Under the artistic directorship of Graham Oppenheimer, the first Festival in 2004 had the theme “Celebrating the Year of Czech Music”, and included composers Dvorak, Janacek, Smetana and Suk. 25 events were held over 8 days in Lincoln and several venues around Lincolnshire.
The 2005 Festival, “Joseph Haydn – Genius”, took the opportunity to feature the new Peters Edition of Haydn String Quartets by programming (nearly) all of them in 40 concerts over 4 weekends.
Mozart was the obvious choice for 2006, the 250th anniversary of his birth, and “Entirely Mozart “ again programmed 40 events covering all corners of Lincolnshire.
A new artistic director, Lincolnshire-born pianist Ashley Wass, devised the “Romantic Experience” programme for 2007. This highlighted music which was programmatic or had extra-musical connections, drawn mainly from the 19th century but also reaching back to the 1700s as well as into the current day.
2008 had “Home and Abroad” as a theme. Each programme included a substantial work by a British composer performed in the context of other pieces and composers who had influenced the work. There was a blend of music which had been neglected and deserved revival, alongside the familiar and well-loved.
In 2009 Ashley took the opportunity to highlight Mendelssohn in his anniversary year, a composer who Ashley believes is under-rated. It afforded the chance to present some less-often-performed chamber pieces and also some interesting re-workings of familiar orchestral works.
In 2010 the Festival was a celebration of the city of Paris, featuring composers who had either spent time there or had published works there, plus the French composers who were the backbone of the various schools of music thriving in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The programme included not only some immediately recognisable pieces but also introduced less well-known but equally attractive works.
The theme in 2011 featured performing composers and composing performers in “Page to Stage”. The Festival also recognized the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth and commemorated several of his visits to the county in 1840, including performances in venues used by Liszt.
“Notes from Nature”, the title of the 2012 Festival, acknowledged the Lincoln Cathedral Flower Festival which ran concurrently with LICMF. Of all potential sources of inspiration, nature could be thought to be the most fertile across the centuries. Two new initiatives featured in the 2012 Festival: two ‘Meet the Composer’ events with Festival Composer-in-Residence Sally Beamish, and a couple of String Workshops for young players.
In the tenth year, a “Sounds and Spaces” theme linked music to the venue in which it was performed, which included historic buildings of note. In addition, Festival 2013 staged the world premiere of a new work by composer, Sally Beamish: her arrangement for piano trio of Debussy’s La Mer.
2014 was the anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 and this, with hints of exile and exclusion, was the canvas for our 11th annual Festival: “War and Peace”.
2015 was the year that marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland. Both of these events were factors in the Festival, which featured music inspired by the printed word.
2016 was LICMF's most innovative festival to date as the programme explored the link between music and the silver screen. With live soundtracks to silent films, an evening devoted to the life, music and career of Charlie Chaplin and recitals of great music written for or used in the movies, this was a hugely memorable year. 2017 marked the tenth year that Ashley programmed LICMF and, to mark the occasion, he invited his close collaborator Matthew Trusler to join him as co-Artistic Director.
2017 was another innovative year. The Festival encompassed live performances by actors, in conjunction with music, as well as more traditional chamber recitals. A specially written script by broadcaster Ian Skelly, featured actor David Holt as Nicholas Lanier (first Master of the King’s Music) time travelling from the 1625 to the present day, with piano and soprano accompaniment. A new interpretation of Carl Davis’s music for the 1995 BBC production of Pride & Prejudice was interspersed by extracts from the book, read by actor Hayley Mills, which, together with some Regency dancing, formed an event which was part of the Festival’s commemoration of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death. The Trio Apaches provided a couple of entertaining family-friendly events aided – or rather disrupted - by the unique talents of mime artist Les Bubb!
2018 was a time of change within the Festival team. As a result, the number of events was reduced as an interim measure, in order to ease the changes. As well as the regular programme of chamber recitals, with the commemoration of the end of the First World War and the centenary of the founding of the RAF, the festival once again added voice to the programme. A special event “For the Fallen” took place at The Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa, famed for its association with 617 Squadron [The Dambusters] in Second World War. This consisted of readings of some powerful poems about war and remembrance, interspersed with a programme of appropriate music. It was at the end of this Festival that Ashley & Matt resigned as Artistic Directors.