I am writing this on one of the hottest days of the year so far and at the end of London’s most festive summer ever. It seems strange to be thinking about our Winter Festival and its aim to provide some relief to cold dark days and to the tiredness of an autumn’s work as London anticipates some time off to recharge.
Our scale is so different from everything which has been happening over the summer, but it has struck me that no matter what size, the joy of a festival is that provides a happy space to do something beyond the everyday. And I hope that you’ll find this within our Winter Festival again this year.
As we publish our brochure, with its drawings by local artist Adam Dant, we publish again the results of a whole range of artists’ approaches to invention and exploration. It’s becoming ever more difficult for any artist to make new work or to present unknown repertoire as funding pulls in, but this does not dull the imperative to innovate. Two regular festival groups leap out of the programme this year for their continued search for new ways of presenting work. I Fagiolini will collaborate with puppeteer Matthew Robins to present David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion, a modern classic with many resonances for our current times, performing it alongside Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude. EXAUDI will work with festival newcomers Opera Erratica to create an intimate opera with holographs to music from, amongst others, the infamous 16th century madrigalist (and murderer) Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. Performed in the tiny intimacy of Hoxton Hall, one of London’s small collection of surviving music halls, their project is one not to be missed.
Equally ambitious is William Whitehead’s Orgelbüchlein project, which will be performed in the splendour of The Chapel Royal at the Tower of London. He has invited some of our leading composers to create new pieces which will extend the collection.
We’re also welcoming back Early Opera Company, Gabrieli Consort & Players and The English Concert with a dazzling series of concerts and old favourites such as In the House and A Musical Feast appear once again. Plus, of course, our usual array of events for young ears offers the best music by the best musicians for a first-time hearing.
For me, hearing about these projects is a huge motivation to continue our quest to find the funding we need to promote them. This year we’ve added something different – drawing on some of our Festival photography in recent years we’ve created some Christmas cards and thanks to the generosity of our printers 100% of the income from them can be directed back into our work. Do consider a pack as you buy your Winter Festival tickets! We’re also continuing to run Buy One, Donate Oneand I hope you might consider helping us give a free ticket to someone from Tower Hamlets who has not previously attended.
Enjoy reading about our Winter Festival – I hope you are tempted by something within it and look forward to seeing you in December.