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Thursday, 7 June 2012

City of London Festival

The City of London Festival opens in a couple of week's time on 24 June, running until 27 July. An amazing explosion of events cover the City for a month starting with a Festival Service at St. Paul's Cathedral where Judith Bingham's Missa Brevis The Road to Emmaeus and The Pilgrimes Travels will be sung and the Bishop of London will preach. One of the advantages of the festival is that the square mile has an amazing profusion of superb historic venues where concerts can be put on.

This year the festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The first festival featured the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis and guitarist John Williams and all will be returning for this festival. The LSO and Colin Davis are giving two performances of Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts in St. Paul's Cathedral with Barry Banks as the tenor soloist (25 and 26 June); essential listening for all of us Berlioz lovers, especially as the Requiem is too big for Davis to include in his Barbican concert series. John Williams will be giving a recital on an Australian theme at Fishmongers Hall (10 July).

In addition to Judith Bingham, there are plenty of other contemporary composers. The LSO Brass Quintet are playing a new fanfare by Francisco Coll at the Goldsmiths Hall (27 June), Tansy Davies has a new piece for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) under conductor Edward Gardner (should be an interesting combination!) at the Mansion House (28 June). Nigel Osborne has written a new piece especially for Clarence Adoo's Headspace Ensemble; Adoo is a musician who was paralysed in a road accident 15 years ago and uses a specially designed Headspace instrument. (6 and 7 July). Also on 6 July in the great hall of the Guildhall, the Swedish Wind Ensemble will be directed by trombonist Christian Lindberg and will be playing a piece of Lindberg's own.

Other personal highlights include the OAE again, under Nicholas Cleobury, at St Bride's Church (4 July), playing Judith Bingham's Jacob's Ladder and the premiere of The Hythe plus a Handel organ concerto and the Pergolesi Stabat Mater. A delightfully named Dutch vocal group, Wishful Singing in a programme of Lassus and Morley to Paul Patterson.

Lunchtime recitals, often free, include many from Guildhall School musicians, including an all Walton programme including the piano quartet and Songs from the Lord Mayor's Table (13 July). Also in 13 July, the Aurora Orchestra and Nicholas Collon are performing Biber, Holst, Shostakovich and Julian Phillips in what seems to be a war themed concert.

You'll need to visit their website to find out more.

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