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 2017 it 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.





Alison Balsom, OBE


Alison made her US television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, a platform few classical artists have gained access to. Balsom also headlined the Last Night of the Proms in 2009 with the concert reaching one of the BBC’s biggest ever global television audiences of an estimated 200 million. In 2013 Alison was featured in her own South Bank Show for Sky Arts and also won a 2013 Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Award alongside Barry Gibb, Coldplay and Labrinth. More recently Alison has presented the BBC Young Musician, the UK’s leading contest for young classical musicians. Balsom has performed with some of the greatest conductors and orchestras of our time including Lorin Maazel, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Roger Norrington, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Wiener Symphoniker, Hong Kong Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, BBC NOW, BBC Scottish Orchestras and Philadelphia Orchestra.


Summer 2013 saw several debuts for Alison on the natural trumpet including her role as the Creative Producer and protagonist of the new 5-star critically acclaimed production “Gabriel” at Shakespeare’s Globe in London and her first ever performance at Latitude Festival (Latitude won “Best Line-Up” at the 2013 Festival Awards).


In 2014 Alison Balsom was involved in various new projects  including visiting some of the poorest areas of Uganda as Patron for Brass for Africa, speaking at a TEDMED conference about the power of music, launching and supporting the BBC's long-term music education campaign called 'Ten Pieces', performing at the iTunes Festival for the first time, working in partnership with the newly invented all-plastic trumpet 'The pTrumpet' and appearing in BBC Music's God Only Knows video which had 8 million YouTube hits in the first month.


Another 2014 first for Alison saw her return to the Royal Albert Hall, this time headlining her first ever solo show. This London concert was the climax of a successful UK major city tour: Balsom presented a contemporary show based around her new album Paris and performed a widely eclectic programme with her own band, a string quartet & a jazz quintet, demonstrating the extreme versatility of her instrument.


Balsom’s highly distinctive sound earned her much recognition in her early career when she primarily reached her audience through radio broadcasts under the auspices of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. While represented  by the Young Concert Artists Trust, Alison caught the ear of EMI Classics with whom she has recorded exclusively since 2001. Consistently topping the charts with each new release, Balsom’s  Italian Concertos album, made up of her own arrangements, became EMI Classics best selling album of 2010.  Paris, Alison’s latest release which she co-produced with Guy Barker, took No. 1 chart positions in the UK, US and Japan.


In addition to transcribing and arranging existing works for  both natural and valved instruments, Alison is increasingly active in commissioning new works for trumpet.  In Toronto recently she performed Songs of the Paradise Saloon by Bramwell Tovey and earlier this year she premiered a new work by Qigang Chen in China and at the Proms.  She is currently working with Guy Barker on a new symphonic work for 2015.


Her world premiere performance of James MacMillan’s Seraph at the Wigmore Hall in February 2011 went on to become the title track of her 2011  release for EMI Classics. Alison’s 2012 album,  Sound the Trumpet, saw  Balsom perform a variety of works by Purcell and Handel with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert on period instruments.  For her release, The Sound of Alison Balsom, she selected some of her favourite recordings from her past award-winning albums which include performances on both the natural and the modern trumpet.


Alison Balsom studied trumpet at  the Paris Conservatoire, and with Håkan Hardenberger. She also studied, and is now a fellow at, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was a concerto finalist  in the BBC Young Musician competition in 1998 and received the Feeling Musique Prize for quality of sound in the 2001 Maurice André International Trumpet Competition.







Paul Max Edlin


Paul Max Edlin’s career combines composing, conducting, trumpet playing, lecturing and artistic direction. His compositions have been performed both nationally and abroad by many leading artists, ensembles and orchestras such as Dame Sarah Connolly, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Nicholas Daniel, John Wallace, Rolf Hind, London Sinfonietta, Psappha, Cantus Ansambl and Britten and Southbank Sinfonias. His works have received broadcasts on BBC 2, BBC Radio 3, as well as on Radio and Television abroad.


In 2011 Paul was elected President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. In 2013 he was appointed Director of Music at Queen Mary University of London. He was 2016/2017 Composer in Residence for London Chamber Orchestra.  In 2014 he succeeded cellist and singer Matthew Sharp who was Artistic Director of the then Deal Festival from 2011 to 2013.


A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, he serves on the boards of several music and music education organisations and charities, including Cantoris Charitable Trust, which supports Canterbury Cathedral choristers. He is chair of the board of ORA, one of the UK’s most prestigious choirs and a leading force in the commissioning of new repertoire. He is a member of several other arts boards.  Paul Max Edlin has two musical and artistic sons.







Jane Billing - Chair

Charles Franklyn - Vice Chair

Christopher Cook

Myles Corley

Mrs Penny Dorritt

Ian Odgers

Tim Offord


Artistic Director

Dr Paul Edlin


General Manager

Willie Cooper

Email: irondraw@btinternet.com


Hon Treasurer

George Billing


Development Officer

Hayley White

Email: hayley@whiteconsulting.co.uk


Friends Administrator

Charles Franklyn

Email: dealfestivalfriends@gmail.com


Education Director

Laura Callaghan, Hand on Heart Arts

Email: laura@handonheartarts.com


Education Assistant

Rosalyn Russell

Email: dealfestivaleducation1@gmail.com


Social Media Consultant

Howard Corley


Summer School Director

Graham Harvey


Production Director

Kenneth Peers

Email: kenneth.peers@btinternet.com







Stephen Isserliss

Steven Isserlis is a cellist whose passion for music transcends conventional divisions. Acclaimed worldwide for his musicality and technique alike, he is equally at home drawing the audience into his circle of friends for chamber music or in recita, or on the concert platform with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras and conductors. Steven Isserlis was for a time Artistic Director of the Deal Festival and appeared in the 25th Anniversary year.


David Matthews

David Matthews was born in London in 1943 and started composing at the age of sixteen. He read Classics at the University of Nottingham – which has also made him an Honorary Doctor of Music. He spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh in the late 1960’s. He has also written books on the music of Michael Tippett and Bejamin Britten. Matthews has been Music Advisor to the English Chamber Orchestra and was the Artistic Director of the Deal Festival for 10 years until 2003.


Lyn Bailey

Lyn Bailey retired from teaching and working as Clerk to a High Court Judge and very quickly become involved with the Deal Festival in 1995. In 1999 she joined the Committee and became deputy chairman to Lady Jennifer Balfour and on her retirement became Chairman. Lyn steered the Festival through important changes, registering the Festival as a Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee. Upon retirement from her role as Chair in 2005 she became very involved with art and her great love which is portrait painting. Lyn is still a great supporter of the Festival.


Trevor Pinnock CBE

Trevor Pinnock has recently agreed to become a Vice-President of the Deal Festival. A world famous harpsichordist and conductor he was born in Canterbury and became a chorister at the Cathedral there aged seven. In 1972 he founded the English Concert, an ensemble devoted to the authentic performance of Baroque and early Classical music, and directed the group for thirty years. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1992. Among many orchestras that he now guest conducts he enjoys a regular relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester. Trevor says that being Kent born and bred and President of the Faversham Music Club he is extremely happy to be associated with the Deal Festival, a prestigious event in the annual cultural calendar of Kent