Deller known as the godfather of the counter-tenor

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The annual Stour Music Festival founded by renowned counter-tenor Alfred Deller begins today.

The festival, which celebrates early and Renaissance music, features a series of concerts performed at All Saints’ Church, Boughton Aluph, outside of Ashford.

The occasion is especially poignant as it marks the 100th birthday of the festival’s founder, who died in 1979.

Mr Deller was born in Margate in 1912 and is often referred to as the ‘godfather’ of the counter-tenor.

He formed the Stour Music Festival in 1962, after spending his career in the music industry.

His many acheivements include singing the role of Oberon in Benjamin Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream and forming the Deller Consort in 1948.

To celebrate Mr Deller’s 100th birthday, festival organisers held a concert at the church on May 31.

The concert featured his best recordings from the 1950s and was a rare chance for people to hear his voice again.

More than 200 people attended the event which was introduced by Alfred’s son, festival director Mark Deller.

Mr Deller said: “It is now more than thirty years since Alfred died and there are many people who will not have had the chance to hear him sing ‘live’ as it were. With this in mind I thought it would be a nice idea to have him singing again in Boughton Aluph Church, albeit this time on record.”

The evening also included an exhibition of paintings and drawings by artist John Ward, who illustrated many of the early programmes for the music festival.

Following the concert, the counter-tenor James Bowman CBE planted a tree in memory of Alfred in the churchyard where he is buried.

Mr Deller said: “When my father started a modest one day festival in 1962, he probably wouldn’t have imagined that, not only would it still be going 50 years later, but that it has become one the leading early music festivals in the country, internationally recognised, and attracting about 4000 visitors annually.

“Its continued success lies in the quality of its artistic programme, the fact that it is deeply rooted in the heart of the community, and, not least, the very special acoustics to be found in the remarkable church and its surroundings at Boughton Aluph.”

The festival runs from June 22 to July 1 and will feature performances from various counter-tenors.

Also performing are Ex Cathedra, His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts, The Hilliard Ensemble and The Gonzaga Band.

For more information visit www.stourmusic.org.uk.

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