Good running: contemporary music at this year’s Cheltenham Festival

May 30, 2013

There’s a veritable feast of contemporary music in store in July at this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival.

20130401-181718.jpgThere’s a concert from the Choir of Royal Holloway and Dame Felicity Lott in a prgramme that will include Britten, Poulenc, Michael Berkeley, Anthony Pitts and a new piece by Gabriel Jackson.

The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge bring a programme of Britten, Pärt, John Tavener and Howells, amongst other pieces.

The City of London Sinfonia perform Britten, Michael Zev Gordon, and Tippett‘s vivacious Concerto for Double String Orchestra.

Credit: Festival website

Brothers Colin and David Matthews are featured in a concert from the Schubert Ensemble, whilst the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group première The Lighthouse Keepers by David Sawer alongside the Feldman/Beckett Words and Music (Sawer appears In Conversation before the concert).

The music of Dai Fujikura features alongside music by Britten, Poulenc and Stravinsky‘s Rite of Spring in a two-piano concert extravaganza as well.

Lots to look forward too; lots of success to the Cheltenham Music Festival in July!

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Reach for the stars: recent events at the festival

May 13, 2012

It’s been an epic few days across the Festival recently, ranging from intimate recitals to transcendental meditative states in Canterbury Cathedral.

Rhona McKail

Rhona McKail

Day seven on Thursday saw a lunchtime recital In Praise of Dreams with soprano Rhona McKail and pianist Yshani Perinpanayagam in their lunchtime recital, before the focus shifted out to the Turner Contemporary gallery at Margate for the world premiere of Les Malèdictions d’une Furie, a monodrama by John Croft performed by Loré Lixenberg. Prior to the performance, both Croft and Lixenberg appeared in conversation with Festival Director, Paul Edlin.

New Perspectives ensemble

New Perspectives ensemble

Friday’s lunchtime concert was a sonic exploration in the youthful company of the New Perspectives ensemble, in the chamber-ensemble-meets-electronics world of Jonathan Harvey’s Bhakti; young performers from the Royal College of Music, conducted by Timothy Lines, bathed the audience in the rich colours of Harvey’s unique and visionary soundworld. St Gregory’s was full to bursting for the concert, to the extent that festival assistants were having to put out extra chairs as audience members continued to arrive right up until the concert began.

The visionary nature of the day continued into the evening, as Canterbury Cathedral echoed to the sounds of John Tavener’s The Veil of the Temple, an large-scale meditative work for which the composer himself, in frail health, made the pilgrimage to Canterbury. Nigel Short led Tenebrae and members of the English Chamber Orchestra in Tavener’s epic, all-embracing pan-religious odyssey, which after its two-and-three-quarter-hour performance was greeted with rapturous applause. (The composer himself can be seen seated in the front row on the left in the photo below).

Veil of the Temple

Veil of the Temple

Yesterday’s events continued the journey into the stars, with Darrah Morgan Exploding Stars in works for violin and electronics, including the premiere of Jonty Harrisons’ Some of its Parts. Earlier in the morning, composer Frank Lyons ranged freely over an eclectic range of musical styles in a composition workshop. Top-brass came to the Festival in the evening, as the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (wryly observing on Twittter earlier in the day that they were en route to a ‘local gig’) came to the Cathedral with a programme including John McCabe’s Cloudcatcher Fells and an arrangements for brass of Holst’s The Planets, which, in its original incarnation as Paul Edlin observed, remains one of the previous century’s most influential works.

Against the backdrop of all this, the New Music in Britain conference unfolded in a series of papers and talks exploring aspects of the British contemporary musical landscape and papers focusing on key composers including Birtwistle and Maxwell Davies.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are still three days yet to come, with today’s celebration of Worldwide Mother’s Day in a feast of family events at the Gulbenkian, and a visit from legendary British jazz pianist Julian Joseph tonight.

Phew…

Images: Peter Cook