Under the leadership of Artistic Director Alison Balsom OBE, the 2019 Cheltenham Music Festival opens this weekend, featuring a plethora of AH artists. Ahead of the festival, Alison spoke of her excitement in presenting this year’s programme:
“The 2019 Music Festival marks its 75th anniversary, and we celebrate with major World Premieres, world-leading ensembles, Festival debuts and we welcome back much-loved regulars. Come and explore a whole host of unique events only to be heard in Cheltenham this summer!”
Alison herself will appear on the opening weekend alongside the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner. This bespoke all-British programme is based around a world premiere from the first female composer to be commissioned by the Festival in 1956, Thea Musgrave. Her Trumpet Concerto has been co-commissioned for the Festival by the CBSO (in celebration of their centenary) and the LA Philharmonic specifically for Alison.
Nicola Benedetti also makes a return appearance at this year’s festival on 12 July, performing a variety of works by Handel and Vivaldi with the Academy of Ancient Music and conductor/harpsichordist Richard Egarr. Nicola returns to Cheltenham having most recently appeared with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for their latest European tour.
Alongside orchestral concerts, the festival will feature a thrilling recital programme. The Heath Quartet will make their Cheltenham Music Festival debut this year on 13 July with a recital that demonstrates their versatility; equally at home presenting the momentous Beethoven String Quartet No 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130, as they are with the original and captivating works by Dobrinka Tabakova. This performance will feature two works by Tabakova, including a world premiere, and Ravel String Quartet in F Major.
On 6 July, Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang will give a captivating recital of Spanish flavoured works, accompanied by one of the UK’s leading flamenco dancers, Maria Vega. The duo previously toured China with this programme and will go on to visit the Chipping Norton Festival in September.
Viktoria Mullova will be joined by her son, Misha Mullov-Abbado, an acclaimed jazz bassist and former BBC New Generation Artist, on 11 July for an “eclectic and brilliant boundary-crossing programme“, performing some of their most loved pieces of music, from Bach and Prokofiev to John McLaughlin and works by Misha himself. The pair joined for a concert earlier this year at Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, and will travel on to the Petworth Festival after appearing in Cheltenham.
Lucy Crowe, accompanied by Anna Tilbrook, will give a concert on 12 July showcasing the sheer breadth of song and lieder available for the soprano voice, ranging from Purcell, Schubert and Mendelssohn to Strauss, Debussy and Porter. The performance will also feature a world premiere of a new song, Youth Gone, by Jonathan Dove
The Festival will run from 5 – 14 July and you can find more information about all of the performances mentioned on the Cheltenham International Festival website.