Saturday 27 July 2013

Three Choirs Festival

The Three Choirs Festival opens in Gloucester today with two weeks of events. This year's centenarians feature with music by Britten, Wagner and Verdi featuring in the events. There is a lot of contemporary music, with festival commissions plus music by Arvo Part and others. Coleridge-Taylor also features, including a rare performance of his best known work, The Song of Hiawatha. English classics are not neglected and the festival concludes with Toby Spence singing the title role in Elgar's Dream of Gerontius.

The opening service this morning in Gloucester Cathedral included the premiere of two festival commissions, from James D'Angelo and John Hardy.  Other contemporary music in the festival includes Roderick Williams singing Torsten Rasch's Songs (a festival commission) plus two of Williams own songs in a programme which is based around the work of William Blake (30 July). Stephen Layton and Polyphony perform Arvo Part's Berliner Messe and Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten in a concert which also includes Sibelius's Second Symphony (30 July). Arvo Part's Stabat Mater features in a late night concert on 30 July alongside music by Gesualdo given by Musica Beata and the Philharmonia. And Part's Magnificat pops up at Evensong on 31 July.

Christian Forshaw and his Sanctuary Ensemble perform a programme of Forshaw's music (1 August). Evensong on 2 August is devoted to the music of John Sanders, who was artistic director of the Three Choirs Festival Gloucester from 1984 to 1994. And there is a one-act opera, The Bargee's Wife by John O'Hara with Barbara Dickson in the title role (4 August).  Brett Dean's Komarov's Fall features in the Philharmonia's concert tomorrow (28 July), with Holst's The Planets and Phliip Higham playing the Elgar Cello Concerto.

In fact, there is a lot of English music this year. The St Cecilia Singers give an all Britten programme tomorrow (28 July). Tenor Robert Murray is performing Britten's Winter Words in recital with songs by Poulenc (2 August).  Coleridge Taylor's music crops up in various places, his Violin Sonata (29 July), Evening Service in F (1 August) and best known work The Song of Hiawatha with soloists Hye-Youn Lee, Robin Tritschler and Benedict Nelson (1 August). More traditional fare, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast with Njabulo Madlala as the soloists (2 August) and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius (3 August) with Toby Spence, Kai Ruutel and Matthew Rose.are also on the programme.

Soprano Der-Shin Hwang, with James D'Angelo (piano) will be giving a performance of Hindemith's Das Marienleben (31 July).

Other artists performing include Peter Donohoe in recital, Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, which is the festival's resident ensemble and Edward Gardner conducts Verdi and Wagner.

Further information from the Three Choirs Festival website.
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