Adrian Horsewood

Festival Previews

10:14, 8th August 2016


Stour Music, 17–26 June

Stile Antico open proceedings with their ‘Sacred or Profane’ programme, exploring the often blurred lines between sacred and secular music in Renaissance Europe. Viol consort Fretwork celebrates its 30th anniversary with a concert of verse anthems by Gibbons, Tomkins and Byrd, for which it is joined by the Magdalena Consort; other visitors include the King’s Consort with Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbres, Florilegium with the complete Brandenburg Concertos, and the Sixteen as part of their annual Choral Pilgrimage. www.stourmusic.org.uk


MAFestival Brugge, 5–18 August

‘In Praise of Folly’, by Erasmus, is the starting point for the 2016 MAFestival, which explores satire and madness in music, including Boismortier’s comédie lyrique on the story of Don Quixote, performed by Le Concert Spirituel. A psychiatric hospital hosts a concert of mad songs; a concert day in the town of Lissewege looks at the cross-pollination between folk and baroque music. www.mafestival.be

Spitalfields Music Summer Festival, 2–26 June

This summer marks 40 years since the birth of what would grow to become Spitalfields Music, and this year’s festival continues the strong early music tradition. The choir of Clare College, Cambridge sing Tallis’s Spem in alium with the work that inspired it, Striggio’s Ecce beatam lucem; Christian Curnyn brings his Early Opera Company to perform Luigi Rossi’s masterpiece for Holy Week, and soprano Anna Devin is one of the soloists in the English Concert’s performance of Vivaldi’s La Senna festeggiante. www.spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk

Leipzig Bach Festival, 10–19 June

This year’s festival focuses on Bach’s ‘Secrets of Harmony’, exploring his unparalleled command of counterpoint and his amplification of the spoken word through music; performers include the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester and Riccardo Chailly, and Les Arts Florissants and William Christie. www.bachfestleipzig.de

Gregynog Festival, 16–26 June

Artistic director Rhian Davies celebrates 10 years in charge with a programme focusing on the cultural connections between Ireland and Wales. Jordi Savall and Hespérion XXI join Celtic fiddler Martin Hayes, harpist Siobhán Armstrong brings her Irish Consort to perform ‘Music from the Kingdom of Ireland, 1500–1800’, and the opening concert is given by violinist Aoife Ní Bhríain, combining unaccompanied Bach and traditional fiddle music. gregynogfestival.org

Festival de Saintes, 8–16 July

Lionel Meunier and Vox Luminis open this year’s festival with a performance of Purcell’s King Arthur, and also showcase the sacred music of J.S. Bach and Pachelbel. Other highlights include Graindelavoix in works by Rore, and Philippe Herreweghe conducting the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées in Beethoven’s fifth and seventh symphonies. www.abbayeauxdames.org/festival-de-saintes

 Stoke Newington Early Music Festival, 8–16 July

This community-based and -supported festival, founded in 1995, welcomes a new director this year in Helen Kruger – an accomplished baroque violinist whose Little Baroque Company opens this year’s event with a performance of J.S. Bach’s ‘Coffee’ Cantata complete with refreshments. At the heart of the festival are two vibrant UK ensembles, recorder consort Consortium5 and and viol consort Chelys; also featuring are the Telling, with a programme of music and readings about the life of St Hildegard of Bingen. www.stokenewingtonearlymusic.org.uk

York Early Music Festival, 8–16 July

This year’s festival marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death; Alamire, the OAE and the Sixteen are high-profile visitors, while the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists perform Purcell’s ­The Fairy Queen. Sollazzo Ensemble, the winners of last year’s International Early Music Competition at York, present their prize concert, and German recorder player Tabea Debus – currently a young artist at St John’s Smith Square gives a recital of English and continental music exploring Shakespeare’s onstage and offstage worlds. www.ncem.co.uk/yemf

Innsbruck Festival of Early Music, 19 July–27 August

There are more 40th birthday celebrations out in Austria. René Jacobs, who appeared as a counter-tenor in the very first festival, conducts Gluck’s Alceste; the other operas in the programme are Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Cesti’s Le nozze in sogno. Concert highlights include Christoph Rousset directing his Les Talens Lyriques in music by Charpentier, Marais, Couperin and Rebel. www.altemusik.at

Itinéraire Baroque, 28–31 July

This Dordogne-based festival, which uses venues in several medieval hill villages, is the fiefdom of Ton Koopman, who bookends proceedings with an all-Bach concert at the start and Haydn’s Nelson and Mozart’s Coronation Masses to finish. Other artists include Fabio Bonizzoni and La Risonanza, and La Cetra Barockorchester. www.itinerairebaroque.com

Festival Oude Musiek, Utrecht, 26 August–4 September

One of the world’s largest early music festivals turns its attention this summer to Venice: over 150 concerts and related activities will take place under the banner of ‘La Serenissima’, with performances by artists including L’Arpeggiata, Vox Luminis, Ensemble Correspondances, Le Concert Spirituel, Les Musiciens du Louvre, and Collegium 1704. Swiss bass-baritone Stephen MacLeod brings his ensemble Gli Angeli Genève to be artists-in-residence for the duration of the festival. oudemuziek.nl/festival

Medieval Music in the Dales, 2–4 September

One of the UK’s only event dedicated solely to the music of the middle ages, this weekend festival takes place at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire; as well as concerts there will be instruments for sale, workshops, coaching sessions and even a medieval market. Artists in the central festival concert include festival organisers Trouvère, wind band Blondel and harpist Leah Stuttard, while leading Scottish group Gaita also give a daytime concert. www.medievalminstrels.com/MMITD.php

Cumnock Tryst, 29 September–2 October

The Cumnock Tryst Festival continues its relationship with celebrated early music specialists, the Sixteen: Eamonn Dougan returns to conduct the Cumnock Festival Chorus performance and Genesis Sixteen will be giving a candle-lit concert at this year’s festival. Meanwhile, John Kenny, who is artist in residence at this year’s Tryst, will treat the audience at the Festival finale at Dumfries House to the rare opportunity to hear the carnyx, the old Celtic instrument of which he is a champion. www.thecumnocktryst.com

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