This year’s Festival opens in Canterbury Cathedral Nave with the fabulous ensemble The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra (sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University). They perform one of the most magnificent and charismatic pieces in the classical repertoire, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, the rhythms, choruses and stunning solos ideally suited to Canterbury Cathedral.
Early music followers will also want to catch the lunchtime concert by Canterbury Gregorian Music Society which includes several well-known Marian chants as well as less-familiar items. Snowdown Colliery Male Voice Choir performs in St Peter’s Methodist Church.
The Festival will be brought to a triumphant close in the Cathedral Nave by the celebrated early music ensemble Tallis Scholars (sponsored by Sponsored by The Sir John Swire 1989 Charitable Trust and Fenwick) with a popular programme mixing old and new pieces.
Jess Gillam at Canterbury Cathedral
The Cathedral Nave also hosts what is sure to be a Festival musical highlight. A collaboration between saxophonist Jess Gillam, the Frisian Symphonic Wind Orchestra and Ivor Novello Award-winning composer John Harle, The Keys of Canterbury (sponsored by by Canterbury Auction Galleries) has been specially commissioned for the Canterbury Festival.
The work combines the solo saxophone with brass instruments separated by some distance to capitalise on the Cathedral setting and its unique acoustics. The programme also features works by Brahms, Faure and Shostakovitch as well as works from Jess’ classical chart-topping album Rise.
Book early and don’t miss this opportunity to see one of the brightest stars in music today with this distinguished orchestra, repeat winners at the World Music Contest, in the premiere of this innovative and exciting piece.
The story of Clara Schumann
Enjoy a completely different classical musical experience with I, Clara (sponsored by The King’s School Canterbury), the life story of Clara Schumann, one of the few famous women composers of her time. Juliet Stevenson plays the title role combining Clara’s rebellious nature, vivid love life and searing tragedy accompanied by pianist Lucy Parham playing pieces by Clara and Robert Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Chopin.
Aficionados of the piano will also enjoy the recital by Finghin Collins including works by Mozart, a selection from the exciting Ros Tapestry Suite and a Schubert Sonata. Both these events take place in the Shirley Hall.
The Sacconi Quartet (sponsored by HMY LLP) features works by Rachmaninov, Arvo Part, Beethoven and Dove in its programme in the Great Hall, Kent College. The Dove work, In Damascus, recounts stories of life in a war-torn Syrian city and features the tenor Robin Tritschler, BBC New Generation Artist.
Classical Fusion in Canterbury
Those looking for some classical fusion will find Classico Latino with Omar Puente provides a seamless blend of the techniques and sounds of classical music with authentic Latin American rhythms and melodies.
Also, book early to avoid missing the unique musical comedy act Opera-lele (sponsored by Coombs) closing the Festival’s classical programme in style on the Festival’s last night in the Spiegeltent. Opera and musical theatre are given the emotional power, yet nicely understated treatment, of the ukulele. Find out what it is about Opera-lele that has been bringing audiences to their feet on stages and at festivals across the UK and overseas.
Add to this the Festival’s much-prized and annual performance by the Canterbury Choral Society in the acoustically estimable Colyer-Fergusson Hall. This year there is a break with tradition as works by Vaughan Williams and Holst are joined by evocative music from Argentina accompanied by guitars, piano and percussion. This is an evening of diversity not to be missed.
More varying colours can be found in A Musical Tapestry, a programme of classics and improvised pieces with David Rees-Williams, Ian Bellamy, Ian Crowther and the Festival Chamber Orchestra Ensemble.
Talented Kent Youth
Finally, do catch the musicians of the future at the Festival this year. The Bursary Competition Final (sponsored by the Canterbury Festival Foundation) for young players in the St Gregory’s Centre for Music is always an evening of talent, technical brilliance, poise and flair as the role of Festival Ambassador for the year is chosen.
Those able to attend daytime events can find free lunchtime concerts throughout the Festival both in St Gregory’s and the Spiegeltent which showcase musicians of all ages and works for all tastes.
Easy like Sunday morning at Canterbury Festival 2019
Looking for the best of Sunday morning Festival entertainment? Head for Invicta Jazz who present their repertoire of big band classics and standards in the beautiful Spiegeltent.
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