THE CAMBRIDGE SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL - PREVIEW WEEK ONE
It’s certainly a head turner – J.S. Bach playing an electric guitar. You’ve probably seen that striking image on posters around the town heralding the arrival of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. It neatly encapsulates the thinking behind this annual event – a celebration not only of the works of the king of Baroque and Roll but the many later composers inspired by the great man’s oeuvre. Bach is but one of the main themes of this year’s festival – the other is the oft neglected music of women composers. They are represented in works by the 12th century Hildegard von Bingen, Clara Schumann, Alma Mahler plus contemporary voices such as Reena Esmail whose new work was commissioned by the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus (and you can catch it here on 21 July).
The festival gets off to a truly powerful, nay glorious, start with a concert by English Voices of Bach’s St John Passion (13 July) in what is described as ‘a historically-informed performance’. Star singers Nicholas Mulroy and Richard Latham take the main roles and the forces at West Road Concert Hall are all under the baton of Tim Brown.
From the start the pace of musical delights set off in rhythmic gallop (like a Bach concerto). On the 14 July those highly talented youngsters of Junior Prime Brass will perform Bach chorales and works by female composers such as Judith Bingham and the superbly named Maria Theresia von Paradis. On the same day there’s a rare chance to hear the Danish choir Lille MUKO who will present works by Scandinavian composers who are also inspired by the bewigged genius from Leipzig.
What strikes one about this embarrassment of riches is the sheer variety of the programming; not only formal classical concerts but innovative offerings such as the Come and Sing with Bob Chilcott on the 14th and the family concert on the theme of Beowulf with music by Toby Young which features a children’s choir and strong folk-pop influences (it’s on 16 July).
Another day another great concert – on the 17 July, duettists Jennifer Pike and Martin Roscoe will be presenting works by Bach and Poland’s Grazyna Bacewicz along with Vaughan Williams’ ever-popular Lark Ascending and Elgar’s sumptuous Violin Sonata.
If you can catch your breath after this treasury of melodic riches, there’s a lunchtime recital of songs the next day (18 July) given by soprano Lucy Taylor and pianist Jeremy Thurlow. The pieces focus on the theme of love (heartbreaks and joy) and a concert that same evening including piano works by Clara Schumann.
One of the highlights of the first week must be the Gesualdo Six performing music from the British Isles from the 15th to the 21st centuries and the complete Bach Brandenburg Concertos on the 20 July. In case you need a lie down after all this wonderful music making, forget it, this is only week one of a three-week extravaganza.
The Cambridge Critique will be reviewing some of the concerts and previewing the many exciting events in the second and third weeks. Come back and check us out.
For more information: http://cambridgesummermusic.co.uk.
Tickets: Cambridge Live Tickets, Wheeler Street, Cambridge CB2 3QB.