Entries in Spitalfields Music (6)


Programme announced for Spitalfields Music Winter Festival 6-17 December 2013

Spitalfields Music Winter Festival returns in December to brighten the long winter nights with a series of concerts in the magnificent architecture and hidden corners of London’s liveliest neighbourhood.  Classical, jazz, folk and multi-media installations are all on the bill, in a line-up that features fine early music and contemporary sounds, with – and without – a seasonal twist: 

·       Exactly forty years to the day of its debut concert, The Hilliard Ensemble celebrates its birthday with a performance featuring lush renaissance harmonies, Britten’s magical setting of TS Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi, and a new work by Roger Marsh with text drawn from Laurence Sterne’s humorous novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. (Wednesday 11 December)

·       Composer and sound artist Claudia Molitor brings Remember Me, her miniature “opera in a desk” to London for the first time. Inspired by the antique desk inherited from her grandmother, Molitor explores an imagined friendship between doomed opera heroines, Dido and Eurydice. Complete with film, orchestral pit visit, interval refreshments and live performance, Remember Me is a playful operatic curio that celebrates every aspect of opera on a miniature scale. (Wednesday 11 December)

 ·       More traditional seasonal fare comes in the form of The English Concert’s performance of Handel’s Messiah, in the glorious setting of Hawksmoor’s architectural masterpiece, Christ Church Spitalfields, with soloists including Mary Bevan and Jennifer Johnston. (Monday 16 December)

·       At the Tower of London, organist William Whitehead opens another chapter of his Orgelbüchlein Project. Christian Wilson performs new organ chorale preludes by Roxanna Panufnik, Vincent Paulet, Guy-Olivier Ferla, Francis Pott and young Irish composer David Coonan alongside a selection of JS Bach’s own masterful chorales and music by Purcell and Humfrey, featuring David Miller (lute) and Tim Travers-Brown (countertenor). Bringing this project to the ancient Tower of London chapel has been made possible thanks to crowd-funded donations from Spitalfields Music supporters.  (Saturday 7 December)

·       “Belligerently brilliant”* Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus’ musical landscapes inhabit the experimental and jazz worlds as comfortably as the contemporary classical scene.  For Spitalfields Music Winter Festival he collaborates with RPS Music Award-winning ensemble Britten Sinfonia to create fresh interpretations of music from his acclaimed album The Matriarch and the Wrong Kind of Flowers. (Saturday 14 December). Also part of UK-Norwegian collaborative series, Conexions. 

·       La Nuova Musica, with countertenor Lawrence Zazzo, journey through the music of Handel, Ariosto and Bononcini, the trio of composers championed and most regularly commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music, the first opera company in the English-speaking world. (Friday 13 December)

·       From young buck to wily older composer, two ages of Vivaldi’s music for the theatre are explored by La Serenissima in a programme of sublime arias and concertos. (Friday 6 December)

·       The Sixteen gives 2013’s significant Britten and Poulenc anniversaries a rousing send off, including Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols with the young voices of Opera North Children’s Chorus, alongside a selection of medieval carols. (Tuesday 17 December)

·       Folk star Becky Unthank features in the London premiere of Crows’ Bones, Opera North Projects’ spooky night of ghost stories and pagan songs.  A top line-up of performers also includes accordionist Martin Green (from folk trio Lau), nykelharpa player Nikolas Roswall and vocalist Inge Thomson.  (Thursday 12 December)

·       Acclaimed consort Alamire serves up a feast of medieval melodies at Spitalfields Music’s popular ‘table music’ concert in the Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle. (Sunday 15 December)

·       Jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh combines melody and mysticism in a Winter Rasa – Sanskrit for the ‘divine nectar’ in music – travelling through the pagan and folk origins of seasonal music from Jerusalem to Andalusia and beyond.  Ghosh is joined by Spitalfields Music’s new all-male choir, EastEnd Notes, making their public debut in a new gospel blues work.  (Tuesday 10 December)

Two Winter Festival events draw on fascinating social history as explored through the archives and work of two pioneering East London institutions:

·       Women sing East, now in its tenth year, is joined by Bishopsgate Institute’s mixed choir, The Tubthumping Chorus, in The City of Rebellious Delight, a defiant exploration of the art of the protest song – from folk and union melodies, to political marching songs and football chants – as documented in the Bishopsgate Library archives since 1885.  (Saturday 14 December)

·       Acclaimed for her evocation and transformations of buildings and landscapes, visual artist Geraldine Pilgrim creates a new site-specific work that takes a journey across the historic Toynbee Hall and Studios, a centre for social, political and artistic activity since 1884.  Within a landscape of music, image and performance Pilgrim crafts dialogues between the site’s past and future.  Traces of lives are glimpsed in corners and windows, while footsteps echo to the sound of different voices of contemporary East London.  An Artsadmin commission produced in partnership with Spitalfields Music and Toynbee Hall. (Tuesday 11 – Saturday 14 December)

For family audiences:

·       Monteverdi opera for nought to twos takes centre stage with the return of Spitalfields Music’s Musical Rumpus: Mudlark Dances following sold out shows during the Summer Festival and an autumn tour of East London community venues. (Wednesday 11 December)

·       Spitalfields Music’s new Sound Explorers series for schools and family audiences continues with a new show for five to seven year-olds following a mouse-eye-view of the world through music, colour and words. Devised and presented by Isabelle Adams. (Monday 9 December)

·       Join the Crowd, a free taster session for Crowd Out, 2014’s biggest singing event (coming to Spitalfields Music Summer Festival next June), culminates in the switch on of Christmas lights at the historic Arnold Circus Bandstand.  The lights are designed by local resident and artist Rachel Whiteread who will also be on hand to flick the switch. (Saturday 7 December)

·       A new strand of Spitalfields Music’s extensive Learning & Participation programme, Takeover! poses the question: left to their own devices, what kind of festival would children create? Taking inspiration from Spitalfield Music’s summer and winter festivals, seven year-olds from Shapla Primary School stage a one-day musical takeover of all areas of their school, programming a festival for their own community without adult interference and deploying pupils, teachers, Spitalfields Music artists, and their families.  (Friday 13 December)


At several events, local purveyors of fine foods, Leila’s Shop, will be on hand to get concertgoers into the seasonal spirit with drinks and delicacies, with a choice of panettone and prosecco, pie and ale, mince pie and mulled wine all on offer, and pre-bookable for £7 alongside concert tickets.  Music also pops-up in the bars and restaurants in and around Spitalfields Market, included free in the price of a bite to eat or a drink at Leon, Canteen and Bedales on Sunday 8 December.


*Jazz Wise