The Stars Descend on Bradfield

Bradfield Festival of Music opens its doors for the 19th time on the 25th of June, or more precisely, the picturesquely set Church of St Nicholas in High Bradfield does.

The big names are coming again: Julian Lloyd Webber (although he’s not performing), Emma Johnson, Tine Thing Helseth, Kathryn Stott among them, to perform in the late 15th century (with origins dating back to the 11th) church on the edge of the Peak District.

Lloyd Webber’s appearance, An Evening with Julian Lloyd Webber (30th of June), finds the festival’s president making his fifth visit and deciding to talk about his career and let his wife, Jiaxin, also a cellist, do the playing with splendid Romanian/ Nigerian pianist Rebeca Omordia.

Hard to believe he will not play something, even if it’s only ‘In the Half-light’ by his dad William whose music he champions. Other pieces in the concert: nice to see some John Ireland, albeit not complete, can be found in the entry for it on the Classical Sheffield website Calendar – ditto, all the concerts!

A fascinating proposition presents itself in Norwegian trumpet queen Tine Thing Helseth’s concert with Kathryn Stott the previous evening (29th of June), that of hearing their transcription of Grieg’s song cycle Haugtussa, not to mention and five early Puccini songs not from operas!

Emma Johnson’s jazz-inflected concert 24 hours earlier has a similar compulsive look and feel about it, playing classics by legendary jazz clarinettists Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Sydney Bechet (strictly, soprano saxophonist) with Bradfield regular, pianist John Lenehan and high profile percussionist Paul Clarvis.

British concert pianist Philip Dyson, who enjoys considerably more acclaim and fame across Europe and particularly in America than, curiously, he does on home shores, just about equally divides his programme (1st of July) between the likes of Beethoven and Gershwin.

Ensemble Berlin (27th of June), an established chamber group in its own right from the Berlin Philharmonic, no less, offer a super six-item programme that includes a Figaro Fantasia by Hummel with a prominent viola and ‘Souvenir de Donizetti’ with a prominent bassoon by James Waterson (1834-93).

Returning to open the festival (25th of June) is globe-trotting a cappella octet VOCES8 with a concert that runs a whole gamut of styles from Byrd and Schütz to the present day, and the Woodwind Ensemble of the RAF College Band close it (2nd of July) with another attractive selection of items.


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