The Haydn Festival, inspired by composer Joseph Haydn, has been a regular feature in the classical music calendar since 1993, taking place in the beautiful setting of St. Leonard’s Church, Bridgnorth, a grade 1 listed building.
The week long festival features a full programme of concerts played by a range of orchestras and ensembles including The English Haydn Orchestra playing period instruments in period costume.
The festival culminates with a gala night as the finale featuring a full orchestra and choir.
SSE Risers was first approached to provide a stage for the festival in 2001. SSE had previously provided the stage for a theatre company who performed a production of Macbeth at St Leonard's church. The church warden was impressed both with the speed that the SSE staging was erected and dismantled and the care that the crew took. As a result she contacted John Reed, the driving force behind the Haydn Festival and suggested SSE for the festival.
After a couple of meetings and site visits to establish what was needed SSE Risers has provided the stage every year since.
CAD plan of St. Leonard's Church with pews and choir stalls prior to the installation of the stage
The stage is built over the first few rows of pews and then rises in one foot increments as it stretches back towards the alter. This provides a a five tier choir stall rising nine feet from the church floor, with the orchestral stage in front.
The stage and choir tiers have to be built on a range of floor levels, with the existing choir stalls, and a pipe organ to be protected.
The same space rendered with the custom designed set in place
SSE Risers used its 3D graphics facilities to map the interior of the church and design the best fit for the staging. In keeping with the nature of the period instruments, John Reed always insisted that the stage and fascias should be finished in plain wood instead of SSE’s usual carpet finish, a feature easily achieved.
In 2004 an opera was staged on the Thursday, which involved removing the choir tiers and extending the stage backwards. The necessary work was carried out after Wednesday's concert and subsequently reset to the original configuration ready for the concert on Friday.
The church’s custodian remarked that it was only the flexibility of SSE’s SetDeck riser system that made this a possibility.
Prior to SSE's involvement, the only option was to use a scaffolding company to erect a framework over the pews and existing choir stalls and then board it over. It used to take three days to put in and two days to take out, leaving a day to clean the church before it could be reopened to the public. SSE Risers' stage takes one day to install, and less than a day to take out with very little cleaning up required.
Sadly in 2008 the untimely death of John Reed meant the festival did not go ahead, but a memorial concert was held in June, with SSE supplying the stage.
The festival resumes in 2009 and SSE Risers are building a larger stage to accommodate a larger orchestra for the grand gala night.