Angus Smith on Music at Paxton: 'It's an entertainment for friends, a gathering of like-minded people'
- Miranda Heggie
- 11 July 2019
Artistic director of the summer festival of chamber music discusses this year's event
'The thing about chamber music, I feel, is that it's a dialogue between audience and performer.' So says Angus Smith, incoming artistic director of Music at Paxton, a summer festival of chamber music held annually in the Scottish Borders. 'It's different from the music you hear in opera houses and grand concert halls – the clue's in the name. It's music that's been designed to be played in a room, with intimacy – a connection between musicians and listeners.'
Smith builds on the work of founding director Helen Jamieson who stepped down last year after 12 years at the helm. The event brings a wealth of music from established performers and rising stars to the stunning surroundings of Berwickshire's Paxton House. 'You watch these period dramas on television and you see the manner in which the music was performed in the 18th century – the period when the house was built,' says Smith. 'It's an entertainment for friends, a gathering of like-minded people.'
Part of Smith's focus for this year's festival has been to open up discourse with performers and audience members by introducing Q&A sessions before concerts, singing on the lawns, having a marquee set up for anyone who wants to bring a picnic, and throwing an end of festival party with artists in residence, the Maxwell Quartet. The festival is, as it has always been, a huge advocate for emerging professional players, though bigger names such as Paul Lewis and Tamsin Little will grace its stage too. 'Whatever stage of their career these artists are at, they are all excellent musicians, wonderful players, captivating personalities – everything that sets us up for a wonderful series of concerts.'
Paxton House, Paxton, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Fri 19–Sun 28 Jul.