About Us

CHAMBER MUSIC HOLIDAYS.

We started in London in 1982 and have continued
n 23 different places in the world!

Chamber Music Holidays and FestivalsMusicians from Australia, Canada and Germany playing in the historic Haydn Music Room in Estzterhaza.

Our History.
Several people asked about the history so here is a very brief summary of the last 37 years!

Chamber Music Holidays began in 1982 when I invited members of the Amateur (now Associated) Chamber Music Players based in New York with members worldwide to come to London to play together and with local people as well as enjoying the concerts, theatre and visiting this great city. We were based in Chelsea College twice a year for sixteen very enjoyable years until  the campus was sold.

In 1984 friends suggested Vienna – a great location with lots of players and so much music, we were there most years until 2014. Then to Budapest for the first of many most enjoyable and interesting holidays until three years ago. There I met Laszlo Somfoi the great musicologist who insisted I visit the great Eszterhazy Palace in the west of Hungary - Eszterhaza. I remember standing at the gates absolutely overwhelmed by the beauty and history and of course thinking of the years Haydn lived and worked there.

We started the CMH in this absolutely magnificent Palace in 1985, living in the simple but comfortable accommodation and playing in the great Haydn Music Room often as well as ideal spaces in our accommodation. George Sopkin was our main coach also Alexandre Brussolovsky and we had Trio Concerts with them and various pianists.  In the 1990s I organised some interesting Festivals. Very special memories including the Lindsay’s Haydn Quartet The Seven Last Words in the incredible Haydn Room, everyone said a lifelong memory, and many more up to the Haydn Bicentenary in 2009.

In 1987 Corfu started with the great cellist George Sopkin as one of the coaches and this led to 1991 the start of Divertimenti in Corfu! The Holidays have been here most years since then but are now moving to Athens. The Lindsay Quartet were the Quartet in residence for five wonderful years followed by the Kocian Quartet  and many other great musicians over the years have kept this Festival so very special.

Then a  CMH in Israel, some exciting years in Moulin d’Ande in Normandy and two New Years in Paris. Other holidays in Tuscany followed leading to me being involved in a Festival for three years with the excellent and well known luthier John Terry. Here I met the great Lindsay and Talilch Quartets who became part of all this. Several years in a charming hotel in central Florence with concerts and coaching by Roger Low and Igor Polesitsky and others.

Prague started in 1994 with 92 people joining us for the first String Quartet Festival organised by friends which lasted for 12 years. We heard all the great quartets in ten concerts each year, coaching by members in an ideal Hotel which had fantastic views, ideal accommodation for playing and more.  Then a Czech Australian friend and I organised Divertimenti in Prague, with the greatest Czech quartets.  Josef Suk was Patron and a huge support at all concerts and parties, certainly the greatest Czech Musician and one of the most wonderful people and such a good friend. We were in Prague for May then September for the Festival and for New Year up to quite recently. Such a magnificent city it became like a second home! Wonderful concerts also opera and fantastic coaching by members of the Kocian, Prazak, Talich, Herold, Stamic Quartets and the Kinsky Trio.

Several fascinating Holidays in Sydney, Thailand (3 exciting times with the Kocian Quartet) and four years in Florence, also Istanbul, Bournemouth and two on the Rhine. One of the highlights was Beethoven on Board, a Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Cruises with the great Lindsay Quartet playing all Beethoven Quartets. Spending days in such exotic and wonderful places as Jamacia the Cayman Islands and also Mexico and Key West was so interesting and to be followed by the wonderful Beethoven Quartets was just perfect.  I have been commissioned to write a book about all this.

 On 31st January this year we were delighted to have another concert by the great Australian pianist Piers Lane. His April concert in 2017 was such an outstanding success people were asking for another Chopin recital. He played the Complete Chopin Nocturnes to a highly enthusiastic audience. He loves Corfu and Corfu certainly adores him and his superb playing. 

In June the International Baroque Festival created a lot of interest internationally but unfortunately Corfu was not as wildly enthusiastic as expected. Our Director was Stanley Ritchie Distinguished Professor of violin at the great University of Indiana , Bloomington USA.

For 2019 a big change as we move to Athens, one of the most exciting cultural Capitals in Europe. Piers Lane and I discussed this idea and he will play the opening concert of our first Festival – Divertimenti in Athens. We do hope you will join us for this new and most attractive Chamber Music Holiday Festival.


Our Facebook page has a most interesting article from the NYT about Athens one of the Cultural Capitals of Europe. We stay in a wonderfully central area near the Acropolis and much more – a most unusual Hotel – certainly one of the best and most attractive in the last 37 years!

DIVERTIMENTI IN CORFU.
In 1991 Vivienne Pittendrigh founder and Director of Chamber Music Holidays, the Mayor of Corfu Chrysanthos Sarlis and Kostas Nikolouzos now Mayor of Corfu started this Festival. We all felt Corfu  should be seen as a Cultural Centre especially during the EU Summit in 1994. Concerts were held in wonderful settings including the Old Fortress including  St George’s Church and a spectacular site at the top of the Fortress, the New Fortress, the Palace of St Michael and St George, the Achilleon Palace and the National Gallery in Dassia. Famous musicians in the first year included the violinist Alexandre Brussilovsky, pianist Jeremy Menuhin, cellist Mark Drobinsky, Toby Appel, the Hazelwood Trio from Australia and many more.  Chrysanthos visited a wonderful Festival in the Florentine Hills which Vivienne was organising with a famous luthier John Terry. There he gained some interesting ideas for Corfu and also met the famous Lindsay Quartet from England who then became the Quartet in Residence of Divertimenti in Corfu for six years.

From 1983 and including the European Summit the Lindsay Quartet were very much part of this and came at least once a year with their families also on the Caribbean Cruise. The concerts were very popular with large audiences and after concert mezes and wine made these into very sociable as well as wonderful musical occasions. Chamber Music Holidays with amateur musicians and listeners from all over the world were of course part of this. Chandris Hotels were a major sponsor and hosted concerts in their outdoor Taverna area and the lovely Outdoor Theatre. Several journalists from Australia, England, Canada and America wrote glowing reports.

After some years the Municipality was not able to support this Festival so it changed into Chamber Music in private villas, the Open Air Theatre in Chandris Hotel and later Triklino Winery and St George’s Bay Country Club. We had two Festivals a year - May and September with world famous Czech Quartets and Trios. The Kocian Quartet became the resident quartet also the Stamic, Martinu, Herold and Nostitz quartets with members of the Prazak, Tallich, Aron and the Kinsky Trio. Chandris Hotels was one of the main sponsors.

In 2016 A large outdoor Concert in the Old Fortress with the great world famous Greek opera/classical/crossover Tenor Mario Frangoulis with his excellent band and tenor George Perris. Mario is part Corfiot and has performed here several times. 
In September we had the excellent Carmel Quartet from Israel for five concerts including one ‘Explained Concert’. We also had one excellent Jazz concert with the Freedom Love Trio including the great Bass player Petros Klampanis who is based in New York but plays and teaches world wide. He will be in Athens in March! – Two Greek Jazz musicians who are well known in New York, all over Europe and more the great Bass player Petros Klampanis and the wonderful  vibraphone player Christos Rafalides with the outstanding Dimos Dimitriades the professor of the famous Jazz Department at the Ionian University here in Corfu. 

In April 2017 the concert by the London based Australian pianist Piers Lane was a huge success. He played an all Chopin concert and I have never seen a Corfu audience more enthusiastic and appreciative. He is a great musician at home equally in solo, chamber and concerto repertoire. He returned in January 2018 for a really superb concert but will not be in Corfu  in the future as he is keen to move to Athens with us.
In September we had four concerts by a Piano Quartet of well known musicians Elisabeth Perry (violin) Richard Wolfe (viola) Niall Brown (cello) and Isabelle Trub (piano). The programmes included wonderful chamber music by most of the great composers played superbly. The final concert was the first of our Music and Wine series at the historic Theotoky Estate Winery, such beautiful music in such a glorious location.
2018 the Baroque Festival was not the huge success expected partly the Old Fortress closed St George’s Church and the publicity was not organised as promised.

Divertimenti in  Corfu will now be part of Chamber Music Holidays in Athens and when in Corfu will be under another name as we plan exclusive, intimate concerts in delightful locations and private homes with buffet and wines. It is sad but we treasure the great memories. It is simply not practical to continue with large concerts in Corfu due to lack of support, financial problems and recently a huge amount of work and expenses wasted! 
Looking forward to seeing you in Athens and for the house concerts if you are in Corfu!


This information is correct at the time this was published. We reserve the right to make changes due to any unforeseen circumstances.