Long before health and safety regulations cut the audience by more than half, 500 concertgoers packed the Collegiate Church of St Endellion on the evening of April 19, 1974. Many sat on the floor or perched on the granite windowsills for what would become the first performance of an enduring festival of classical music.
The isolated 15th-century church, a memorial to a long dead female Cornish saint, overlooked the wild Atlantic coastline near Port Isaac. It was a setting well suited to the elemental power and emotional breadth of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, played by a mixed orchestra and chorus of professionals and keen amateurs. Tickets were £1, with dinner in the interval thrown in.
On the podium was the 26-year-old conductor Richard Hickox, then