Having recently celebrated his 80th birthday, Martin Graham, founder of Longborough Festival Opera, is stepping down from the Board which he has chaired for over 20 years. Martin will retain his close interest in the season’s performances and Lizzie Graham will become interim Chair of the Board. Working alongside Executive Director Jennifer Smith, Polly Graham continues as Artistic Director, the role to which she was appointed in 2018.
Longborough’s Music Director Antony Negus commented: “Martin’s was the inspiration to perform the Ring cycle at Longborough in his newly built theatre, and since my first meeting with him in 2000 I owe him deep gratitude for being my friend and ‘comrade in arms’ through all our exciting Wagnerian developments at Longborough. As we move into new times with Polly at the helm, Martin and Lizzie will always be at the heart of our artistic endeavours.”
Martin and Lizzie have achieved what many said was impossible. Fuelled by great passion, energy and determination, they gradually converted a set of agricultural buildings into what is regularly described as an English Bayreuth in the heart of the Cotswolds, loved by its ever-expanding supporter base and respected for its commitment to exceptional performance quality, compelling repertoire and creativity of interpretation. Longborough Festival Opera is now a modern arts organisation run by a team of professionals drawn from across the arts world, with a mission to support opera as a compelling art form, develop artistic talent of the future and widen the access to music in surrounding communities.
Longborough Festival Opera is indebted to Martin for his inspirational leadership, expertise, passion and enthusiasm. Artistic Director Polly Graham said: “Without my father’s exceptional energy and drive, this festival would not exist. We continue to be inspired by his tenacity and daring, and intend to keep taking exciting artistic risks as we plan for the future, sharing great opera with as many people as possible.”