Monday 28 April 2014

Hats Off - City of London Festival 2014

City of London Festival
This year's City of London Festival is the first to be programmed by new artistic director Paul Gudgin. This year the festival runs from 22 June to 17 July 2014, and celebrates Korea as well as bringing a new lively pop-up theatre. One of the delights of the festival is its venues, ranging from large scale orchestral concerts in St. Paul's Cathedral, to free lunchtime concerts in City churches and a wide range of events in the livery halls.

The festival opens with Bruckner's Ninth Symphony with Daniel Harding conducting the London Symphony Orchestra at St. Paul's Cathedral. The Bruckner is paired with Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (3 July). The London Symphony Orchestra returns with another large scale ninth symphony, this time Beethoven's, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung with soloists Kathleen Kim, Songmi Yang, Yosep Kang, Jongmin Park (15 July).

The soloists in the Beethoven are all Korean, which chimes in with one of the themes of the festival, the development of Korean talent. Pianist Sunwook Kim is performing (see below), whilst pianist Yeol-Eum Son performs Schumann, Alkan, Stravinsky and Godowsky (14 July), and a group of young players, Kumho Asiana Soloists, perform Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time (18 July).

Other orchestral concerts include the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields at the Mansion House, directed by Inon Barnatan in an all Beethoven programme with Simon Callow reading Beethoven's letters (30 June), and the Barbican Young Orchestra making their first Festival appearance, conducted by Edward Gardner in Walton's Cello Concerto (with soloist Michael Petrov) and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (22 June).

One of the joys of the festival is the huge array of venues available in the City of London. In addition to the Mansion House (which hosts the Academy of St Martin in the Fields above), the Drapers Hall hosts Andrew Kennedy, Iain Burnside and Matthew Cammelle in The Fateful Voyage looking at the composers and a poet who sailed to the Dardanelles (23 June), whilst Korean pianist Sunwook Kim plays Scriabin, Franck and Schumann at the Stationers Hall (25 June). The Nash Ensemble have a pair of concerts, Stravinsky, Mozart and Brahms at the Merchant Taylors Hall (7 July) and Milhaud, Ravel and Franck at the Goldsmiths Hall (10 July). Whilst Nicola Benedetti performs her Scottish fiddle music inspired programme at the Guildhall Great Hall (14 July).

There is a whole series of free lunchtime concerts in different City churches with students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a chance to explore a wide variety of churches and hear some good music played by talented new players, entirely free.

Choral music at the festival includes the National Youth Chamber Choir in a programme of music written by young composers from Handel to Britten (24 June), the girl choristers from Southwark, Guildford and St. Albans Cathedral in Judith Bingham, Kenneth Leighton and Gabriel Faure (his Messe Basse) showcasing the revolution which has come over Cathedral church music with the advent of girls choirs (28 June). JAM are presenting two concerts, the choir of Selwyn College, directed by Sarah Macdonald perform Rachmaninov's Vespers paired with James Weeks Orlando Tenebrae (9 July), and Mousai Singers and Onyx Brass, directed by Daniel Cook, perform a programme of Handel, Giles Swayne and John McCabe (16 July).

There is also the chance to take part in choral workshops at the Gresham Centre, with a variety of types of music on offer including a choral workshop with Greg Beardsell (12 July). Lectures at Gresham College include Sir Thomas Harris on Britain's Relations with Korea (27n June) and Professor David Howard on The Science of Singing (30 June).

There is a new pop-up theatre in Paternoster Square, The Bowler Hat, which is hosting children's theatre, a series of debates on Justice, Money and Power, comedy, cabaret, and circus theatre. A programme of jazz includes Clare Teal, Colombian timbalero Roberto Pia and a series of concerts exploring Duke Ellington's music.

Further information from City of London Festival website.

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