Two Previews: Cotswold Early Music Festival and an Organ Festival in Cirencester:

21/04/2011

Cotswold Early Music Festival and an Organ Festival in Cirencester: previews by Roger Jones (RJ)

Cirencester is reputed to have been Britannia’s second largest city in Roman times, but since the demise of the Roman Empire it has become a much more tranquil place. However, its residents will have a rude awakening in June when the town becomes the centre of not one, but two music festivals – the Cotswold Early Music Festival and the Cirencester Organ Festival, the one following on from the other.

The former, founded by the renowned harpsichordist Richard Lester, is now in its twelfth year and takes place a month earlier this time round. It starts off with a performance by the York Waits who, while they may not have any instruments dating from Roman times, have plenty of medieval ones. The Waits will be playing on a “noyse of shawms” which were very much in vogue before 1600; and crumhorns, saggbuts, hurdy-gurdies and citterns will enliven the proceedings. If you prefer psalteries, citoles, synfonyes and rebecs, Simon Pickard, billed as The Medieval One Man Band, will play these the following morning.

I have never considered Mozart as a member of the early music brigade, but the smooth talking Artistic Director of the CEMF, Warwick Cole, has persuaded me that he is, and to prove it he is planning a programme of the composer’s earlier works (plus works by Christian Bach and J C F Bach) entitled Midsummer Mozart (June 14th). This will be performed by the Corelli Orchestra conducted by Mr Cole. The following evening the wonderfully named Musical and Amicable Society will be visiting Rendcomb College near Cirencester to play music for violins and continuo by Schmelzer, Biber, Fux and some more familiar composers. During the morning of that day the Icelandic musician Arngeir Hauksson will be in town to play baroque lute and guitar music from France.

Lovers of Bach’s cello suites will be able to hear Warwick Cole in action on the morning of the 16th. The Festival ends with a choral concert celebrating the music of Vittoria sung by the up-and-coming ensemble Glevum Consort in the “wool church” of Northleach just off the A40.

The congregation of the Church of St John the Baptist are proud (and rightly so) of the recent extensive rebuild of the church’s 1865 organ,by Harrison & Harrison, and are keen to show off its qualities by organising a week of organ recitals. Their Festival starts off on June 18th with a recital by Dame Gillian Weir playing an eclectic mix of works by Liszt, Franck, Dupré, Buxtehude, Guy Boret, Georgi Muschel and others. On subsequent days there are lunchtime organ recitals by visiting artists and a choral concert featuring local ensembles on June 24th. Nigel Ogden rounds off the week with a programme of organ music in a lighter mood on June 25th.

For further information check the relevant websites: www.cotswoldemf.org.uk and www.cirencesterorganfestival.co.uk .

Roger Jones

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