Fringe Box



Uphill Struggle To Get A Piano Up St Martha’s Hill For Music Festival Concerts

Published on: 6 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 24 Mar, 2013
Heave... Moving a piano? Pah! It's just another srum for a local rugby team

Heave… Moving a piano? Pah! It’s just another srum for a local rugby team

by Michael Roberts

Heaving a piano from the hall to the front room of your own home is quite an ordeal at the best of times.  Getting one up the steep footpath which leads to the church of St Martha-on-the-Hill is another thing altogether. 

But that’s what was needed before the Guildford International Music Festival could contemplate putting on three Saturday afternoon concerts at one of Guildford’s most iconic churches.

No job is too big for the rugby team of one of our local schools. And they are the heroes who carried the piano to its new home atop the hill on the Pilgrims’ Way. These lads scarcely broke into a sweat, which is more than can be said for some of the walkers and cyclists who regularly ascend the path to the church to admire one of the very best views in Surrey.

'One of the very best views in Surrey'

‘One of the very best views in Surrey’.

So why ask people to climb to the top of a hill for a concert? “Because the place, the setting, the atmosphere beneath the tall pines, cries out for music,” says pianist Margaret Roberts who is co-ordinating these particular concerts for the festival.

“People have been worshipping and pilgrims have been pausing at this spot for hundreds if not thousands of years.  The chance to stop and listen to some good music while contemplating the inspiring view to the south is just too good to miss.”

View through the door of St Martha's Chapel

View through the door of St Martha’s Church.

The piano will certainly be put through its paces.  This coming Saturday’s performance at 3pm will be of Olivier Messaien’s “Quartet for the End of Time” played by the Holywell Ensemble. “One of the most mesmerizing and moving works of the entire chamber music repertoire,” states the festival programme.

At 3pm on Saturday March 16, the Everard Ensemble will perform Edward Elgar’s sonorous Piano Quintet, itself inspired by the beauty of the Sussex landscape.

The final concert on the afternoon of Saturday March 23rd will be given by the new young vocal ensemble Coromarta with a programme celebrating the British countryside.

With a piano in place, music is set to become a regular fixture at St Martha’s.   The church will play host to an entire weekend of music at the end of May.  Meanwhile, these concerts are free, though donations are welcome.

No tickets required. You only have to get yourself up the hill.

More information at

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