto engagements in many parts of the world with the likes of conductors Pinchas Zukerman, Nicolas Kraemer, Nicolae Moldoveanu and Guido Johannes Rumstadt have been matched by collaborations with a long line of leading chamber music groups – among them the Lindsay, Belcea and Brodsky string quartets, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, the Moscow Virtuosi and the Zukerman Chamber Players. Partnerships with solo performers have embraced such pianists as Peter Donohoe, Vladimir Ovchinikov, Mikhail Rudy and Maria João Pires.
Leon Bosch has a growing discography of concerto and recital recordings. This will shortly include two albums devoted to the music of the great Giovanni Bottesini and two featuring music by British composers. Then will follow everything from a disc of Russian music and another of compositions by Domenico Dragonetti, to the complete works for solo double bass by Dittersdorf, Menotti’s concerto and recordings of a string of neglected concertos for the instrument. Andrew Green
Devoted to the double bass
‘I have no doubt that the double bass and I were made for each other – we’re completely inseparable and the music we make together brings me unbridled joy! It has always been my mission in life to defend the cause of the underdog and my passion for the double bass, the ‘Cinderella’ of instruments, will never die.
Every note I play on the instrument embraces my life experiences, both in Europe and in my South African homeland. I’ve known love and comradeship, but also witnessed the epitome of hatred. I’ve felt both shining optimism and deep despair. I’ve benefited from the pleasures of civilised society, but also seen the destructive impact of poverty and ignorance. I’ve been privileged to stand side by side with people who’ve lost their lives in the defence of their principles.
It’s difficult to explain exactly how life’s experiences distil into your music-making, but they most certainly do. First you have to face the fact that playing well is 98% perspiration – all the hard work that’s done in private. But then, when the day of the performance arrives, you’re looking to access that other, magical 2%, which is all about freedom and spontaneity – improvisation, almost. And what you have to draw on is the story of your life – in feelings, emotions and colours.
What you hope is that thereby you link to the mind of the composer. No phrase, or even a single note, should be allowed to pass by perfunctorily …it’s the performer’s solemn duty to seek to understand what the composer intended and then to express that unique personal understanding as if one’s very life depended upon it.
What is the point otherwise?
When I play the bass at least, I am a totally free human spirit.’
Renowned as a soloist and chamber musician world-wide, Susanne Stanzeleit is well known for her unusually challenging and extensive repertoire, featuring many commissions and UK premieres of works by composers such as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Anthony Payne, John Adams, Lou Harrison, Gyorgy Kurtág, Dmitri Smirnov, John Casken, Piers Hellawell, Jacques Cohen, Peter Fribbins, Sally Beamish, John Woolrich, Philip Cashian, Louis Andriessen, Rebecca Saunders and many more.
From 2008-2013 Susanne was leader of the Maggini Quartet, one of the finest and most recorded string quartets in the UK today. She also led the Werethina String Quartet for many years and the Edinburgh String Quartet between 1999-2002. She is in high demand as guest-leader of many of the foremost chamber orchestras, ensembles and contemporary music groups in the UK. A popular chamber musician, she has performed with eminent artists such as Gervase de Peyer, Eduard Brunner, Zara Nelsova, Colin Carr, Raphael Wallfisch, Alexander Baillie, Steven Doane, Norbert Brainin and Michael Collins, as well as regular pianist partners, Gusztàv Fenyö and Julian Jacobson. In 2003 she founded the Primrose Piano Quartet together with Robin Ireland, Andrew Fuller and John Thwaites.
Susanne has received rave reviews and a Gramophone Award nomination for her long list of commercial recordings, which feature the complete works of Bartók, Enescu, Delius and Dvoràk as well as Beethoven violin sonatas, works by Charles Camilleri and a series of English sonata recordings. Chamber discs include six discs with the Edinburgh Quartet, chamber music by Kenneth Leighton and the première recording of piano quartets by Hurlstone, Alwyn, Scott and Dunhill within two discs of British piano quartets with the Primrose Quartet, all on Meridian. Recent releases feature music by Arnold Cooke, the chamber works of Richard Strauss, a disc of Brahms and Faure and a disc of commissions by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Dmitri Smirnov, John Casken, Piers Hellawell, Sally Beamish and others. Susanne Stanzeleit studied with Leonid Kogan, Nathan Milstein, Vesselin Paraschkevov, Yfrah Neaman, Sándor Végh and Gyorgy Kurtág, and she is regularly invited to teach and give masterclasses at many UK music colleges and summer schools such as Dartington, Cadenza, Paxos, Ayton, Paxton and others. From 1993-2000 she was visiting lecturer of violin and chamber music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, and between 2002 – 2006 Head of Strings at the London College of Music and Media. She now teaches violin and chamber music at the Birmingham Conservatoire.