The composer Frederick Delius lived at Solano Grove on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida from 1884 to 1885, and made a return visit in 1897. Many of his beautiful musical works were inspired by his Florida experience. The Delius Festival is the annual celebration of the composer and his music.
2000 Delius Festival Schedule:
April 6 (Thursday):
At Jacksonville University:
10:30 AM At Gooding Auditorium:
Opening Ceremonies with introduction of guests.
Jeff Driggers will speak about the recently discovered Frederick Delius /
James Weldon Johnson connection.
VIDEO: SONG OF FAREWELL (1982, 60 min.)
A documentary produced by Yorkshire Television about Eric Fenby,
Delius' amanuensis. Fenby recalls his first hearing of Delius' music and
his journey to France to work with Delius.
12:30 PM Composers' luncheon (reservations required: 904-389-0587)
2:00 PM Delius House Tour (on JU campus)
3:00 PM Delius Composition Award Concert (Terry Concert Hall)
Thirtieth presentation of this international composition concert, with performance
of award winners, and selection of final prize compositions.
April 7 (Friday):
At Friday Musicale Auditorium, 645 Oak Street:
11:00 AM Friday Musicale: Nora Sirbaugh (Mezzo-soprano),
Stephen Peet (Accompanist)
I. Set of songs with the original Danish
II. Sorrow of Mydath.........................................................Griffes
We'll to the Woods
III. Twilight Fancies; Young Venevil................................Delius
IV. 4 Songs to poems by Paul
V. 4 Spirituals..................................................................Arranged by Burleigh
VI. Sakuntala (in English)................................................Delius
April 8 (Saturday):
At the Florida Yacht Club, 5210 Yacht Club Road:
11:30 AM The Fenby Lecture (the annual lecture honoring Delius' amanuensis,
Lecturer: David Lloyd-Jones (British
conductor and recording artist)
Topic: DELIUS IN THE LIFE AND CAREER OF A CONDUCTOR
12:30 PM The Annual Yacht Club
Luncheon (reservations required: 904-389-0587)
2:00 PM Excursion to Solano
Grove on the St. Johns River where Delius lived in
1884-85. Vehicles leave from the Florida Yacht Club. Maps furnished for
40th Annual Delius Festival - A Review by Jeff Gower
Another year has come! Hard to believe a year has passed since last
year's superbly magical Delius Festival. It was a real joy being able to see old
Delian friends again this year, and to be on the beautiful JU campus and
gorgeous St. John's River. Thanks to Jesse Wright and the many others who
put together this festival.
Thursday, April 6:
Opening Event included introduction of attendees from afar (overseas and
other states in the USA), and the screening of the 1982 documentary film
"Song of Farewell" which focused on Eric Fenby and his experiences with
Delius' music. This is an EXCELLENT film, one which most of the attendees
had seen several times but this was the first time I'd seen it. I loved
it very much, but the old Gooding Auditorium speakers should be replaced
before the next festival. One of Delius' descendents from Germany, with
last name of Delius, was there and presented a sketch of Delius that is
going to be preserved and kept at JU. Another Delius descendent, named
Frederick Delius(!), came down from Atlanta, GA.
Next up was Jeff Driggers' commentary about a book he found on the web -
it was the German translation of James Weldon Johnson's "The Autobiography
of An Ex-Coloured Man", for which Delius wrote a short forward. This was an
interesting find, and Jeff presented it well.
Next, there was the Composer's Luncheon. This is always a great time to
chat with Delian friends and meet new ones. At my table sat the artist S.
Barre Barrett, who contributed the artwork for the Delius Festival
program. Also, there were old friends Richard Plunkett from Maine and David Duke
from Philadelphia. I enjoy spending time with the Delians who travel from
afar because they are so enthusiastic about Delius. A suggested nice
touch to this luncheon (and appropriate to the occasion) would be some Delius
music in the background.
Following the luncheon is the usual tour of the Delius house (I always
feel a sense of awe and magic when I walk though this house!!) - again, some
quiet Delius music playing in the house would be a nice touch and would
further enhance the Delian atmosphere of the place. Also, many people
visit the Library where there are original scores of Delius music and a bust of
his head on display.
Then there is the annual Delius Composition Award Concert. This is a
competition of works who have previously won the awards for various
categories such as "Chamber Music Category", "Performance Category",
The first prize is the $1000 Delius Memorial Scholarship. I personally
find this concert increasingly difficult to sit through. While each year there
are one or two works that are truly interesting and sometimes very lovely
(for example, those works of Maurice Saylor in 1997 and Alex Shapiro in
1999 - both of these composers have since sent me recordings of their
fine music), most of the music is sterile and unrewarding (to my ears, at
least). Very little of it possesses those essential ingredients of beauty
and emotion that Delius found so important in music. This year, the
clear winner (to my ears and to others around me - in fact, it received by far
the greatest applause!) should have been Frank Ticheli's choral work
"There Shall Be Rest" - this was a gorgeously harmonically rich work. But alas,
it didn't win. (But neither did the aforementioned Saylor or Shapiro
works). Oh well. The winning piece was Matthew Van Brink's "Contexts"
for chamber sextet.
Friday, April 7:
Friday Musicale concert:
Mezzo-soprano Nora Sirbaugh and pianist Stephen Peet
Songs by Delius, Griffes, and spirituals arranged by Burleigh
This was a very nice concert. I especially enjoyed the subtlety and
sensitivity of Stephen's playing. While I personally am not as fond of
Delius' songs as I am of his other work, it was a pleasure to hear these
done live and I appreciated Nora and Stephen for coming down to Florida
to perform them. Also, I enjoyed speaking with Nora and Stephen about
Delius' songs, in relation to other songs composed in the same period.
There was a concert given by the Jacksonville Symphony Friday evening
(not a part of the Delius festival per se). It contained music by Ravel,
Mussorgsky, and Mozart. No Delius. In fact, there has been no Delius
performed by NEITHER the Jacksonville Symphony nor anyone in the
Jacksonville University Music Department during the Delius Festivals in
Jacksonville since 1996 (when the Jacksonville Symphony performed "A Walk
To The Paradise Garden" and the Krosniks at JU performed a violin
sonata). Here we have a world-renowned and well-loved composer who lived in this
area and derived much of his inspiration from this area, and composed
music based on this area, and yet JaxSymphony and JU Music Dept. can't bring
themselves to perform ANY Delius music at the Delius Festival held in
their very city, and on the very campus where the festival is held and where
Delius' house resides? What does this say to those who travel from afar
to attend these Festivals? What would Delius himself think? This is an
issue I will personally pursue in the coming year - I hope a change comes of
Saturday, April 8:
The annual Fenby Lecture and Banquet.
This year's guest lecturer was the wonderful Welsh conductor David
Lloyd-Jones, who gave a very interesting talk on "Delius in the Life and
Career of a Conductor". He talked about how most of the performances of
Delius' music since Beecham have been from Beecham's scores, which were
almost co-composed by Beecham since Delius never included many phrasing,
dynamics, tempi, etc. markings in his scores. And he discussed various
other matters relating to how conductors approach Delius' work. I found
this immensely interesting and a highlight of the festival. He ended by
playing his wonderful Naxos recording of the Koanga final scene. I always
find these final moments of the Delius festival so rewarding because here
we are, sitting and looking out over the St.John's River, and listening
to Delius. You can't beat it.
Many attendees go to the Solano Grove site after the banquet, to finish
off the Delius festivals. I go by there on my own a few times a year, and it
is always a spiritual thing to be able to experience the river and the
nature in a similar way that Delius did, especially if you bring along some
Delius music to listen to while you are there.
While this year's festival was not the magically powerful Delian
experience of last year's, it was still a great joy to see my Delian friends. I was
suffering from a mild stomach ailment for the latter 2/3 of the festival
so I wasn't as talkative and couldn't do as much casual visiting as I'd
hoped to do, but I did manage to attend every event. I think that there are
some things that can be done to greatly enhance the festival for next year and
will be in contact with the Jacksonville folks (in the Delius Association
and elsewhere) to help out any way I can - I hope others will offer
suggestions also. I think that ideally, attendees should leave the
festival with a truly Delian experience, full of Delius music and legacy
in their minds. Instead, this year I found myself starved of Delius and
wanting to get back home so I could finally listen to his music - it was
as if the festival was a teaser rather than a fully rewarding experience.
But that can be easily changed, and I HOPE that the fine Delians in
Jacksonville will allow me to help out and offer suggestions. There is SO
much potential there!
Until next year!
The 1999 Delius Festival
The 1998 Delius Festival
The City of Jacksonville Visitors Page
Back to the Delius Web Page