Summer Festival Season in Full Swing; Christopher Morley Picks Some of the Highlights from Two Classical Music Festivals Taking Place This Summer

The Birmingham Post (England), July 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

Summer Festival Season in Full Swing; Christopher Morley Picks Some of the Highlights from Two Classical Music Festivals Taking Place This Summer


Byline: Christopher Morley

UMMER is always festival time, and as ever our region boasts so many of them.

SLongborough Festival Opera in the Cotswolds is all but over this time round, and attention moves now to Worcester which is where this year's Three Choirs' Festival - the 287th - is being held between July 26 and August 2. A festival village will be set up on College Green offering food and drinks to accompany the musical entertainment.

This will be Worcester organist and choirmaster Peter Nardone's first stint as festival artistic director and he looks forward to welcoming the residency of the Philharmonia Orchestra during the week.

The declaration of the First World War a century ago is commemorated during the festival, beginning with A Shropshire Lad in the atmospheric Huntingdon Hall on July 26, when the much-loved baritone Roderick Williams delivers a selection of songs by British composers (2.30pm).

Later that evening Nardone conducts full Three Choirs forces in Britten's War Requiem, Hereford's Geraint Bowen the assistant conductor, in Worcester Cathedral (7.45pm).

But the most spectacular acknowledgement of the outbreak of the war comes on July 31 in the cathedral, with the world premiere of A Foreign Field by Torsten Rasch, which is a joint commission from the Three Choirs Festival and Chemnitz Opera to commemorate the men on both sides who died during the conflict as well as marking the destruction of Chemnitz by bombing on March 5, 1945.

Scored for soprano and baritone soloists, boys' choir, chorus and orchestra, this substantial 43-minute work consists of settings of texts from the Old Testament and by Ivor Gurney, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, Georg Trakl and Rainer Maria Rilke. Funds for its commissioning have been raised from various private donors as well as established foundations and trusts, Friends of the Dymock Poets and the Elmley Foundation among them.

This will be quite an evening, beginning as it does with Elgar's Laurence Binyon choral trilogy The Spirit of England (premiered under the baton of Appleby Matthews in Birmingham actually while the war was still going on). …

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