Concerts at Cratfield began as a series of chamber concerts founded in 1987 by David and Linda Holmes, initially at the Walpole Old Chapel and Halesworth, before moving in 1991 to St Mary’s Church, Cratfield. In 1993, a charitable trust, Blyth Valley Chamber Music, was created, by which time the format of six fortnightly Sunday afternoon summer concerts was firmly established. A highlight of their 13 years was a cycle of all 15 Shostakovich string quartets, played by the Sorrel Quartet over one weekend in September 1999.
The Sorrel returned in 2007 to give the world première of a specially commissioned string quartet by Simon Rowland-Jones, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Blyth Valley Chamber Music. We commissioned another new string quartet in 2011, this time from Timothy Salter, which had its first public performance at Cratfield from the Sacconi Quartet. In 2013 came the song-cycle Landscape with Three People from Elena Langer for two high voices and small ensemble, now recorded commercially and available for purchase: click here for more details.
In 2016, we adopted a new official name, Concerts at Cratfield, and became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).
Building a concert season
Each season, we aim to include well-known combinations of instruments for which there is an abundant repertoire, such as the string quartet and piano trio, with less usual groups of instruments whose repertoire may be smaller, but well worth hearing. We also try to balance in each concert what could be called ‘core’ repertoire with new or less well-known works. Our definition of ‘chamber music’ is broad enough to include occasional concerts of vocal works and of pre-classical music for small ensembles.
We have close and long-standing relationships with many leading groups and artists, who we are delighted to welcome back to Cratfield. At the same time we are eager to invite up and coming young artists to enjoy the experience of playing at Cratfield. In every season, the music itself is the focus of all our efforts.
We have no paid employees, so our activities depend entirely on the energy and goodwill of volunteers. They are our Trustees, run the Box Office, distribute publicity, collect musicians from the train and make sure there is lunch for them, number the seats, hire a keyboard instrument when needed (pianos usually from Andrew and Jill Giller at The Old Granary, harpsichords from Alan Gotto), write, edit and print the programme for each concert, welcome concertgoers, organise car parking and tidy the church after each concert.
We have a close partnership with the church at Cratfield. Church helpers organise the famous teas in each concert interval, and our concerts support the church financially via a tithe on our ticket receipts. We made special efforts to raise funds for repair of the church roof, damaged by the theft of lead in December 2015.
Ticket receipts, which cover only about two-thirds of our expenses, are generously supplemented by regular contributions from our Friends and Patrons. Each group gains priority booking, an invitation to the Annual General Meeting and occasional special events. We are also grateful for the generosity of supporters who have sponsored individual concerts or financed other elements of our costs.
The Annual General Meeting held in April each year reviews the previous season, considers the annual reports and accounts, looks ahead to the new season and appoints Trustees for the following year, followed by a convivial lunch.
Concerts at Cratfield CIO is a registered charity, no 1169617, governed by a Constitution approved by the Charity Commission.The registered address of Concerts at Cratfield CIO is 29 South Entrance, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 1DG.
We adopted a new version in 2016 of our Data Protection Statement. Click here to download it in PDF format.
Show your support
Please help us to guarantee the future of our concerts by becoming a Friend or Patron through an annual subscription, whose value to us can be 25% greater if you qualify for Gift Aid. Click here to access the form.