Islington Festival of Music and Art

Bravely going ahead when Covid rules were still in a state of flux, the Islington Festival of Music an Art took place across the last weekend in July, 22 – 25 July 2021. Organised by violinist Joana Ly and pianist/conductor Martin André the Festival saw thirteen events take place across five venues in the borough – and I was there to photograph a few! Starting with their opening performance at Christ Church Highbury.

In a summer which has been, well, a little damp, the musicians battled through heatwave conditions to perform the rarely heard Adolphe Blanc String Quintet and Schubert’s popular ‘The Trout’ Quintet to a full house. The church made a beautiful backdrop to both the concert and interval drinks outside.

For the first time this August I was relieved when the sun went down, and we moved on to the late night concert at Newington Green Meeting House featuring the Flauguissimo Duo (Yu-Wei Hu on baroque flute, Johan Löfving on theorbo) performing.

My camera and I returned to the Festival on Saturday, when singer Norbert Meyn brought his fascinating programme of ballads written by musicians fleeing the Nazis to South Arcade Islington Square. He’s an excellent performer to watch and really drew in the passing crowds.

Happily whistling Mack the Knife, I sped back to the Newington Green Meeting House where art tutor Dolph van Eden ran a drawing class with Joana Ly and her violin modelling.

The day wrapped up with Sofia Sousa (violin), Stephen Williams (clarinet), Nathan Tinker & Martin André (piano) performing at Christ Church Highbury, and then a late night concert at No 20 Arts featuring historic performance specialist Kati Debretzeni on baroque violin. There’s a longer set of images from the late concert on No 20 Arts website.

Sofia Sousa at Christ Church Highbury
Stephen Williams at Christ Church, Highbury
Kati Debretzeni at No20 Arts

I took a break the next afternoon as the rest of the organisers and volunteers put on another two events, before I rejoined them for the final concert. Sergio Bucheli (lute) and Samuel Staples (baroque violin) closed the Festival amongst the wonderful Victoriana of The Old Queen’s Head pub.

A huge thanks to Joana and Martin for inviting me to be part of the Festival – it is unbelievable that they managed to achieve all of that in what has been a difficult year for live music. The Islington Festival of Music and Art plans to return next year – keep an eye on their website for details.