Het Stift, in the eastern Netherlands area known as Twente is where I grew up, after my parents moved there from London when I was three years old. It was the perfect place for my father to compose, surrounded by the peaceful beauty of this at that time recently restored small village around the 15th century Stiftkerk – one of the most beautiful and unique small churches in Holland. It also proved a wonderful place to grow up, and I would practice my violin overlooking the old oak trees and the church. It was the place I played my first recital, heard my father perform often and it’s very much connected to the family. So maybe it was inevitable that in 2004 the idea sprung up in my mind to start a festival there. The first edition was in August 2005, and the Festival has become something very close to my heart. My ideal is to bring together a colourful group of adventurous-minded musicians for a week in this extremely beautiful setting, and to strive for programmes which are full of contrasts, surprises and imagination, with plenty of space for both 20th century classics and new works.
Themes in recent years have been ‘Love and madness’. ‘Cities of dreams’, ‘Between Moldau and Danube’, ‘Heavenly and devilish passion’, and in 2015 it was LOVE – love in all it’s many facets, blissful, passionate, tender, heartbreaking, eternal, spiritual, impossible, joyous, grief stricken, love of nature ..Here’s the full programme, incuding works such as the Berg Violin Concerto, Franck Piano Quintet, several Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Crumb Vox Balenae, Schnittke Quintet, Brahms Horn Trio, Chausson Concerto, and various works by our Composer in residence, Marcelo Nisinman, including the world premiere of “Daniel’s Tango”, in Marcelo’s words “‘The piece is dedicated to Daniel Rowland, a portrait of himself I imagined. A barbarian-tango-love piece” … this made me very happy! In 2016 we celebrated ‘Freedom’.
The Stift Festival 2017 – ‘Invitation to the Dance’ – ran from 20th to 27th August, and it was fantastic fun! We are already looking forward to 2018! Watch this space for more news! It will be a great pleasure to see you in beautiful Twente next August.