I was lucky enough to get to the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, Australia, one of our global co-commissioning partners. Pianist and Artistic Director Piers Lane (resident in Putney when not travelling the world) assembled a world-class list of performers, with baritone Roderick Williams, violinist Tasmin Little, and the Goldner Quartet as the Artists-in-Residence.
I was also able to attend the world premier of a new production by Dance North of the WIMF co-commissioned work ‘The Three Dancers’.
Waiting in my pile of mail was a most pleasing review of our 2015 festival in the magazine ‘Musical Opinion’.
“Wimbledon International Music Festival has truly reached international standing with a programme to rival the Wigmore Hall.”
Also most welcome has been the reaction of the Wigmore’s own distinguished Director,
John Gilhooly, who responded to this year’s brochure:
“What a great Festival.” - adding: “the Festival continues to go from strength to strength and its extraordinary international roster of featured artists and ensembles is a huge tribute to all concerned. Long may it continue to bring the highest quality to Wimbledon.”
Even more pleasing is that ticket sales continue to be satisfyingly ahead of our ‘record’ year last year.
Whilst there isn’t a single event that I am not excited to present, my deep love of Bach highlights ‘The Christmas Oratorio’ (26 Nov), Raphael Wallfisch performing the complete Cello Suites (20 Nov) and perhaps most of all Christian Tetzlaff (23 Nov) with a programme combining two wonderful solo violin works of Bach (including the chaconne, and the most impressive of his fugues) with Bartok’s magnificent Sonata for Solo Violin, one of the 20th century’s true instrumental masterpieces, and a cornerstone of the violin repertoire.
The sonata was commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin in 1944, while Bartok was ill in New York. When he received it Menuhin was alarmed, considering it so difficult, so full of double-stopping, as to be unplayable. But as he came to terms with it, he found it
“beautifully composed for the violin, one of the
most dramatic and fulfilling works that I know of, the most important composition for violin alone since Bach."
In the hands of the distinguished German virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff, I am anticipating an evening to remember.
Wimbledon has a newly formed professional choir founded by Neil Ferris, conductor of the Wimbledon Choral Society, and Michael Higgins, Music Director at St. John’s, Spencer Hill.
I was so impressed by their thrilling rich sound that I have engaged them for this year’s opening concert, 'African Sanctus' at Sacred Heart (12 Nov).
You can hear them before then, on Thursday 22 September at 8pm, performing Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil ‘Vespers'.
Anthony Wilkinson, Festival Director