THE owners of Iford Manor near Bradford on Avon were ecstatic last night following the triumphant return of live music after spending more than three months in a Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

William Cartwright-Hignett and his wife Marianne have launched the impromptu Bounceback Festival 2020 from Thursday, July 30 to Sunday, August 2 in just 12 days to provide a celebration of live music from international artists over four evenings in the beautiful Iford Valley.

They say the festival celebrates the reawakening of the live music scene and offers a platform for artists who have not been able to perform live for several months to make live music live again for the local community.

The festival kicked off last night with a rousing live performance of gypsy jazz, folk and classical music from internationally-acclaimed violinist Tim Kliphuis, performing with bassist Roy Percy from Edinburgh and local pianist David Newton from Freshford, who stepped in at the 11th hour to replace guitarist Nigel Clark.

Set in the stunning Iford Valley with the Iford Manor as a backdrop, a crowd of more than 130 people were able to spread out on the field next to the River Frome and enjoy a socially distanced picnic while the Tim Kliphuis Trio performed classics from Stefano Grappelli, Duke Ellington and Johann Sebastian Bach among others.

The trio had last performed together at Iford Manor nine years ago as part of the Iford Arts Festival, so last night’s concert was a bit of a homecoming for Tim and Roy, who have recently been recording remotely in Holland and Scotland for a new album, The Five Elements, which is being released in September.

The performance began with a lovely version of Burton Lane’s How About You? before moving on to Stefano Grappelli’s After You Have Gone, and Robert Schumann’s Romance.

The first half also included Samba for Paula, one of Mr Kliphuis’ own compositions written for his daughter, and Paganini’s Caprice, which many music lovers will remember as the theme tune to Melvyn Bragg’s South Bank Show.

After the interval, the audience was treated to a performance by two of Mr Kliphuis’ violin pupils, Casey White, 13, and Alfie Weinberg, 15, the pair having travelled down from the Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester specially for the concert.

It continued with renditions of Grappelli’s By All Means, John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf’s Moonlight in Vermont, Grappelli’s Hesitation and a Duke Ellington composition before ending on a high note with Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard’s jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown.

What more could one want?

“People like William putting on shows are the heroes for us and I hope they will continue to put shows on,” said Mr Kliphuis, who hopes to tour the South West in November with his new album.

Mr Cartwright-Hignett said: “The music industry has suffered particularly badly over the lockdown period, with most artists having had barely any professional work since March.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be putting on live music and for two of Tim’s pupils to be involved was lovely. I thought it was really inspired.

“To provide a showcase for international artists at Iford is absolutely wonderful and to do it in only 12 days has been an incredible experience.

"I really want to get back to putting on local music festivals. We have got a magic that inspires that you don’t get in any other environment.”

His wife Marianne added: “We hope that in some small way this festival can not only provide much needed revenue to artists, but also act as a beacon generally for live music.”

Performances on all four evenings are taking place outside, so dress for the British weather, although yesterday evening was beautifully warm until the sun began to go down at around 9pm.

Whilst most music lovers are desperate to get out again, safety is paramount. Everything at Iford Manor is being done firmly within government guidelines, to make sure people not only are safe, but feel safe too.

Audience can expect distancing between picnics, one-way routes, and a lot of hand-sanitiser.

“We think people generally just want to get out and about again safely. This is a good way to do that, out in the fresh air with beautiful music and surroundings”, says Mr Cartwright-Hignett.

Each of the artists performing over the next three evenings is a headliner in their own right.

Tonight’s concert features everyone’s favourite baroque classics, masterfully brought to life by Sinfonia Britannica, and comprising internationally-acclaimed musicians who regularly play with the top London orchestras.

Tomorrow lights up with the electrifyingly-entertaining Joe Stilgoe, a multi-award-winning singer-pianist who regularly tours the world, and whose albums have topped the jazz charts four times. He brings a trio to Iford with Ben Reynolds on drums and Tom Farmer on bass.

Finally, the festival weekend will close on Sunday with an opera gala hosted by international soprano Mary Bevan who brings with her an award-winning group of friends: Nicky Spence (tenor), William Thomas (bass), and Dylan Perez (piano), each of them no stranger to award nominations or taking the top prize.

There are still tickets available for the remaining performances and booking is open at

Performances (not in the main gardens at Iford, which are closed this year) are at BA15 2BA. Tickets start at £25 and are available either for socially-distanced picnic pitches or for seats at the back.

The festival is for over-18s only, with a maximum of six people in each party, in accordance with government guidelines.