When the winter months close in and bring with them rain, wind, chapped lips and generally all of the unsavory things about this time of year, it can be tempting to simply stay indoors and buckle down the shutters until Christmas.
But before you disappear indoors be sure to catch the Wimbledon International Music Festival, which will be taking place in various venues across the area. This time it’s not tennis, but a beautiful, ethereal variety of performances that will be taking centre stage – and attracting the great and the good from all corners of the world. The festival is popular due to its idyllic rural surroundings and the amazing churches in which the most talented artists in the world will perform their pieces.
Take St John the Baptist Church for example. A fine building by Sir T G Jackson, St John’s is a top centre of music in Wimbledon and well known for its fine acoustics. As well as this, there’s St Mary’s Merton Church: a Grade II listed building dating from the 14th century. There’s been a church on this site since before the Domesday Book believe it or not – and famous people such as Lord Nelson and Captain Cook have also been associated with this.
These are just two of the venues where some outstanding recitals will take place. Read on below for our pick of five performances to really watch out for this year:
‘The Soldier’s Tale’
This is set to be the centre-piece of this year’s Festival and will be an original production of Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece. This time it has a twist though: it’s a contemporary version of ‘Soldier’s Tale’ set as a computer game, believe it or not, with a parachute drop in, projections and a smart phone. The ensemble has been supported by a grant from Arts Council England WIMF and is fully costumed, with seven dancers and a narrator. The performance is supported by an array of exceptionally talented musicians from the major orchestras – apart from perhaps the finest clarinettist in the world: Michael Collins.
Dates: Sun 9 Nov 4pm and 7.30pm
Venue: The Theatre of the Wimbledon College of Art, Merton Hall Road SW19 3QA.
Death by Custard
This bizarrely-titled performance focuses on ballads of death, horror and gore – and is inspired by the 16th and 17th century English ballad-mongers (sellers of stories) whom documented the latest sensational tales on penny broadsheets (similar to the tabloids of today).
Readers used to experience shocking and gory details of land and sea battles, hangings and murders, along with disasters such as the Great Plague, the Gunpowder Plot and the Great Fire of London. The title ‘Death by Custard’ comes from when a wager went badly wrong.
Some of the stories performed by Musicians of the World, have interesting names such as: “Cuckolds All Awry”, “The wooing of the Baker’s Daughter” and “The Queen’s Dumpe”. Make sure you don’t miss out on this hilarious and intriguing performance.
Dates: Wed 19 Nov 7.45pm
Venue: Trinity Church, Mansel Road SW19 4AA (TBC)
Tickets: £28/ £23/ £16
After the sell-out successes at the Orange Tree, 2012 and 2013; author Jessica Duchen is back. The topic of her acclaimed novel: “Alicia’s Gift” has fascinated music-lovers. The story is about piano prodigy Alicia and her parents over the years from aged three, to her participation in the Leeds International Piano Competition. The author and pianist Viv McLean bring extracts from the book to life, with works by Chopin and Ravel.
Date: Sun 23 Nov 2.30pm
Address: Rutherford Centre, Wimbledon High School, Mansel Road SW19 4AB
Talented Austrian baritone Wolfgang Holzmair is a distinguished performer of German arts song and in high demand. Sholto Kynoch is Festival Director of the Oxford Lieder Festival and his piano performance supporters Holzmair in what is the finest of all Schubert’s song cycles.
Date: Mon 17 Nov 7.45pm
Address: St John’s Church, Spencer Hill SW19 4NZ
Tickets: £28/ £23/ £16
Mozart and Beethoven Masterpieces for Wind Octet
A beautiful combination of virtuoso players, London Winds’ performances are well known for their technical brilliance and joie de vivre. Founded in 1988 by the British clarinettist, Michael Collins, who we mentioned earlier; the group is a highly prominent chamber ensemble.
Date: Fri 14 Nov 8pm
Address: Trinity Church, Mansel Road SW19 4AA
Tickets: £28/ £23/ £16
The perfect interlude between Summer and Christmas, the Wimbledon International Music Festival provides an opportunity for you to experience some of the best artists in the world. Whether you go along ‘en famille’ or alone or with some friends; this is a great chance to expand your knowledge of classical music – both traditional and contemporary.
Image credit: Wimbledon Music Festival