An annual event for four decades, the Bermuda Festival had auspicious beginnings. It owes its conception to world renowned violinist, the late Lord Menuhin, who worked with the then Governor of Bermuda the late Sir Edwin Leather, and the late John Ellison who became its first chairman, to launch the Festival in January 1976.
As promised, Lord Menuhin performed in that inaugural festival accompanied by his pianist sister Hephzibah. An additional unscheduled concert given by him spawned the founding of the Bermuda Menuhin Foundation, which brought a resident quartet to the Island, to provide string tuition in the schools. The Foundation flourished and Menuhin returned to the Island twenty years later to conduct a concert given by an orchestra comprised of Menuhin Foundation students and teachers, in celebration of the Festival’s anniversary and continuing success. At the 40th consecutive Festival, in 2015, the celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed a recital commemorating the three Founders.
True to its original philosophy, the Festival has continued to offer a range of performances by a diverse selection of artists of international repute. Initially the emphasis was on music, but over time, in its quest to reach out to every member of the community, it has diversified and now covers the entire spectrum of the performing arts. Satisfying Sir Edwin’s desire of “opening new horizons of excellence to our young people” the Festival’s Outreach Programme provides special performances and workshop opportunities for school students, given by the Festival performers while they are on the Island.
The programme is selected by the Festival’s executive team and programming committee. Ideas for future Festival performances are always welcome and can be submitted on this website.