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2021 Festival Programme

TUESDAY 28th September 2021

‘Transfigured Love’ Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake

7.30pm
SJE Arts

£30, free tickets for 8-25 year olds

Our Festival takes flight with two of the greatest song-cycles of all, separated by Arvo Pärt’s remarkable setting of Robbie Burns: so ‘simple’, yet haunting and unforgettable. Beethoven’s gentle, folk-like songs of longing for an absent lover flow one into the next, and end as they began, to form a ‘ring of song’ – the first song-cycle. The idea inspired countless composers, especially Schumann, whose The Poet’s Love (Dichterliebe) charts a love affair with the psychological insight of a great dramatist – and some of Schumann’s finest piano inspirations.

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Beethoven
Three Irische Lieder
O! who, my dear Dermot (Avenging and Bright)
The return to Ulster
Come draw we round a cheerful ring
Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake, Prima Mitchell, Brian O’Kane

Pärt
My Heart’s in the Highlands
Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake, Priya Mitchell, Johannes Marmen, Bryony Gibson-Cornish, Brian O’Kane

Schubert
Four Seidl Lieder
Sehnsucht
Im Freien
Der Wanderer an den Mond
Bei Dir Allein
Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake

Schumann
Dichterliebe
Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake

 

WEDNESDAY 29th September


Mantra

7.30pm
SJE Arts

£30, free tickets for 8-25 year olds

Sukhwinder ‘Pinky-Ji’ Singh tabla  / Matthew Barley cello / Adrian Freedman shakuhachi / Nicki Wells singer

A transcendental flight of the imagination around the world, in which great improvising musicians welcome singer Nicki Wells, with her amazing global array of vocal techniques and styles, and Adrian Freedman on the Japanese shakuhachi, to connect far-flung peoples and cultures, and celebrate our common humanity.

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Adrian Freedman
Seijaku

Freedman & Pinky-Ji
duet for Shakuhachi and tabla

Sultan Khan
Song of Separation and waiting for cello and tabla

Nicki Wells
3 songs from Holy Indian Scriptures for voice and cello

Barley
Improvisation on the echo from Gol Gumbaz, India

Pinky-Ji
Tabla solo ‘Transcendence’

Trad.
Shloka (Ancient Vedic Hymn in Sanskrit) in Bhairavi
Nicki Wells, Pinky-Ji, Matthew Barley, Adrian Freedman

 

THURSDAY 30th September


‘Life Returns – A Transcendence of Pain’ Stephen Kovacevich & Priya Mitchell

7.30pm
SJE Arts

£30, free tickets for 8-25 year olds

Even two hundred years on, Beethoven’s late piano sonatas are still unique portraits of the human spirit in all its facets: childlike, earthy, ecstatic, comical, suffering, and surviving, as at the end of op110. Stephen Kovacevich is one of their greatest interpreters. Between the two Beethoven sonatas, Debussy’s equally mercurial but very impressionistic sonata for violin, written during his long fatal illness, but which he rightly called ‘fantastic and light’ in its middle movement, and ‘full of joyous tumult’ in the finale.

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Beethoven
Piano sonata No. 30, op 109
Stephen Kovacevich

Debussy
Sonata for violin and piano
Stephen Kovacevich & Priya Mitchell

Beethoven
Piano sonata No. 31, op 110
Stephen Kovacevich

 

FRIDAY 1st October


‘Daily Revelations’: Emily Dickinson’s Everyday Transcendence

11am – 3pm with lunch break
Jacqueline du Pré building

£50 (limited places so early booking recommended)

Artists: Sally Bayley, Suzie Hanna, Hannah Sanders and Nicole Panizza

This workshop will encourage participants to create new ‘experimental readings’ of Emily Dickinson’s work by merging fragments of selected poems with lyrics from various songs found in her piano bench. Featured material will consist of textual fragments that exist in direct sympathy with and reference to Dickinson’s envelope poems featured in Bervin, Werner and Howe’s edited collection, The Gorgeous Nothings. This workshop will be followed by a c. 30 minute performance featuring musical performance and video projection: an exploration of the various ways in which live performance can develop and accommodate fragmented musical and visual motifs.

The day will end with a brief Q&A built around the performance.

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FRIDAY 1st October

Riding the Storm

1pm
Holywell Music Room

£15

Arvo Pärt’s hypnotic Fratres started life as an evocation of monks in a cloister, slow and processional, so his later violin version may come as a shock. Its explosive, pulsating opening paragraph puts the contemplative life into a startling new perspective. Beethoven’s remarkable ‘Storm’ Quintet invokes one of his heroes, Mozart, in the gorgeous slow movement; but elsewhere the brusque comedy and the thunder-and-lightning finale are 110% Beethoven.

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Pärt
Fratres
Hugo Ticciati, Dirk Mommertz

Beethoven
String Quintet in C ‘The Storm’
Priya Mitchell, Annette Walther, Meghan Cassidy, Bryony Gibson-Cornish, Brian O’Kane

 

FRIDAY 1st October


Beyond the Clouds

8pm
Christ Church Cathedral

£20, free tickets for 8-25 year olds

Here is music which attempts to reconcile different spiritual worldviews – from the Hebraic chants used by Ravel and Bloch, to the impassioned fervour of a Russian mystic in Silouan’s Song, the childlike simplicity of Janacek’s carol – and to build a bridge to an all-encompassing spirituality in the Beatles’ late, great song.  In memory of a dear friend of the festival who devoted much of his life to the study and dissemination of the Judeo-Christian tradition. His legacy of beautiful icons and poetry survives him, as will the memory of his tireless support and nourishment of musicians, music-making and all artistic endeavour.

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Janacek
Lord Jesus Christ is Born

Bloch
Jewish song ‘From Jewish Life’ (1924)

Pärt
Silouan’s Song (1991)

Bloch
Prayer

Fauré
Après un Rêve

Beatles
Across the Universe The Beatles Arr. J Marmen 1970

Ravel
Kaddish (1914)

Mitchell, Marmen, Hankey, Gore, Walther, Gibson-Cornish, Cassidy, O’Halloran, Frochaux, Carrasco-Hjelm, Hugo Ticciati

 

SATURDAY 2nd October


A Mind Forever Voyaging SOLD OUT

12pm
Holywell Music Room

£15

Marmen Quartet

This is the compelling story of the growth of a great mind, in three snapshots from Beethoven’s epoch-making series of string quartets. The young man’s passionate adagio, based on Romeo and Juliet, is overtaken just eight years later by a revolutionary genius leaving his contemporaries far behind, exploring the mysterious spaces between harmonies. Finally, the dying composer gives ‘Holy Thanksgiving’ for a reprieve from illness, in some of the most radiant and searching music ever written. Between these snapshots come two of Pärt’s serene miniatures, and a recent work by the fine young New Zealand composer Salina Fisher.

This is the compelling story of the growth of a great mind, in three snapshots from Beethoven’s epoch-making series of string quartets. The young man’s passionate adagio, based on Romeo and Juliet, is overtaken just eight years later by a revolutionary genius leaving his contemporaries far behind, exploring the mysterious spaces between the keys. Finally, the dying composer gives ‘Holy Thanksgiving’ for a reprieve from illness, in some of the most radiant and searching music ever written. Between these snapshots come two of Pärt’s serene miniatures, and a recent work by the fine young New Zealand composer Salina Fisher.

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Pärt
Da Pacem Domine

Beethoven
String Quartet in F major, Op. 18 no. 1, 2nd movement Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato

Pärt
Summa

Beethoven
String Quartet no. 9 in C major, Op. 59 no. 3, second  movement Andante con moto quasi allegretto

Fisher 
‘Heal’

Beethoven
String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Opus 132, no. 3, third movement, ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’

 

SATURDAY 2nd October

**NEW EVENT** Beethoven: Laura Tunbridge & Ruth Padel in conversation

4pm
Blackwell’s Bookshop
Free (registering required)

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Award-winning authors Laura Tunbridge and Ruth Padel discuss Beethoven and his life. OCMF is delighted to partner with Blackwell’s who are hosting this event.

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces by Laura Tunbridge
Beethoven Variations Poems on a Life by Ruth Padel

In Beethoven, Oxford professor Laura Tunbridge cuts through the noise. With each chapter focusing on a period of his life, piece of music and revealing theme – from family to friends, from heroism to liberty – she provides a rich insight into the man and the music. From the author of the bestselling Darwin: A Life in Poems, Ruth Padel’s new collection follows in the footsteps of one of the world’s greatest composers, Beethoven, and investigates what his life and music might mean to us today. The event will be chaired by Graham Topping.

 

SATURDAY 2nd October


A Transcendental Meditation SOLD OUT

8pm
Holywell Music Room
£20

Six different musical routes to free your mind from everyday concerns: Beethoven’s famous hypnotic, triplets, under a long-breathed melody as implacable as Moonlight; Arvo Pärt mirroring Beethoven’s ripples, entering a conversation across 180 years; Pēteris Vasks reaching towards heaven, falling, but reaching again; Pablo Casals communing with nature; Olivier Messiaen’s ecstatic contemplation of the ‘end of time’; and Johann Sebastian Bach’s unsurpassable masterpiece, orbiting ever-wider from its repeating bassline, to an overwhelming revelation.

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Beethoven  
‘Moonlight’ Sonata, first movement

Pärt    
Spiegel im Spiegel

Vasks  
Meditation, from String quartet no.4

Casals
Song of the Birds 

Pärt
The healing of Arinuschka 

Messiaen  
Louange à l’eternité de Jesus, from the Quartet for the end of time

Bach
Chaconne

Hugo Ticciati, Priya Mitchell, Annette Walther, Tom Hankey, Brian O’Kane, Dirk Mommertz, Claude Frochaux

 

SUNDAY 3rd October

Galaxy of Tiny Worlds

4pm
SJE Arts

£20, free tickets for 8-25 year olds

Alongside Imogen Cooper‘s performance of Beethoven‘s ultimate piano masterwork, Ruth Padel reads from her own extraordinary cycle of poems charting Beethoven‘s troubled life and transcendent music, Beethoven Variations – ‘her imagery and imagination took me deeper into Beethoven than many biographies I‘ve read..‘ (New York Times) At the end of his life, Beethoven set out to match Bach‘s finest keyboard achievement in his Goldberg variations. Unlike Bach with his heartstopping Aria, Beethoven took on the challenge of turning the ridiculous into the sublime, transforming a trivial little waltz by Diabelli into a whole universe of wit, grace, rudeness, innocence, magnificence, and even tragedy. See what I can do! – he seems to be saying – see what life can be!

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Beethoven
33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120
Imogen Cooper

 

SUNDAY 3rd October


‘Transcending Heights: A Universal Spirit’
Adrian Brendel, Hyung-ki Joo, Hugo Ticciati & Priya Mitchell

8pm
Sheldonian Theatre

£30, free tickets for 8-25 year olds

Pärt’s works have been described as ‘a declaration of silence‘ and as ‘a manifesto for concentrating only on the most important things‘. Beethoven‘s Triple concerto requires three great soloists, so it is rarely played – but for a Festival like this, with its community of artists, it‘s a treat for players and audience alike, and a fitting climax to our week.

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Pärt
Fratres for violin, string orchestra and percussion
Soloist: Hugo Ticciati

Beethoven
Triple Concerto
Soloists: Adrian Brendel, Priya Mitchell, Hyung-ki Joo

 

Please note Adrian Brendel and Hyung-ki Joo replace Kristian Bezuidenhout and Nicolas Altstaedt as previously advertised for this performance.

 

MONDAY 4th October

OCMF Schools Concert in collaboration with D’Overbroecks School, including the performance of the winning piece of the OCMF Composition Competition 2021. Invitation only, but school groups please apply to our Education Director Jackie Holderness for places by e-mailing Jackie.holderness@ocmf.net