Early music banquets, drawing-room performances, 15th century carols, songs of love and intoxication, ghostly tales, concerts for young ears and a Messiah debut – just some of what you can experience at this year’s Winter Festival. So as we excitedly reveal our 2011 Winter programme, we thought we’d ask our Executive Director to share a little bit about how this diverse, yet carefully constructed programme has come together…
How to put together an alternative end to the year – a festival for December? I suppose the unwritten rule is that there should be a sense of party pervading everything, but a very Spitalfields party. Not West End, not Southbank, just E1. So, some time just after the previous one is complete – January, February – off we set, thinking about our Winter Festival.
Our aim is to come up with a programme which is warm, inviting, varied and offers some surprises – an end to the year which feels unusual, whilst at the same time being of the highest quality.
After the success of The English Concert’s Tafelmusik in the summer, we started talking to other local restaurants about musical feasts and Galvin La Chapelle seemed like the natural next choice with their beautifully restored chapel building – perfect for The Sixteen. We’re aiming for a kind of end-of-year party feel (we’re aware that the main clash in people’s diaries to attending Winter Festival events is often end of the year parties). A different kind of party will take place in The English Restaurant with story-tellers White Rabbit. Together with six musicians they will tell a series of ghost stories by candlelight.
Gallicantus have been making waves with their CD Dialogues of Sorrow – a gloomy title, but seeringly beautiful music, very well executed by this new group. So they make their debut. In sharp contrast to I Fagiolini who have been involved in many Festivals and make a welcome return to celebrate their 25th birthday. Tom Waits’s new album is out mid autumn and Gavin Bryars and friends bring their circus band to town, performing arrangements and tributes to the great songwriter. Meanwhile London Contemporary Orchestra, who first performed in the Festival in Summer 2010, make their second visit with a world premiere of a new work by young composer Martin Suckling. The piece is ‘crowdfunded’, so rather than commissioned by a single person, the work is the collective effort of over 50 donors.
One of our questions along the way was whether to include Messiah, which of course will be performed in concert halls in London through December. In this sense not unique at all. In the end the answer was yes, because it’s a debut for La Nuova Musica – the first time they have tackled the piece – and because to hear this piece in a building such as Christ Church will be very special.
No theme this year then – no point forcing one if it isn’t there – but hopefully a series of events which will bring a special feel to Spitalfields this winter.
Winter Festival booking opens 19 December, with priority booking for Patrons opening on 12 September. For full programme details, please visit spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk or view our online brochure.
Tickets are available from our website, or you can call our box office between 10am and 6pm, Mon-Fri on 020 7377 1362.