Bath International Music Festival's 65th anniversary
Bath International Music Festival's new director – composer Alasdair Nicolson – kicks off his first series of events with another Party in the City
It's a celebration of local musical talent with choirs, groups and bands offering a free evening of music performed in venues across the city on Friday, May 24. Party in The City itself kicks off with a fabulous carnival built around the festival theme of monsters, myths and magic. A parade featuring hundreds of school children culminates at Bath Abbey with a performance of Stephen Deazley's A Little Book of Monsters.
In this 65th anniversary year the festival features an exhilarating combination of genres, performers and repertoire.
Highlights includes Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas at the city's historic Roman Baths, performances of the complete Brandenburg Concertos by Bach, performed by Florilegium while the BBC Singers come to Bath for the first time to perform the UK premiere of Paul Crabtree's Nine Tenebrae Responsories on songs of Bob Dylan.
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There is also the world premiere of a new cabaret opera An Eye For An Eyee, the true story of two maids who committed one of the most monstrous murders in French history.
Alasdair's programme is well in tune with festival tradition: it has a strong classical core complemented by jazz, folk and cabaret.
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This year, however, it has a distinctive new style, introducing new partnerships and allowing artists to perform in different contexts and in unique combinations.
National and international artists will appear in residency in the city with audiences able to enjoy their performances across a number of different events.
For example, as well as performing their own repertoire at the Guildhall on Tuesday May 28, the Danish String Quartet will be joined by the highly acclaimed Sacconi Quartet to play octets by Mendelssohn and Svendsen, and Strauss' sextet from Capriccio in an exclusive concert, only for Bath International Music Festival at the Assembly Rooms venue on Wednesday, May 29.
Bath's own orchestra Bath Philharmonia performs a programme of colourful and exciting music including Berlioz, Ravel and Bizet in The Forum on Friday, May 31 with mezzo soprano Anna Huntley.
As always, there is a lively education programme running alongside the main music programme, with a series of master classes, workshops and school events.
Certain events will be presented in venues around Bath and North East Somerset as part of the Festival On Tour initiative.
Scotland is strongly represented at this year's festival with headline appearances by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra led by Alexander Janiczek on the opening night of the festival, Wednesday, May 22 at Bath Abbey and again the following night at Bath's largest venue The Forum.
There are also a number of performances and unique collaborations by the Hebrides Ensemble, who are joined by mezzo soprano Anna Huntley on Sunday, May 26 at the Guildhall performing work by Mozart, Ravel and Berio as well as a new work by Eloise Gynn.
Acclaimed Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland makes his Bath debut, as do a host of stellar Scandinavian performers including the exceptional Danish String Quartet, the unique harmonica ensemble from Finland, Sväng and the traditional Swedish Folk trio Väsen.
For 2013, the content of Alasdair Nicolson's first programme for Bath has been built around the themes of monsters, myths, mystics and magic and these themes are reflected throughout much of the festival repertoire.
In an inspirational new production of Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas at the city's historic Roman Baths, Martin Constantine directs singers from the Royal College of Music and the outstanding baroque ensemble, Florilegium in this mythical masterpiece.
Many of the festival's featured composers this year have a mystical dimension to their work. Fratres by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt will feature as part of the opening night concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Bath Abbey on Wednesday, May 22. Alexander Janiczek gives a late night solo violin recital of Bach in Bath Abbey on Sunday May 26 and on the festival's final day, Sunday June 2, there is a special performance of the Complete Brandenburg Concertos by Bach, performed by Florilegium.
Folk music is well represented across the festival repertoire, from the enchanting stories conveyed in the music of both the Gjermund Larsen Trio and Väsen to the virtuoso fiddle playing and reverie of the talented British folk performer Seth Lakeman, who plays The Forum on Saturday, June 1.
Voice is powerfully represented in this year's festival with some of the greatest singers from each genre in performance.
Canadian soprano, Measha Brueggergosman performs Ravel, Britten, Wagner, Turina and Poulenc at Bath's Assembly Rooms on Thursday, May 23 and The BBC Singers come to Bath for the first time to perform at St Mary's Bathwick on Saturday, May 25, their repertoire including the UK premiere of Paul Crabtree's Nine Tenebrae Responsories on songs of Bob Dylan.
Harry Nicoll one of the UK's finest tenors gives a recital in the Assembly Rooms on Sunday, May 25, accompanied by James Baillieu.
Contemporary jazz vocalist Norma Winstone appears at the Guildhall with pianist Glauco Venier and reed player Klaus Gesing on Saturday, May 25, while the anarchic Belgian crossover jazz band Flat Earth Society play Bath's late night venue Komedia on Sunday, May 26.
There are two performances of the world premiere of David Knotts' new cabaret opera An Eye for An Eye featuring mezzo sopranos Harriet Williams and Jessica Walker and on Friday, May 31, Death's Cabaret showcases a ground breaking new cabaret concerto, specially commissioned for cellist and baritone Matthew Sharp, accompanied by the Sacconi Quartet.
Meow Meow brings her post-pop, modern performance art to Komedia, on Wednesday, May 29 and on Sunday, June 2, the festival closes with an event specially created for Bath International Music Festival and dedicated to Jacques Brel, George Brassens and Barbara, Jessica Walker sings, accompanied by artistic director Alasdair Nicolson.