Thursday 10 June 2021

More than just a festival: MusicFest Aberystwyth returns with live and streamed events, and an on-line Summer school


Following a digital event in 2020 MusicFest Aberystwyth is returning with live events and a tempting array of artists performing in the lovely West Wales town from 24 July to 30 July, with concerts being a mixture of live and on-line (with screenings at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre). And alongside the festival there is a lively on-line Summer school with courses running from 10 July to 4 August 2021.

The festival is opened by harpist Catrin Finch in a diverse programme which an accent on Welsh composers including John Parry (1776-1851) and William Mathias, plus a recent work by Paul Patterson. Pianist and composer Yshani Perinpanayagam premieres a new piece by Welsh composer Sarah Lianne Lewis alongside music by Beethoven, Morfydd Owen (1891-1918) and Debussy, cellist Guy Johnston plays Bach's Cello Suites spread across two concerts,

On-line, the Solem Quartet give the Welsh premiere of Aaron Parker's Tuóretu alongside quartets by Beethoven and Bartok, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective is joined by tenor Karim Sulayman for a in intriguing programme of music for voice and instruments from Handel, Schubert, RVW, Beethoven, Poulenc and Hahn, and Amy Beach's Piano Trio.

Alongside the performances is the festival's annual Summer school. As last year, this is running on-line but they hope to return to a live experience in 2022. The Summer school presents 'A selection of specially designed online courses for you to collaborate and learn with one of our internationally renowned tutors and likeminded musicians', and tutors include the festival's artistic director, David Campbell, clarinettist Robert Plane, speech-therapist and counter-tenor Dr Ron Morris, flautist Karen Jones, fiddle and pipes player Patrick Rimes, conductor James Henshaw, saxophonists Kyle Horch and Lars Lien, and composer Nico Muhly. The festival also has a range of bursaries to help students, graduates and young musicians attend the courses.

The festival has a history stretching back to 1986 and earlier. The Department of Music at the then University College Wales was one of Britain's first music departments with guest lecturers and visitors including Bartók, Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Holst. When the department closed in the early 1980s a group of teachers had the idea to start a family music project in association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre, and this soon more formally developed into MusicFest Aberystwyth in 1986. David Campbell has been artistic director since 2001 and the festival has developed its extensive annual Summer school which attracts artists and students from across the globe. And most recently composer Nathan James Dearden has joined the festival as associate artistic director.

Applications are currently open (closing 14 June 2021) for two creatives from or based in Wales to collaborate on the creation of a digital installation inspired by the rich landscape and culture of Aberystwyth, and to be premiered this Summer.

Full details from the MusicFest Aberystwyth website.

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