2024 festival hits new highs

By Sarah Hard

This year’s Petersfield Musical Festival sold a record number of tickets and attracted an unprecedented number of participating musicians, delighting audiences from all walks of life during a nine day celebration of variety of musical styles and genres. 

A total of eleven concerts were given: over 2,100 tickets sold, 766 performers took part (including 345 students from eleven local schools), and an incredible 13 conductors, five choirs, four orchestras, one consort, a jazz sextet and a boy band trio took to the stage. The Festival closed on Saturday 23rd March with a rousing choral concert of English music to a capacity audience.

‘What a magnificent Festival, with music from Mozart to Moanin’, pop ballads to organ fugues, we had it all. Truly a community event with inspirational soloists enjoyed by performers and audience of all ages’ said Pam Buckley, PMF Chairman.

One undoubted highlight was the special presentation by Petersfield Mayor JC Crissey to the retiring musical director and former chairman Philip Young during the all-Mozart concert on 16th March. Philip served on the PMF committee for forty years, with two spells as chairman, and was awarded a Town Mayor’s Medal in front of the Festival choir, orchestra and a packed audience.

Mayor Crissey said: ‘this honour is well deserved and based on more than forty years with the Festival. In so doing (Philip) has treated generations of Petersfield residents with musical gold.’ PMF was also chosen by JC Crissey as one of his mayoral charities in 2023/24 and Chairman Pamela Buckley was presented with a cheque for £1,000 from the Mayor the following Saturday.

The presentation of the special Mayoral medal, of which only twelve have ever been awarded, was greeted with resounding warm applause from the audience, bearing testimony to Philip’s popularity and his extraordinary contribution to the musical life of the local community, particularly his pioneering of the Youth and Family concerts which have given young performers an opportunity to develop their skills and sometimes gain their first exposure to music. Many of these youngsters have gone on to become professional musicians performing in the Festival and wider world beyond.

Philip also received a bottle of bubbles and a substantial cheque from a grateful audience and committee members as well as from the general public. It was a magnificent send-off as he steps down from the PMF.

In another success story, the Festival hosted three small scale concerts in St. Peter’s Church. The first showcased young musicians who have received financial help from the Michael Hurd Fund; entry was free but the retiring collection raised over £800 for the Fund. The second was performed by the gemini consort, and raised over £1,000 for the Rosemary Foundation in memory of its founder and Petersfield stalwart, Ann Pinhey: see Festival President Jonathan Willcocks’ review for more details. The third was an organ recital by renowned choral conductor Richard Pearce.




Photo: The presentation by Petersfield Mayor JC Crissey to the retiring musical director and former chairman Philip Young.