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Tour Director
Practical Information

  • Enjoy six exclusive chamber music concerts over four days in the beautiful surroundings of Suffolk’s Hintlesham Hall

  • Complementary works by Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge, Rebecca Clarke and others surround a core of Romantic repertoire by Schumann and Elgar

  • Visit two excellent local art galleries: Christchurch Mansion, home to works by Constable and Gainsborough, and the Munnings Art Museum 

Edward Elgar was born a year after the death of Robert Schumann but his musical language is rooted in the same Romantic tradition. Their magnificent chamber music for piano and strings lies at the heart of this autumn tour, with performances by the acclaimed Pixels Ensemble and presented by conductor and lecturer Michael Downes, who is currently writing a new biography about Elgar for Oxford University Press.


From the understated elegance of Schumann’s Childhood Scenes to the warmth and majesty of Elgar’s Piano Quintet, experience the finest chamber music in the glorious setting of historical Grade I listed Hintlesham Hall. Across four days, we will hear six varied chamber music programmes, each with their own unique flavour: dark, sweeping piano trios, exquisite miniatures for violin and piano, evocative Fairy Tales and full-blooded masterpieces for piano quintet. Alongside eight works each by Elgar and Schumann, the programmes are broadened by sympathetically contrasting music by Frank Bridge, Angela Morley, Rebecca Clarke and Richard Rodney Bennett; with Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending (in his own version for violin and piano) and Six Studies in English Folksong marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.


Woven around the music will be a series of talks from experienced conductor, writer and musicologist Michael Downes, who is currently working on a new biography of Elgar for Oxford University Press. Michael will help to introduce the music while concentrating on key themes including the role of chamber music in the lives of Elgar and Schumann and the significance of their Piano Quintets. Two daytime visits to impressive regional art collections will complete our tour: the former home of Sir Alfred Munnings, a contemporary of Vaughan Williams and famous for his equine pieces; and Christchurch Mansion – a wonderful Tudor building filled with works by Constable and Gainsborough and a particularly compelling complement to the Romantic works we will experience in our concerts.


Our Accommodation
Surrounded by leafy grounds near the village of Hintlesham just outside Ipswich, Hintlesham Hall is a beautiful Grade I listed 16th century country house hotel boasting a Georgian facade and a myriad of original features from sash windows to wood-panelled walls and a 17th century oak staircase. Described by The Telegraph as "traditional but friendly", the hall retains both a luxurious and comfortable atmosphere, and we are particularly delighted to be using its stunning Salon for our concerts.


Pixels Ensemble

Pixels Ensemble was created in 2016 by pianist Ian Buckle, drawing together some of the finest chamber musicians, orchestral principals and soloists in the UK. Rapidly establishing a firm presence at venues such as Liverpool’s outstanding new Tung Auditorium, Pixels Ensemble are a firm favourite at Stapleford Granary where their concerts are regularly hailed as ‘unforgettable’ and ‘astonishing’ by returning audiences. The Guardian has applauded them for playing with “finely judged detail, expansiveness and lots of heart”, and Musical Opinion remarked on their “insight and a sense of perspective” and “fabulously detailed sound”. Pixels Ensemble bring a wealth of knowledge to this Romantic repertoire, rooted in many years of performing experience and a deep, shared passion for the music and its composers.


Key Performers 


Ian Buckle maintains a varied freelance career working as a soloist, accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist and teacher; and is an examiner with ABRSM. He is the founder and director of Pixels Ensemble and is co-Artistic Director at Stapleford Granary.


Thelma Handy has been Joint Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, directing the orchestra and appearing as a soloist on many occasions. She regularly plays in Ensemble 10/10, with whom she has premiered numerous new works.


Alex Holladay joined the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007, having previously been a member of the Lawson Piano Trio. He frequently works with the Aurora Orchestra, recently appearing as Principal Cello in the BBC Proms.


Kate Romano has had a 25-year career as a chamber musician and solo clarinettist. She has given over 150 world premieres and her recordings are widely broadcast. Kate is also a BBC writer and CEO of Stapleford Granary, the home of ACE Cultural Tours.


Sophie Rosa enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. She has performed across the UK as a recitalist at venues including the Royal Festival Hall, the Purcell Room, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and Bridgewater Hall.


Vicci Wardman is established as one of the most in-demand and versatile violists of her generation. She enjoyed a busy international career as a founder-member of the Sorrel String Quartet and has played Principal Viola in all the major UK orchestras.

Tour Code

Fully booked

Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, performances & lectures as described, breakfast, two lunches with water & coffee, dinner with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £205. Principal and junior suite upgrades available on request.

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