As a newcomer to Spitalfields Music, I was a little nervous but all of the staff and volunteers were very welcoming. Being a festival steward involved a variety of tasks each night. I welcomed people outside the church, sold programmes and showed people to their seats. There were some pretty big turn-outs at the concerts, so we were all kept busy beforehand!
The acclaimed Italian ensemble La Venexiana began the second half of the festival with Monteverdi madrigals. The sheer beauty of this Italian genius’ music and the blend of voices seemed to go down very well with the audience. Thursday was probably the highlight of the January concerts for me, the acclaimed tenor Paul Agnew gave a highly informative lecture-recital about the development of recitative. I didn’t know much about this topic, so it was interesting to hear from a specialist baroque singer. The programme was really varied and dramatic and made me realise how important recitative is in opera. Friday gave us two concerts, the first the exciting vocal group EXAUDI, who also sang Monteverdi madrigals. Again, another hit with the audience. The a capella sound certainly suited the acoustics of Christ Church Spitalfields. Then, the Retrospect Ensemble ended the Festival on a real high as they presented a selection of virtuosic instrumental works from Monteverdi’s contemporaries. I was totally amazed by the inventive writing of these composers and the skill of the performers.
So, all in all, three wonderful nights. Being a steward is very enjoyable and I would definitely recommend volunteering, if you’d like to do something good for the paying public and see concerts given by some of the best artists in the business. Roll on the Summer Festival!
Spitalfields Music Festival Steward