From a Tender Age

We’re very excited to announce the theme of our 2015 Oxford Chamber Music Festival ‘From a Tender Age’. Once again Priya Mitchell will be bringing an exceptional group of musicians to Oxford, including some old festival friends and newer faces as well.

The concerts will take place in the Holywell Music Room from 30th September to 3rd October and tickets are available to book from Tickets Oxford now or phone 01865 305 305.

This year’s festival was dedicated to the memory of Lord Claus Moser (1922-2015).



Wednesday 30th September, 7:30pm, Holywell Music Room

Expectation and Fate

Mahler Piano quartet

Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte

Vierne Piano quintet op. 42

Messiaen Appel Interstellaire

Mendelssohn Violin concerto in d minor (1822)

Book tickets here.

Our voyage into the music of childhood and youth sets out with a masterpiece which will be a major discovery for many – Vierne’s memorial to his son, killed in WW1, a piece full of compassion, anger and memorable sweeping melodies. Messiaen calls across space to a colleague who died young, Ravel calls across time to an age of grace, and the young Mahler and Mendelssohn serve notice of future greatness.

We will also be playing Steve Reich’s Different Trains from 7pm as the audience arrives, a profound reflection on children journeying into an unknowable future.

OCMF_2015_concert_illustration_fate KopieAn exclusive post-concert celebration for supporting members of OCMF will be held after the concert at The Vaults & Garden Café. Join the musicians for drinks and enjoy some more music. Please apply to the Friends Office (friends@ocmf.net) to attend this event. You will also be able to buy a delicious fixed-price buffet supper at The Vaults.

Thursday 1st October, 1pm, Holywell Music Room


Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf, arranged by David Matthews

Readings and an improvised musical journey through Alice in Wonderland

Narrated by Philip Pullman

Book tickets here.

The hopes and fears and magic of childhood, as evoked in Prokofiev’s classic fable of Peter capturing the big, bad Wolf, and through the Festival musicians’ witty response to episodes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice, read by world-famous author Philip Pullman.


Thursday 1st October, 7:30pm, Holywell Music Room


Shostakovich Piano trio no.1, op8 in C minor

Prokofiev Suite from Romeo and Juliet

Suk Piano quartet, op.1

Mozart Piano concerto no.9 “Jeunehomme”

Book tickets here.

The most famous pair of young lovers in literature, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, portrayed in Prokofiev’s unforgettable melodies, alongside three marvellous pieces by very different young composers. The Czech Josef Suk, aged 17, has the fresh exuberance of his teacher Dvorak; 16-year-old Shostakovich packs a huge range of moods into his dramatic short trio; and the 21-year-old Mozart astonishes with both glittering elegance and tragic depth.


Friday 2nd October, 1pm, Holywell Music Room

Early Impressions

Beethoven Piano trio op.1 no.1

Elgar Romance for violin and piano op.1

Fauré Piano quartet no.2 in G minor, op.45

Book tickets here.

Two ‘opus 1’s here – first published works. Beethoven had already wowed Vienna as a pianist, so a piano trio for the domestic market made sense. But Beethoven typically broke the domestic mould in grand, symphonic style. Elgar’s salon piece was the calling-card of an impoverished provincial violin teacher whose symphonic dramas lay decades ahead. By contrast, the mature Fauré recalls the sounds of his Pyrenean childhood in one of his greatest masterpieces.


Friday 2nd October, 5:30pm, Merton College Chapel

To the Memory of an Angel

Bach Cantata BWV82, ‘Ich habe genug’

Berg Violin concerto ‘To the Memory of an Angel’  (arr. Abendroth for solo violin, strings and organ)

Book tickets here.

Here is one of the peaks of the violin repertoire, Berg’s unique concerto, dedicated “to the memory of an angel” – the 18-year-old daughter of Mahler’s widow. It is played in a remarkable new arrangement which the Financial Times picked out as a highlight of this year’s prestigious Kuhmo Festival in Finland. Our performance exploits the mighty world-class organ of Merton College Chapel, and we add the Bach cantata from which Berg drew the moving theme of his finale.


Friday 2nd October, 7:30pm, Holywell Music Room


Schubert Ouverture in c, D8

Korngold Violin sonata op6

Schumann Kinderszenen (Scenes from childhood)

Brahms Piano trio no.1 op8

Book tickets here.

Korngold was perhaps the most prodigious of child prodigies, his High-Romantic music played by great players across Europe before he was 15 years old. Schubert’s adolescent ‘ouverture’ lay unpublished for nearly 140 years, but its storminess already reveals his true voice. Brahms was famously hailed as “a young eagle” by his mentor Schumann, whose childhood scenes are beloved of generations of young pianists.


Friday 2nd October, 9:30pm, The Vaults and Garden Café

(Almost) Midnight Feast

Join us for a post-concert celebration with the musicians for drinks and some more music! A delicious fixed-price supper will be served at The Vaults.

To book your space at the midnight feast, please email Rhian at office@ocmf.net.


Friday 2nd October, 11pm, University Church

Staying up late!

To include:

Wagner Siegfried Idyll

Debussy Children’s Corner

Scott Joplin Ragtime

Tchaikovsky Mélodie

Morricone Cinema Paradiso

Book tickets here.

Don’t tell the grownups – come and join the Festival musicians for a very special rendezvous by candlelight in the atmospheric University Church, as they share some of their own most precious childhood musical enthusiasms.

You do not need a ticket for this concert; please feel free to just pop along and enjoy some interesting anecdotes from the festival musicians.


Saturday 3rd October, 12pm, University Church

Brunch Concert for Grown-Ups and Children!

Ravel Mother Goose

Beethoven Für Elise

Ridout Ferdinand the Bull

Saint-Saëns The Elephant

Fauré Dolly

Mozart Bread and Butter

Book tickets here.

Here for the delight of children, and of the child within us all, are an Elephantine double-bass, a cast of fairy-tale characters led by a Goose; and a flamboyantly Spanish Bull (played by a violin) who’s strangely more excited by the smell of flowers than by the chance to gore a matador. They’re surrounded by memorable miniature jewels to tickle young ears and old.

We will also be serving a tasty brunch at The Vaults and Garden Cafe from 11am. Come down and join us before what is going to be a wonderfully relaxed morning. To book a space at brunch please email Rhian on office@ocmf.net.


Saturday 3rd October, 7:30pm, Holywell Music Room

From Promise to Genius

Rachmaninov Trio Élégiaque no.1

Britten Elegy for viola solo

Sibelius Water Drops

Richard Strauss Piano quartet op.13

Mendelssohn String octet in Eb op.20

Book tickets here.

We celebrate the end of our Festival with surely the most perfect and astonishing music ever written by a teenager. Before the miraculous Mendelssohn Octet, the young Britten and Sibelius explore the innermost character of the string instruments, and we have two contrasting teenage Romantics – Rachmaninov baring his Russian soul, and the brash young Strauss launching fireworks across the keyboard.


Oxford Chamber Music Festival 2014


the creative process is fascinating, elusive and often misunderstood. For musicians it begins when the score – the heart, soul and intellect of a composer – comes to life in music. In this year’s Festival I wanted to evoke a parallel with creation in its Biblical context: a story endlessly mysterious, perplexing and yet life affirming – chaos, birth, awakening, wonder and epic drama.

We begin with Tabula Rasa, tracing melody in the first light of dawn and an improvisation between the cello and tabla, and finish with two great works at either end of the spectrum of silence: Cage’s notorious 4‘33‘‘ and the universally beloved Schubert String Quintet.

I very much hope you will find joy, inspiration and something fresh and new in this OCMF Creation. It will be a great pleasure for me to welcome you very warmly to the Festival!

Priya Mitchell, Artistic Director


01865 305305



Saturday 20th September, 7.30pm, Waddesdon Manor


Priya Mitchell – Violin
Rachel Roberts – Viola
Thomas Carroll – Cello



Join Priya Mitchell and her special guests for a chamber concert in the spectacular setting of Windmill Hill, in a delightful programme of Mozart’s Duo in G Major for Violin and Viola, Beethoven’s String Trio No.1, op.9, and Schubert’s String Trio in Bb, D471.


Windmill Farm, Waddesdon Manor,

Tuesday, 30th September, 6pm

Phoenix Picturehouse

Creation – the film


In 1831, 22year-old Charles Darwin joined HMS Beagle as ship’s naturalist for a voyage around the world. The voyage lasted 5 years and propelled Darwin with his scientific findings into the growing fire of debate between science and religious factions, fuelled by publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.


Creation (2009) is a biographical film drama. Paul Bettany and his real-life wife Jennifer Connelly play Charles and Emma Darwin, and Martha West their eldest daughter Annie who warms to Charles’ tales about nature and his theory of evolution. Devoutly religious, Emma recognises the threat to her current religious beliefs about Creation, and opposes Charles’ ambitions for publication. Their love is tested by the tensions through the drama, and we share the tumult of religion and science in his lifetime. The film at first failed to find a distributor willing to show the film in the United States.


Creation, the film, opens the Oxford Chamber Music Festival that takes the same ‘Creation’ theme this week 1st – 4th October. Charles Darwin was also interested in the evolutionary origins of music being researched during the 19th century, and the Festival offers music composed before and after the momentous realisation of Evolution. Listening to the Festival this week we may wonder if there is a scientific truth about musicianship or is God still the arbiter of who is musically blessed? Do we always want to know the truth, or would we, like Emma, continue to want to believe?


Wednesday 1st October, Holywell Music Room

Evening Concert 7.45

Rebel Cahos

Barley Morning raga

Milhaud La Création du Monde

Bach from The Art of Fugue

Brahms Sextet no 2 in G, op 36

Chaos, Tabula Rasa, First Light

Before Creation there was Chaos: the French baroque composer Jean-Féry Rebel’s evocation of Chaos still has the power to shock! Earth awakens in a morning raga, and also in Milhaud’s lyrical ballet, based on an African creation myth and saturated in the ‘blue notes’ of jazz. Bach’s musical lines divide and proliferate, and Brahms miraculously creates music on 24 strings which is as light and clear as the air we breathe.


Thursday 2nd October, Holywell Music Room

Lunchtime Concert 1pm

Debussy Reflets dans l’eau and Des pas sur la neige

Chopin ‘Ocean waves’ étude

Jobim Aguas de Março

Brahms Violin sonata no. 1 ‘Regenlied’

Atmosphere, Water

From the thunderous energy of the ocean to the eerie, muffled quiet of snowfall; from the end-of-summer torrential rains of Brazil to the softer rain on the windowpane of a Northern European childhood. This concert celebrates the moods and symbolism of water: the stuff of life, flowing like time.


Thursday 2nd October, Holywell Music Room

Evening Concert 7.45pm

Strauss Capriccio: Priya Mitchell (Violin), Hugo Ticciati (Violin), Meghan Cassidy (Viola), Vladimir Mendelssohn (Viola), Jamie Walton (Cello), Julian Arp (Cello)
Rameau Gavotte et 6 doubles: Natacha Kudritskaya (piano)
Brahms Piano Quartett op 60, slow movement: Priya Mitchell (Violin), Vladimir Mendelssohn (Viola), Julian Arp (Cello), Dirk Mommertz (Piano)
Bach Partita III Gavotte en rondeau and modern improvized dialogue with the Partita: Hugo Ticciati (Violin)
Azerbaijani Mugam – improvisation: Hugo Ticciati (Violin), Matthew Barley (Cello), Priya Mitchell (Violin), Meghan Cassidy (Viola), Jamie Walton (Cello)
Beethoven Violin Sonata Nr. 6, slow movement: Vilde Frang (Violin), Natacha Kudritskaya (piano)
Mozart Queen of the Night: Erica Eloff (Soprano), Wolfgang Abendroth (Piano)
Bach Prelude and Fugue in C: Natacha Kudritskaya (piano)
Faure Piano Quartett No 1, Slow movement: Priya Mitchell (Violin), Vladimir Mendelssohn (Viola), Jamie Walton (Cello), Dirk Mommertz (Piano)
Beethoven Cavatina from String quartet op. 130: Hugo Ticciati (Violin), Priya Mitchell (Violin), Vladimir Mendelssohn (Viola), Matthew Barley (Cello)
Crumb Vox Balaenae: Tom Hancox (Flute), Julian Arp (Cello), Dirk Mommertz (Piano)
Strauss Morgen, arrangement for piano qintet: Priya Mitchell (Violin), Hugo Ticciati (Violin), Vladimir Mendelssohn (Viola), Julian Arp (Cello), Dirk Mommertz (Piano)

In between the ‘live’ music we relayed a patchwork quilt of ethnic musics, natural and man-made sounds, and human greetings in many languages, of the kind which can be found on the Voyager Golden Record. 
You can  find extensive material on the NASA websites and archives relating to the mission:
to hear the actual audio tracks on the Golden Record, go to:
while the Wikipedia entry is also worthwhile:

Message from Earth

In 1977 the space probe Voyager 1 left earth for the far reaches of the universe, carrying a ‘message in a bottle’ about Earth and the human race to any life-form that might find it. On board was a gold-plated recording of various human musics, including landmarks of the Western classical tradition. Imagine you’re the finder, out there beyond ‘the final frontier’. Clear your mind and hear these pieces for the first time…

Themenfoto_messageHow would we understand music if we’d never heard any before?

Friday 3rd October, Holywell Music Room

Lunchtime Concert 1pm

Bach Goldberg variations

Sun, Moon, Stars

One of the great scholars of baroque music borrowed the words of Thomas Browne, written 100 years before this piece, to describe the Goldberg Variations: “an Hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole World, and creatures of God… that Harmony which intellectually sounds in the ears of God.”

Here Bach’s infinite inventiveness and sheer joy in creation are displayed in the brilliant transcription by Russian violinist Dmitri Sitkovetsky, using three string players to vary the texture and colour of Bach’s intricately woven lines.


Friday 3rd October, Holywell Music Room

Evening Concert 7.45pm

Beethoven ‘Moonlight’ Sonata

Debussy Clair de lune and Cello sonata

Takemitsu Orion

Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht (arr. Steuermann for piano trio)

Heavenly Bodies

The night sky is illuminated here by Beethoven’s utterly unique early masterpiece, the ‘Moonlight’ piano sonata, and by Debussy’s very different take on moonlight. The Japanese Toru Takemitsupaints a watercolour impression of Orion, while at the opposite extreme Schoenberg’s supremely Romantic Transfigured Night transforms the dark Vienna woods of Freudian doubt with the radiant full moon of love.



Friday 3rd October, The Vaults & Garden Café

Dinner Concert 9.30pm


Works by Casals, Haydn and others

Birds and Sea Creatures

An intimate, late evening event including a two-course supper and wine with impromptu music from the Festival musicians.


Saturday 4th October, University Church of St Mary

Lunchtime Concert 1pm

Buxtehude Magnificat

Mozart selection from The Magic Flute

Barley & Abendroth  Improvisation

Copland The Cat and the Mouse

Schumann Papillons

Tavener The Lamb

Saint-Saens The Swan

Breath of life – man and beast

A miniature menagerie: butterflies, a bird-man, two cats and one mouse, a majestic swan, and John Tavener and William Blake’s famous little lamb, all dancing to a Magic Flute.

Music as nimble or as languid, as feather-light or as brilliantly-coloured as the animal kingdom itself.


Saturday 4th October, Holywell Music Room

Evening Concert 7.45pm

Cage 4’33”

Bach ‘Cello suite no 1

Bruckner Stille Betrachtung

Schnittke Silent Night

Schubert String quintet in C


After the labour of Creation, a final rest and a blessing. Bach dances alone, joyfully; Bruckner contemplates a silent view on an autumn evening. Cage famously contemplates the impossibility of silence, Schnittke mocks it, and Schubert sees beyond the beauty or rawness of created things to give us a glimpse of the infinite.


Oxford Chamber Music Festival 2013


Concerts, including film screenings, fringe events and late suppers with music, take place in many of Oxford’s most beautiful venues, including Holywell Music Room, the vaults at the University Church and the Church of St Michael at the North Gate.

“Caravan – Gypsy Folk celebrates the melancholy, longing and passionate abandon of gypsy music through classical music and other genres inspired by it across the centuries. The Romany spirit – unique, intense, richly seductive and colourful caught the imagination of composers as early as Vivaldi and still influences contemporary composers including our composer in residence Vladimir Mendelssohn. I hope you will come and join the party with music that makes you want to dance and cry at the same time.”

Priya Mitchell, Artistic Director


01865 305305

Priority Booking for Members of OCMF opens 15 July
General Booking from 30 July.


OCMF 2013 Homepage

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Priya Mitchell and Guy Johnston perform pieces for violin and cello at Windmill Hill, Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury.

Saturday 14 September

Programme to include Ravel and Kodaly Duos, Bach Inventions and a work specially written for Priya and Guy by leading British composer David Matthews.






En route to the well-established Autumn Festival in Oxford, Priya Mitchell and friends present a mini-Festival series of Spring concerts. Through concerts, a film screening, free foyer events, and pre-concert talks, this mini-festival is a foretaste to introduce the 2013 Festival theme of Caravan – Gyspy Folk.

Thursday 25-27 APRIL

The series follows the extraordinary musical journey of the Romany, from Rajasthan to the British Isles, via the Near East, Spain and the Balkans, Caravan – Gypsy Folk celebrates the melancholy, passion and abandon of gypsy music, as well as the wealth of music inspired by it – across the centuries and across Europe – from Vivaldi and Telemann, via Bartok, Kodaly and Enescu, to the great works of Brahms and Rachmaninov; calling in at Django Reinhardt and Osvaldo Goliuov and more unusual repertoire on the way.

As ever there’s an impressive line-up, including Adrian Brendel, Maxim Rysanov and Alasdair Beatson amongst others familiar to OCMF and wider international audiences. They’ll be joined by Mercury -nominated folk song collector, Sam Lee who performs and gives a pre-concert talk, and by leading Gypsy folk band, DHOAD – Gypsies of Rajasthan. on a rare visit to the UK. Expect an intoxicating fusion of spontaneity, energy and alchemy that has become the hallmark of OCMF performances.