Twickenham Fest calls it quits after a magical, musical 13-year run

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After 13 years, Twickenham Fest is no more. (Twickenham Fest via Facebook)

One of Huntsville’s beloved music festivals — Twickenham Fest — has seen its final run, according to festival officials. The festival ran for 13 years, and featured classical musicians from around the world.

Although festival organizers did not give any specific reasons for ending the festival, they did thank Huntsville for its tremendous support over the years.

13 years of bringing classical music to Huntsville

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Festival organizers Matt McDonald and Susanna Phillips Huntington thanked Huntsville for supporting Twickenham Fest over the years. (Twickenham fest via Facebook)

Huntsville natives and accomplished musicans Matt McDonald and Susanna Phillips Huntington started Twickenham Fest to bring together some of the world’s finest musicians to perform chamber music for diverse audiences at concerts with free admission in Alabama.

After traveling around the world, performing with elite symphonies and singing in sold-out opera houses, Huntington and McDonald wanted to share extraordinary music with their hometown, which is how Twickenham Fest was conceived. Their vision was that everyone be able to attend the festival, even if they could not afford a ticket.

To keep concerts free they turned to their hometown neighbors who pledged to help, and the tremendous support they received from the Twickenham neighborhood bore the festival’s namesake.

“As we began in 2009, none of us knew quite what to expect. Few of the Fest Artists had ever been to Alabama. We had exactly zero experience running a festival. But the community of Huntsville wowed all of us with generosity, hospitality and genuine warmth. In fact many of the musicians maintain friendships with locals fostered at the Fest.”

Twickenham Fest founders Matt McDonald and Susanna Phillips Huntington

A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Huntsville

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McDonald and Huntington announced that Twickenham Fest has ended. (Twickenham Fest via Facebook)

The success of this chamber music festival was beyond what McDonald and Huntington had ever imagined when they started the festival in 2009. They issued a joint statement this week thanking Huntsville for its support.

“First and foremost, thank you to the community of Huntsville. You enthusiastically joined us for this wild ride. You raised us, nurtured us and supported us as we became working classical musicians. You cooked meals for our musicians. You babysat our children during rehearsals. You showed up to help us move pianos, stands and chairs.

“When we tried new ideas (Bach by Candlelight, PajamaJam, playing in the shop windows downtown), you gave them a chance. We were honored to receive Downtown Huntsville Inc’s ‘Downtown Event of the Year’ award. During our tenure we hosted 112 international artists to perform 95 concerts in often sold-out venues throughout the city including churches, synagogues, hardware stores, farmers markets, farms, art museums, public libraries, UAH, Hudson Alpha, the Thurber Arts Center, the VBC, Cooper House, Russell Erskine, the Redstone Arsenal and the Space and Rocket Center.

“We performed morning, noon and night reaching all kinds of Huntsvillians – some avid classical music fans, some new to the experience. Thank you Mayor Tommy Battle for your unwavering support and Arts Huntsville. Twickenham Fest happened because of this special community.”

Twickenham Fest founders Matt McDonald and Susanna Phillips Huntington

Read the full statement on the Twickenham Fest Facebook page.

What are some of your favorite Twickenham Fest memories? Share them with us on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss announcements on what’s happening in and around Huntsville.

Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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