Michael Chance Countertenor


01 December, 2019


Advent Sunday. Tomorrow we audition children in Perins School in Alresford to be fairies in our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream next summer. Oh, and perhaps you might like to see this recent item from the BBC website about bullying made by teachers from Perins School.

Last Monday we completed our auditions for our 2020 festival chorus, and invitations have gone out. It’s always a difficult process this: the successful ones have probably also received offers from Glyndebourne and Garsington and other summer festivals all happening at roughly the same time. We try and offer some understudy positions as well, with a little more money. But getting the best people is hard when we aren’t the biggest player in the field (yet), but many of them seem to want to come to us anyway. It must be the food or something.

Our ticket sales to Friends and Founders are going well - well up on this time last year. We always want to improve, so looking ok at this stage. Public booking opens March 10th. That’s always a frantic day in the office - a bit like some of the mad trading days I remember when working in the Stock Exchange: total bedlam really.

Michael Chance

BBC News - Bullying: Teachers share their stories in video for pupils
The Grange Festival

22 September, 2019

The Grange Festival Second International Singing Competition

Our second International Singing Competition for young singers is fast approaching. From 100 applicants representing 34 countries, 70 were auditioned. What surprised all of us making the choices, was how very high the level is this year, in comparison to our first competition two years ago. We have simplified the prizes and are now able to offer a first prize of £10,000 and a role in a future Grange Festival production, making it one of the most desirable prizes anywhere. Other prizes also include the offer of recitals and concerts.

This year we shall be in the glorious setting of Merchant Taylors' Hall in London to hear pieces from repertoire up to 1830. The final will be accompanied by the Academy of Ancient Music. Competitions are exciting for us, the audience, as we listen to young stars of the future but also for the participants who eagerly grasp the chance of recognition.

Semi Final 21 October 2019 at 6pm

Final 31 October 2019 at 6pm

The Grange Festival Singing Competition 2019

21 September, 2019

The Grange Festival - Planning for the 2020 season

Many people assume my work running The Grange Festival ends when the actual Festival ends. It’s a bit like singers getting asked what they do ‘the rest of the time’ when they’re not actually performing. Of course the flippant reply is ‘having a good time’ and ‘twiddling our thumbs’ (or our larynxes) until the next performance. For every hour of showtime, there must be hundreds of hours of preparation, and the same is true of staging five separate productions in a festival.

Let me think what it takes - planning the repertoire, choosing the creative teams and orchestras and conductors, casting, planning the rehearsals, booking the rehearsal spaces, being in regular touch with well over 50 different artists’ agencies around the world, auditioning the chorus (260 applicants for 24 places), getting every aspect of the theatre ready (maintenance, improvements, upgrading - we are replacing our stage revolve, for instance, and making new grand opera curtains (’tabs’)), running the whole process of getting production sets planned, designed, built, delivered, installed, plus props, plus costumes, wigs, make-up, getting the music parts for the orchestras and singers ready……. OK I’ll stop. But this is before we have raised any money through Friends’ memberships, Founders donations, corporate sponsorship, and applications to charitable Trusts and Foundations; written, designed, proofed and printed all our booklets, programmes, mailshots to our database; worked out what our pricing structure should be for tickets, when we sell them, etc; and then there are all the other events we have throughout the year - parties for Friends and other supporters; our biennial Singing Competition; our Education projects with regional schools and colleges; and many other projects with which we either collaborate or help in less active ways.

Oh, I forgot that we also provide a full range of dinners, and suppers, and drinks for all our festival patrons, the planning and preparation for which would take another equally long paragraph to describe.

This is all to put on high quality performances, fill our auditorium and ensure that every visitor wants to return for more next time. And engage meaningfully about the power of music and drama in education and mental and physical healthcare in our region.

The 2019 festival went with a swing in its step and a smile on its face. We achieved around 95% attendance for every single performance, and got 5-star reviews for every show. In year three, I am told that’s pretty good. But I keep reminding everybody, having been on the receiving end of critics’ appraisals for nearly 40 years, that the bad reviews will come along, and don’t be either surprised or too downhearted when they do.

We are completely focussed on preparing now for 2020 (see above).

It’s fun (I really think we shouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t). It’s unpredictable. And it’s really, really satisfying when you see how palpably the audience gets profoundly and positively affected by what we produce.

Michael Chance

The Grange Festival

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