COMING UP: Iffley Festival

By Giles Woodforde

Iffley may be surrounded by Oxford, but it is still very much an individual village. It comes complete with its own music festival, which this year will be staged in Iffley Church Hall from February 12 to 14. The festival is the brainchild of Iffley resident Michael Bordeaux, and in past years it has reflected his enthusiasm for promoting Russian musical talent.

"I was a member of the first ever group of exchange students which the British Council sent to Moscow University from 1959-60," Michael explained. "That was a ground-breaking experience. I had done theological training - I was going to go into the priesthood - and I was so terrified by the strength of the Soviet regime's campaign against the church that I thought I should do more study on the subject. Eventually it became my career. Now things are very different, and I've been able to build up some wonderful connections with young Russian performers."

Veronika Ilinskaya

Russian music and musicians feature strongly, with piano recitals by Veronika Ilinskaya (pictured)and Lada Valešová (Czech, but Russian trained) performing Russian and Czech repertoire on February 13. The two recitals on February 14 feature Oxfordshire musicians Jessica Hayes (cello) and Anna Smith (viola), but they will also highlight Russian repertoire.

The festival opens with a world-class musical partnership - James Gilchrist (tenor), and Anna Tilbrook (piano). "Anna was booked to come and play with somebody else," Michael Bordeaux told me. "But because of an unfortunate double booking that was nobody's fault, she said perhaps she could bring James Gilchrist instead. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the email!"

Prices have had to be increased for this concert, which includes Schumann's Dichterliebe and a whole range of other composers, but tickets are expected to sell fast nonetheless.