If you want two weeks of great music with some thoughtful programming, the Cheltenham Music Festival (29th June-10th July) could be just the ticket. Aficionados of new music will find plenty to attract them.
Top billing, given that it comes hot-on-the-heels of the critical and popular success of Anna Nicole, goes to a welcome revival of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s first opera Greek.The piece, a translation of the Oedipus myth into Thatcherite East London, will be given by Music Theatre Wales as part of their wider tour of the work. There are also premières aplenty.
Some of these fit nicely into the festival’s ‘Music and Maths’ theme. The world première of Charlotte Bray’s Replay (June 30th), for example, was inspired by spherical geometry and will be played alongside an established work by Robert Saxton, A Yardstick to the Stars. The two composers will also give one of a number of talks during the festival exploring the ‘Maths and Music’ theme. The mathematics of metre permeates much of the surface of another well-represented composer at the festival: Steve Reich. Cheltenham provides the opportunity to hear his seminal work Drumming (3rd July) as well as UK premières of new arrangements of Electric Counterpoint, Six Marimbas Counterpoint and Vermont Counterpoint (also 3rd July). Celebrated percussionist Evelyn Glennie performs in a concert that contains two, as yet unnamed, world premières from Joseph Phibbs and Hannah Kendall (1st July) whilst Arlene Sierra’s new work inspired by scientific studies of insect behaviour, Insects in Amber, will receive its European première by the Carducci Quartet (8th July).
Other premières fall less obviously into the festival’s overall themes, but are no less to be recommended. These include Ian Venables’ Remember This, based upon Andrew Motion’s elegy on the death of the Queen Mother (29th June); Edward Rushton’s Pandora, Organic Machine (10th July); Michael Berkeley’s Ode–In Memoriam (1st July) and, in a special event that will take place on September 11th, Richard Blackford’s substantial new work Not in our Time will mark 10 years since the 9/11 attacks in New York.
My source inside the festival tells me that tickets for the new music events are going quickly. Get yours soon…
For more details about these and other festival concerts visit: http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/music.