Summer 2014 at Alwinton Church

The organisers of Alwinton Church Summer Concerts 2014 and its Artistic Director John Casken are delighted to announce the details of our exciting 2014 season.

Tickets are now available. Please see our Box Office page for details.

We are also pleased to announce a National Composers' Competition. Three scores will be selected for a workshop in Alwinton Church on Saturday 31 May and the winning work will be performed by members of Psappha in their evening concert, and in a future concert to be given by the ensemble in Manchester.

Alwinton is a remote, rural village in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland, and the concert series has established itself as one of the major cultural events in the North-East of England. The church is set apart from the village and surrounded by beautiful and dramatic landscape.

PSAPPHA's concert will include Stravinsky's own arrangement of music from The Soldier's Tale, John Casken's Winter Reels, and Peter Maxwell Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King. Three scores will be selected for a workshop in Alwinton Church on 31 May after which the winning work will be chosen for performance.

Sunday 11 May, 3.00pm


Quatuor Danel are based in Brussels and also String Quartet in Residence at The University of Manchester. They have won a number of awards and their recordings of Debussy and the complete quartets of Weinberg have been singled out for critical acclaim. The programme unusually includes two strings quintets, with John Casken's short Inevitable Rifts and one of the greatest masterpieces of all chamber music, Schubert's late String Quintet. Debussy's early and impassioned String Quartet is a work that clearly shows the young composer's debt to Grieg, Wagner and Borodin, but also the new influences of church modes and gamelan.

  • Debussy - String Quartet (1893)
  • John Casken - Inevitable Rifts (string quintet) (2009)
  • Schubert - String Quintet 1828)

Saturday 31 May, 7.30pm


Conductor John Casken

One of the UK's leading contemporary music ensembles in a programme that brings elements of music theatre to Alwinton, including the familiar and catchy music of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale, arranged by the composer for a small ensemble, and a semi-staged performance of Peter Maxwell Davies' extraordinary and ground-breaking work based on the madness of King George III, Eight Songs for a Mad King. Between these two works is a recent work by John Casken, commissioned by Psappha and first performed in 2011, a work that offers a personal way of uniting Northumbrian landscape with music. This concert also includes the winning work from our new initiative - a national Composers' Competition.

  • Stravinsky - The Soldier's Tale Suite (arr. by Stravinsky for cl., vn., pf.) (1918)
  • Winning work from Composers' Competition
  • John Casken - Winter Reels (20011)*
  • Peter Maxwell Davies - Eight Songs for a Mad King for baritone and ensemble (1969)

For further information about Psappha, to hear recordings and see videos, visit

Saturday 21 June, 7.30pm


Directed by James Lancelot

A programme of sacred choral music from this young group of singers based at Durham Cathedral under the direction of the Cathedral's Master of the Choristers and Organist, James Lancelot. To include Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor plus Tudor organ pieces.

Saturday 12 July, 7.30pm


A concert by the acknowledged master of the English concertina with his group of musicians in a programme of Northumbrian music including Alistair's A Lindisfarne Gospel, a work that draws on the roots of Northumbrian tradition to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospels and that corner of the north which nurtured them. The interweaving knot work of the "carpet pages" is reflected in intertwining musical textures featuring fiddles, harp, concertina, cello and Northumbrian pipes, and the wide-skied landscape of Lindisfarne is echoed in emotive slow airs.

" 'A Lindisfarne Gospel' is one of Anderson's most heartwarming creations, a carefully weighted and beautifully structured continuous instrumental piece composed to mark the return of the 1300 year-old Lindisfrane Gospels to Northumberland."   Review in fROOTS

The concert will include some of the older Northumbrian traditional music which underpins this exciting new composition alongside some of Anderson's other compositions.

Concerts Planning Team

  • John Casken, Chairman and Artistic Director
  • Kate Hazelwood, Secretary
  • Dick Hazelwood, Treasurer
  • Graham Stacy, Ticketing Manager
  • John Smalley, Fundraising
  • Lorna Aiken, Team Member
  • Rev. Michael Boag, Team Member

The Planning Team reserves the right to make changes to these programmes should circumstances arise.

The 2014 series is supported by Northumberland National Park, The Sir Michael Tippett Musical Foundation, Upper Coquetdale Resource Group and Barter Books.

Alwinton Church Summer Concerts - Registered Charity No. 1140527