female working in music studio

The Surrey Hills International Music Festival 2023

Published 23rd June 2023

The 14th season of the Surrey Hills International Music Festival took place took place over the 2nd - 13th May, and brought the very best in classical music to the Surrey Hills. We take a look back at the 2023 season, and the important work the festival is doing to support young and emerging artists. 

Co-founded in 2009 by Artistic Director Wu Qian and Tessa Marchington (Festival Director 2009-19), the Surrey Hills International Music Festival is an annual gathering of world class musicians, showcasing the beautiful region of the Surrey Hills. The annual festival gives local music-lovers a chance to hear the very best classical performers right on their doorstep – this year including Tenebrae, The Julian Bliss Quintet, cellist Gary Hoffman and the Sitkovetsky Trio. Hosted in beautiful and intimate venues, each setting is carefully chosen to complement the festival programme, and allows audiences a very real sense of involvement and engagement with the musicians. 

Allianz Musical Insurance proudly continued its sponsorship of the festival this year, becoming the 2023 Young & Emerging Artists sponsor. This focused on the inclusion of two Young Artist Concerts in this year’s festival, which we were delighted to be able to attend in person. 

Young Artists Concerts

The first was a Lunchtime Young Artists Concert, hosted in the beautiful Stone Hall at West Horsley Place where Elizabeth I was once a visitor. Outstanding recitals were performed by Sasha Savaloni (Guitar) and the wonderful duo of Gus McQuade & Eleanor Grant (Guitar & Double Bass/Soprano vocal). It was no surprise that the up-and-coming musicians are the current holders of The Musicians’ Company New Elizabethan Award, which celebrates the music of the two Elizabethan ages. 
Students of The Yehudi Menuhin School performed the second Young Artists Concert in May - this time at St James’ Church in the picture perfect village of Shere. The musicians performing left us in no doubt that there is some truly special and exciting talent being developed, with a mesmerising confidence and incredible musical ability present in every single performance.   
gus mcquade and eleanor grant
Photograph by Matthew Gordon
We’re very proud to have supported the 14th season of Surrey Hills International Music Festival as the 2023 Young and Emerging Artists sponsor. It has been a real privilege to witness the exceptional young talent shaping the future of the classical music genre. It’s important to all of us at Allianz Musical Insurance that we support the UK music industry - working with our trusted partners to help musicians of any age, background and ability level, find and access to platforms where they can develop, perform and find support.
Julia Pearson, Surrey Hills International Music Festvial Chairman: From its earliest days, the festival has been committed to nurturing young artists and young audiences alongside the presentation of world-class performances in the Surrey Hills. Central to this commitment is our long-term support for the fantastic local String Scheme which provides free tuition and instruments to primary school pupils, and the regular performing opportunities we offer every year to young musicians. But as a small charitable organisation, there's always been a limit to the scope of what we can do within our own modest resources. So the support that we have received from Allianz Musical Insurance in recent years - and in particular this year as our dedicated Young & Emerging Artists Sponsor - has been absolutely invaluable in helping us to expand our outreach programme. 
sasha savaloni
Photograph by Matthew Gordon
st james' church shere
yehudi menuhin school student
Wu Qiann, Co-Founder and Artistic Director: Opportunities to experience music - be it as a listener, performer or creator - are fundamental to the future of classical music, and I'm so proud of the work the festival is doing to encourage and nurture the involvement of local young people. With the support of Allianz Musical Insurance, we are now including two Young Artists Concerts in our May festival fortnight each year - and this year we were also able to add a wonderful schools workshop to our programme - something we hope to continue going forwards. And I'm thrilled that next year - our 15th season - is going to see an even stronger emphasis on young people with the second edition of our Surrey Hills Young Composer Competition. 
Isabel Dawson, Festival Manager: It's been hugely rewarding building a relationship with AMI over the past few years. In a truly collaborative process, we've tweaked and developed our partnership each season so that it reflects more and more our common ground - essentially a belief in the vital importance of supporting young people within all areas of music to ensure its survival. Allianz Musical Insurance’s ongoing and much-valued commitment to supporting the festival enables us to expand and develop our outreach plans with confidence, and we're looking forward enormously to seeing what more we can achieve together in our 15th year!

Further Information

For more information on the Surrey Hills International Music Festival visit shimf.co.uk