Our History


About Us

In 2018 Deal Festival of Music and the Arts became Deal Music & Arts to better reflect its year-round education work.  In 2017it celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary of festival work. Deal Music & Arts’ annual summer festival is well respected as one of the landmarks in the English music festival scene.  It has become a treasured East Kent institution, bringing music and arts lovers from far and wide to enjoy concerts and other events from world-class artists in an eclectic selection of special and frequently intimate venues and historic settings.


Early Years:

The very first Deal Festival – The Deal Summer Music Festival – was organised by Swedish pianist Lennart Rabes who had moved to Deal from London. Rabes began with a piano recital containing several premières of contemporary Swedish works with Evelyn Rothwell and Steven Isserlis giving oboe and cello masterclasses. The Festival took root and began to flourish under the leadership of a series of Artistic Directors – Roger Raphael, Steven Isserlis (1985/6) and Peter Evans (1987/8).


1989 to 2013:

Composer David Matthews (Artistic Director 1989 – 2003) created fourteen annual fortnight long programmes, which firmly established Deal Festival as a major force in British music.  Composer Paul Max Edlin (2004 – 2010) worked together with the Festival’s first Education Director, Rosemary Dunn, to significantly develop education and outreach work.  Cellist, singer and actor Matthew Sharp (2011 – 2013) established an even more cosmopolitan sense of programming, working closely with Education Director David Burridge.  Paul Max Edlin has returned as Artistic Director (2014) and combines the role with his work as a composer and as Director of Music at Queen Mary University of London.


Programming and Education:

Throughout its history, the Deal Music & Arts has retained its core values focusing on chamber music and the promotion of young talent.  The annual summer Festival retains a vision for artistic endeavour that combines its core 'classical' activities with a liberal outlook both within music and across disciplines.  Just as it did in 1982, Deal Music & Arts continues to play host to new commissions, collaborations and world premieres by exciting new composers, musicians and artists from around the world.


Recognising the need of nurturing and developing new audiences, as well as filling a major educational and social need, the organisation continually develops its substantial education and outreach programme. Fostering and inspiring new musical talent, all these activities are brought under one coherent programme, now under the new leadership of Education Director Laura Callaghan Grooms.


Deal Music & Arts continues to grow and with the help of its many Friends, Patrons and Sponsors, looks forward to the next 35 years and beyond.




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