Thursday 24 March 2022

Bouncing back: Spitalfields Music 2022

Christchurch Spitalfields - Spitalfields Festival

The last few years have been hard work for everyone in the arts. Smaller festivals often lack the cushioning of support from well-heeled patrons that bigger ones can have, and it is always heartening to see them bouncing back. Spitalfields Music's 2022 festival definitely shows the festival on a roll, with two weeks of events in East London (30 June to 13 July 2022) including 20 world premieres, centenary celebrations, solidarity with silenced Afghani musicians, a contemplation of our relationship to the natural world, and music from Bach and Biber to Stravinsky.

The festival opens with a celebration of the Spitalfields Mathematical Society which, from 1717 met in taverns around Christ Church "the public at large an opportunity of increasing their knowledge, on terms so easy, as to be within the reach of every individual, who has a taste to cultivate, or curiosity to gratify." It thrived for over a century before merging into the Royal Astronomical Society in the 1840s, educating "many weavers, and the rest were typically brewers, braziers, bakers, bricklayers". So, Professor James Sparks will be giving a lecture on The Mathematical Genius of Bach with musical illustrations from the City of London Sinfonia.

The Canticle of the Sun presents a reimagining of St Francis of Assisi's text by composer Arun Gosh, using spiritual music from across the world. Cayenne Ponchione-Bailey conducts the Oxford Phiharmonic Orchestra in a programme of music created by Afghani musicians in exile, all of whom have fled Afghanistan or are in hiding because of the Taliban. The programme will feature new pieces alongside arrangements of Afghan traditional songs for an orchestra of instruments from Afghanistan and the Western classical music tradition. Kazakh violinist Aisha Orazbayeva will be performing Biber's complete cycle of Mystery Sonatas on Baroque violin

A composer fascinated by British folk customs and an Iraqi film maker, Neil Luck and Hydar Dewachi come together with young people from our Neighbourhood Schools in Tower Hamlets and the Blackheath Morris Dancing Group to explore our need for ceremony.

Nevertheless, she persisted features Her Ensemble, the UK's first women and non-binary orchestra in music by women including Dobrinka Tabakova, Leokadiya Kashperova, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Barbara Strozzi. Inner City Brass features a new work by Callum Au alongside music by Susan LaBarr, Schumann, Bach, Mogens Andresen, Øystein Baadsvik, & Bruce Broughton. Rex Lawson will bring his dazzling pianola skills to bear on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring along with a piece Stravinsky actually wrote for pianola. Not to be missed.

There will be new work from Laura Bowler, a multi-media chamber piece Distance performed by soprano Juliet Bowler and Talea Ensemble. George Parris and the Carice Singers will be performing RVW's Mass in G minor alongside new works by Aileen Sweeney, Will Harmer, Claire Victoria Roberts, James Batty, Electra Perivolaris, and Michele Deiana. GBSR Duo and Mira Benjamin will be performing music by Barbara Monk Feldman.

The festival ends with a concert where Voces8 is joined by TUKS Camerata, an outstanding student choir from the University of Pretoria, South Africa for music on the theme of hope.

Full details from the festival website.

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