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Musical merrymaking
Classical Music

Musical merrymaking

Posted 07 December 2016   |   882 views   |   Music   |   Comments (0) Stock up on mince pies and get into the seasonal spirit with these classical music festivals all taking place in the run-up to Christmas.




The fourth Temple Winter Festival takes place 12-19 December 2016. This year’s festival comprises seven concerts, of which the first six will take place in Temple Church and the last in Middle Temple Hall. The event will launch with a performance from Temple Church Choir and Temple Singers to mark the 90th birthday of the Queen and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a programme of Bernstein, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Walton. Other evening performances come from Sansara, the Tallis Scholars, and the London Chorus. Harpist Catrin Finch and organist Greg Morris will give solo afternoon recitals. Classical Opera will conclude the festival with a performance of Messiah with Sarah Fox, Angela Simkin, Stuart Jackson and Neal Davies conducted by Ian Page.





Spitalfields Music’s 40th anniversary celebrations continues with the Winter Festival, which takes place 4-11 December. Melvyn Tan will give a recital featuring works by former Spitalfields Music artistic directors Judith Weir, Diana Burrell, Michael Berkeley, Rolf Hind and Jonathan Dove, including the London premiere of Dove’s Catching Fire and a new commission by Hind. The music of Bach will be showcased throughout the festival. Solomon’s Knot Baroque Collective will sing the B minor Mass from memory and without a conductor, and the Disappearing Dining Club will present an evening of fine dining accompanied by the composer’s violin works. Harry Bicket will direct the English Concert from the harpsichord in a programme inspired by Shakespeare, performed in the guise of an Elizabethan masque. The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments will also look back in time with Sound House, a programme inspired by Francis Bacon’s investigations into the magical properties of sound. Choral highlights include a performance by Gothic Voices, exploring the mythical and human aspects of the Virgin Mary through medieval and renaissance settings of Marian texts alongside contemporary interpretations.

Siglo de Oro will perform a seasonal programme inspired by medieval prayers, encompassing renaissance music, contemporary carols and newly-commissioned works, and The Sixteen will present works inspired by the Three Kings’ visit to the infant Jesus, with repertoire ranging from the renaissance to English Christmas classics. Other highlights include south Indian classical violinist Jyotsna Srikanth’s festival debut, an evening of jazz from the Thames Big Band and Hackney Creative Jazz Ensemble, a dance and music theatre show from Protein, and performances of three works from Spitalfields Music’s Open Call initiative.




St John’s 31st annual Christmas festival takes place 9-23 December. The event will launch with a concert from the Choir of King’s College London, featuring Tavener’s Ikon of the Nativity and Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil. Returning choirs include the City of London Choir, Cardinall’s Musick, Tenebrae, the Tallis Scholars, Ex Cathedra, Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford and the choirs of Merton College, Oxford and Clare College, Cambridge. The Gesualdo Six (SJSS young artists 2015/16) and La Nuova Musica will make their festival debuts. Young musicians from the National Youth Music Theatre will perform seasonal readings, music and staged extracts, and the Holst Singers and the City of London Sinfonia will present a programme inspired by English folksongs and Yuletide tales, complete with seasonal readings and sing-along carols. The festival’s only lunchtime concert will come from organist David Titterington, who will perform Messiaen’s La Nativitédu Seigneur. In keeping with tradition, performances of Messiah (Polyphony and OAE) and Bach’s Mass in B minor (Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and OAE) will conclude the festival.





The York Early Music Christmas Festival takes place 8-15 December, with ten concerts over eight days. The festival includes a performance from Trevor Pinnock, as part of a UK tour to mark his 70th year. The harpsichordist and conductor will be joined by Rachel Podger for works including Bach’s fifth Brandenburg concerto and Handel’s sonata in A for violin. Other highlights include a seasonal sequence of late medieval English carols, songs and motets from Gothic Voices, an all-Bach concert from the Yorkshire Bach Choir, period instrument ensemble Spiritato!, a ‘Winter Baroque Carnival’ programme from Red Priest, and a concert inspired by the sea-faring nations of 17th-century northern Europe from In Echo. Mince pies are provided at most concerts, many of which are held in St Margaret’s Church, York. Tickets cost £5-£30, with concessions available.




Running throughout December, Cadogan Hall’s Christmas series 2016 features orchestras, choirs, soloists and family events. Choral highlights include performances from The Sixteen, the Bach Choir and the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge. Tenebrae and the English Chamber Orchestra will perform Messiah (with Grace Davidson, Sarah Connolly, James Gilchrist and Christopher Purves as soloists), and Masaaki Suzuki will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (featuring Anna Dennis, Robin Blaze, Jeremy Budd and Ashley Riches). The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform three times, once with the City of London Choir in ‘A Choral Christmas’, and the London Concertante will present a Viennese programme, featuring works by Johann Strauss II, Brahms and Bottesini. The Rainer Hersch Orkestra will be joined by musician and poet John Hegley for a New Year’s Eve concert, with repertoire including the overture from Carmen, Strauss’s Pizzicato Polka and extracts from Beethoven’s ninth and fifth symphonies and the Emperor concerto. Now in its 25th year, the Children’s Trust’s Christmas Concert will feature the Amici Ensemble, the Super’s Choir of St George’s School, Windsor Castle, and the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music in repertoire including Vivaldi’s Gloria, John Rutter’s Nativity Carol, and Phil Wickham’s Innkeeper’s Carol. Children & the Arts will mark its tenth year with an event featuring soprano Danielle de Niese, pianist and singer Joe Stilgoe and flautist Lisa Friend. Family events include Ben Palmer conducting the Orchestra of St Paul’s in an interactive retelling of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, with music by Ian Stephens and narrated by Ruth Rosales. The second half of the concert is a screening of The Snowman to a live performance of Howard Blake’s score. A screening of Raymond Brigg’s film Father Christmas will be accompanied live by the Mozart Symphony Orchestra. The concert will also include Paddington Bear’s First Concert (narrated by Jack Dee), which tells the bear’s journey from Peru to his first ever concert at Cadogan Hall, and a short medley of melodies from Frozen.

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