TUESDAY 28th September 2021

Transfigured Love

7.30pm
SJE Arts

£30

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.

Beethoven
An die ferne Geliebte (14’)
Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake

Pärt
My Heart’s in the Highlands (8’)
Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake, Priya Mitchell, Johannes Marmen, Bryony Gibson-Cornish, Brian O’Kane

Schumann
Dichterliebe (30’)
Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake

 

WEDNESDAY 29th September


Mantra

7.30pm
SJE Arts

£30

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 are joined by the spectacular aerial artist Maia Ayling. Long-time collaborators Sukhwinder Singh (‘Pinky-Ji’) and Matthew Barley 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.

Adrian Freedman  
Shakuhachi Transcendence solo improvisation

Sultan Khan
Song of Separation and waiting

Indian Classical
Raag Bhairavi

MB + electronics
Improvisation using the 25″ Gol Gumbaz whispering gallery resonance from Bijapur India

Sukhwinder ‘Pinky-Ji’ Singh  Tabla Improvisation

Nicky Wells and Matthew Barley Songs from Holy Indian Scriptures

 

THURSDAY 30th September


Life Returns – A Transcendence of Pain

7.30pm
SJE Arts

£30

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.

Beethoven
Piano sonata No. 30, op 109 (23’)
Stephen Kovacevich

Debussy
Sonata for violin and piano, L. 148 (15’)
Stephen Kovacevich & Priya Mitchell

Beethoven
Piano sonata No. 31, op 110 (22’)
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 and A built around the performance.

 

FRIDAY 1st October


Beyond the Clouds

8pm
Christ Church Cathedral

£20

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.

Janacek
Lord Jesus Christ is Born  (2’)

Bloch
Jewish song ‘From Jewish Life’ (1924) (3’)

Pärt
Silouan’s Song (1991) (6’)

Bloch
Prayer (5’)

Fauré
Après un Rêve (5′)

Beatles
Across the Universe The Beatles Arr. J Marmen 1970 (4’)

Ravel
Kaddish (1914) (5’30)

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

 

SATURDAY 2nd October


A Mind Forever Voyaging

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.

Pärt
Da Pacem Domine (6’)

Beethoven
String Quartet in F major, Op. 18 no. 1, 2nd movement Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato (10’)

Pärt
Summa (6’)

Beethoven
String Quartet no. 9 in C major, Op. 59 no. 3, second  movement Andante con moto quasi allegretto (10’)

Fisher 
‘Heal’ (7’)

Beethoven
String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Opus 132, no. 3, third movement, ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’ (16’)

 

SATURDAY 2nd October


A Transcendental Meditation

7.45pm
Holywell Music Room
£20

Six different musical routes to free your mind from everyday concerns: Beethoven’s famous hypnotic, rtriplets, under a long-breathed melody as implacable as Moonlight; Arvo Pärt mirroring Beethoven’s ripples, entering a conversation across 180 years; Peteris 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.

Beethoven  
‘Moonlight’ Sonata, first movement

Pärt    
Spiegel im Spiegel

Vasks  
Meditation, from String quartet no.4

Casals
Song of the Birds 

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

Bach
Chaconne

Mitchell, Walther, Cassidy, O’Kane, Mommertz, Frochaux

 

SUNDAY 3rd October

A Galaxy of Tiny Worlds

4pm
SJE Arts

£20

At the end of his life, like Bach with his transcendent Goldberg variations, Beethoven wrote his own ultimate piano masterwork to rival the Goldbergs. Unlike Bach with his heartstopping Aria, Beethoven took on the challenge of turning the ridiculous into the sublime, transforming Diabelli’s trivial little waltz into a whole universe of wit, grace, rudeness, magnificence and even tragedy. See what I can do! – see what life can be!

Beethoven
33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120 (58’)
Imogen Cooper

 

SUNDAY 3rd October


Transcending Heights: A Universal Spirit

8pm
Sheldonian Theatre

£30

Arvo Pärt’s hypnotic Fratres started life as an evocation of monks in a cloister, slow and processional, so his later cello 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. The 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.

Beethoven  
String quintet in C major op. 29,  ‘The Storm’ (35’)
Priya Mitchell, Annette Walther, Meghan Cassidy, Tom Hankey,  Brian O’Kane

Part
Fratres (10’)

Beethoven
Triple Concerto  (37’)
Soloists: Nicolas Altstaedt, Priya Mitchell, Kristian Bezuidenhout

 

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