As with all this year’s summer activities, Oxford Festival of the Arts was not able to take place in its usual format. However, the Field of Cloth of Gold-inspired events planned for this year have been time-shifted and will now take place in 2021 and in its place the festival team created OFA Virtual.  This free 18-day online festival was also themed around the remarkable events of 1520 in the Field of Cloth of Gold and embraced theatre, politics, opera, history, jazz, dance, choral and classical music, and even cookery.




Highlights included

  • Celebrated tenor Joseph Calleja singing two arias exclusively for the festival
  • University of Oxford cultural historian, broadcaster and author Dr Janina Ramirez  presenting a talk about goddesses
  • Award-winning vocal ensemble ORA Singers performed works by English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis including an exclusive excerpt of their new commission by Sir James MacMillan
  • Oxford East MP and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds was interviewed by BBC Political Correspondent Rob Watson
  • Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, historian, author and broadcaster presented  ‘Women, Sex and Power in the Sixteenth Century’
  • Acclaimed cellist Gabriella Swallow performed a tribute to Jacqueline du Pré (it is the 75th anniversary of her birth this year) including two world premieres

Working with MCS Partnership Coordinator Mrs McDonough, OFA created and distributed a Tudor-themed design activity pack for 7-11-year-olds. This went to partner primary schools, was distributed at the Rose Hill Community Larder, and via Ark-T, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire Kindness Wave to local community groups. The children’s designs can be seen here

heraldic shields

Festival Director Dr Michelle Castelletti said, “I cannot thank my friends and colleagues enough.  We have had endless hours of sparkling conversation to find ways to be with you, our terrific audiences, in this new reality we are living in.  I hope #OFAvirtual brought you joy, excitement, fascination, insight, and fun.  It was an extraordinary ride to create this and we are pleased and proud to have kept the arts alive and managed to support our freelance artists and creatives who took part in OFA Virtual. We couldn’t have done it without the help and encouragement of our sponsors and partners so thank you to them and of course, our greatest thanks go to Helen Pike and the MCS community – we are so proud to be part of such an arts-loving school.”

Although OFA was without the many MCS drama and music performances that would normally have taken place, talented musicians, both pupils and staff, were seen in the MCS Musical Moments digital concert and the choristers were part of a moving Festival Service which closed this year’s programme.

To date there have been nearly 14,000 views of the OFA Virtual performances on YouTube and FaceBook and all the events can be enjoyed again here.

Watch Again 

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