The Cheltenham Music Festival begins this week, running 3-14 July with a wide range of chamber, orchestral and choral music both old and new, accompanied by a series of talks and discussions.
The Belcea Quartet and pianist Till Fellner open the festival on Wednesday morning at the Pittville Pump Room with chamber music by Schubert, Mozart and Dvořák. This is followed by the first of two performances of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde at Tewkesbury Abbey (3 July, 4pm; 4 July, 6pm). The CBSO under Robert Ziegler finishes the first day with a programme of film music presented by Mark Kermode with special guest Jim Broadbent at the Town Hall.
The premiere of David Sawer’s The Lighthouse Keepers is performed as part of a double bill of ‘radio plays’ with Morton Feldman’s Words and Music by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group conducted by Martyn Brabbins on 4 July at the Parabola Arts Centre, preceded by a talk between Sawer and BCMG director Stephen Newbould.
Colin and David Matthews will be interviewed as part of a three-course lunch at the Ellenborough Park Hotel (£35, including lunch, wine and drink), following the Schubert Ensemble’s performance of Colin Matthews’ Nowhere to Hide and David Matthews’ Four Portraits (Pittville Pump Room, 11am).
Further premieres include works by Dai Fujikura, Kenneth Hesketh, David Onac, Simon Holt, Marton Illes, Antony Pitts, Gabriel Jackson, Michael Zev Gordon and Hywel Davies (further details here).
The Carducci Quartet enjoys a ‘mini-residency’, performing in Noye’s Fludde and giving children’s concerts as well as a recital including David Onac’s new sixth string quartet on 8 July.
The quartet is also part of a series of talks entitled What’s it like to be… discussing life in a quartet on 9 July. Peter Wiegold leads discussion of life as a composer as the conclusion of the festival’s Composer Academy on 7 July, and Mikel Toms, whose blog has provided witty occasional punctuations to the classical music world since June last year, reveals What’s it like to be a conductor on 8 July.
Two talks in the Cheltenham Festivals Laboratory series explore connections between music and medicine: World of Surgery: Instruments looks at what the word ‘instrument’ means to surgeons, performers and musical instrument makers with professor Roger Kneebone (11 July, 11am); and World Of Surgery: The Ensemble Performance explores a project which compared vascular surgeons and string quartet players (13 July, 10am).
Other highlights include a concert by Radio 3 New Generation Artists of music by Duparc, Massenet, Respighi, Mozart and a new work by Martin Illes, performed by the Signum Quartet, mezzo-soprano Clara Mouriz, clarinettist Mark Simpson and pianist Joseph Middleton (11 July) and a talk by Longborough Opera’s Martin Graham on his independent company’s experience of staging a complete Ring cycle (11 July).
The festival concludes on 14 July with the City of London Sinfonia, French horn player Richard Watkins and tenor Toby Spence conducted by Stephen Layton in a programme including Vaughan Williams, Britten, Pärt, Tippett and a new work by Michael Zev Gordon, The Gleam of Hidden Skies.