Wednesday, 12 December 2012

If you want to avoid the carols

Not everyone wants to get into the Christmas spirit by singing carols, and even if, unlike me, you actually enjoy carols then a little can go a long way. But  there are now a number of events around London which provide interesting music for those wishing to escape. The Spitalfields Winter Festival is now on, running from 7 December to 18 December at venues in and around Spitalfields. St Johns Smith Square's annual Christmas festival runs from 13 December to 23 December. And there are one or two intriguing events at the Barbican, plus The Flying Dutchman lands at the South Bank.


At Spitalfields, Saturday 15 December sees Gabrieli, conductor Paul McCreesh, performing a programme of music based around Britten's A Boy was Born.  Sunday 16 December there is a sold out event, A Musical Feast which does involve food and music (no wonder its sold out). The final two concerts are the English Concert in Bach's Magnificat and Corelli's Christmas Concerto, and Christian Curmyn and Early Opera in Vivaldi's Angels.

At St John's Smith Square, there is a delectable array of artists lined up for concerts between 13 December and 23 December. If you do want carols, then the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford is performing them, and you don't get much better than that. You can compare and contrast performances of Britten's A Boy was Born as the choir of Kings College, Cambridge perform it at St Johns. Then there is Messiah, St. John's has two on offer, the Apollo Choir and Orchestra by Candlelight, and Polphony with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, in what is almost an annual event. The OAE are also supporting the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge in their performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio (parts 1, 2, 3, and 6).

But St. John's also offers repertoire which is well off the beaten track, with Ex Cathedra in  Hildegard of Bingen, Amy Beach and Judith Bingham, the Brabant Ensemble in A Renaissance Christmas in Paris, Oxford Baroque in polychoral music from Venice and Dresden and the Cardinall's Musick in Byrd. Further information from the St Johns' Smith Square website.

Over at the Barbican, The Sixteen are performing Messiah. But for an entirely different sort of experience, there is Grieg and Ibsen's Peer Gynt at the Barbican Hall on Saturday 15 December, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra intriguingly conducted by Mark Minkwoski. Grieg's complete music is being performed, plus actor Johannes Weisser as Peer Gynt. Also at the Barbican, you can see the film The Wizard of Oz with the score played live, thanks to modern technical wizardry, on 22 and 23 December, and the London Symphony Orchestra perform with Valery Gergiev. Further information from the Barbican website

And in amongst the Christmas-fare at Cadogan Hall, there is the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, being conducted by their founder, Sir Neville Marriner, in an all Mendelssohn programme on Wednesday 19 December. Further information from the Cadogan Hall website.

And before the  Royal Festival Hall settles down for Slava's Snow Show, you can catch Bryn Terfel as the Flying Dutchman with Zurich Opera, and Anja Kampe as Senta. Further information from the South Bank Centre website. Though perhaps the South Bank's ultimate antidote to carols is cabaret artiste Meow-Meow and her Little Match Girl show!

Elsewhere on this blog:

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