The definitive guide to Cambridge Summer Music Festival 2018
The Cambridge Independent is proud to be media partner for the festival in its 40th anniversary year
Cambridge Summer Music celebrates its 40th annual festival in 2018, and there’s plenty to be excited about.
Originally a series of organ recitals, the festival has developed into a packed fortnight of superb classical, jazz and world music in some of the world’s most beautiful performance spaces – delighting more than 15,000 local, national and international concertgoers each year.
Once again, the Cambridge Independent is proud to support the festival, and is bringing readers exclusive interviews, competitions and all the details they need to make the most of the summer of sounds.
The festival opens on July 5 in King’s College Chapel with (appropriately) Mozart’s 40th Symphony, Fauré’s Requiem and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, performed by The Bach Choir and Orpheus Sinfonia under CSM’s new director David Hill.
The theme of 40 continues on July 12, when the Victorian Gothic interior of Our Lady and the English Martyrs will resound to Tallis’ mighty 40-part motet Spem in Alium and the Mass in 60 parts by Striggio.
The audience will also have the chance to try singing the Tallis themselves, in a ‘come and sing’ open rehearsal earlier the same evening, before the Armonico Consort – joined by the choir of Gonville and Caius College – and director Christopher Monks show them how it’s really done.
And on July 13 the Brodsky Quartet presents Wheel of 4Tunes, a famously adventurous concert format devised to celebrate their own 40th anniversary, which produces a different programme of four quartets every time, chosen by the spin of a wheel.
Other established names coming to the festival this year include pianist Joanna Macgregor (who will play Beethoven and Chopin at West Road Concert Hall on July 14), trumpeter Crispian Steel-Perkins accompanied by organist and festival director David Hill, in a programme of 17th and 18th-century classics at Queens’ College Chapel on July 19, and the Gould Piano Trio, whose July 10 recital at Jesus College Chapel features an arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht.
David said: “With such great soloists, chamber musicians, orchestras, jazz musicians, top-flight singers and lots more this testival is surely guaranteed to provide a feast of music and entertainment.”
However, the festival has always been committed to giving a platform to new talent, and alongside these well-known artists there will be the chance to hear rising stars such as 2017 Cardiff Singer of the World Catriona Morison (St John’s Old Divinity School, July 16) and Radio 3 New Generation artist Ashley Riches (July 8).
Bass-baritone Ashley will be joined by pianist Joseph Middleton for his recital, Songs before sleep, also at the Divinity School, to include the world premiere of a new work by composer Kate Whitley, co-commissioned with the BBC and the Royal Philharmonic Society. This concert will be recorded by BBC Radio 3 and broadcast on July 10 at 7.30pm.
This year’s lunchtime concerts also have a strong focus on emerging talent, such as pianist and organist Ben Comeau (July 8) who recently graduated from Cambridge with a starred first; dazzling young harpist Oliver Cope (July 15); cellist Joy Lisney – hailed as ‘the new Jacqueline Du Pré’ – whose programme on July 15 includes one of her own compositions; and prize-winning flautist Rosie Bowker (July 18).
The festival’s lunchtime concerts are ideal for people working in the city.
Held in central locations, they start at 1.10pm and most are free entry, with a retiring collection.
In addition to supporting new artists and new music, CSM has always made room for less familiar and less formal music.
Among the huge range of sounds and styles to sample there will be traditional fiddle music from the Scottish band Blazin’ Fiddles (July 7); jazz from the singer, pianist and songwriter Joe Stilgoe (July 20); and light classical through to swing, jazz and pop from the saxophone/clarinet quartet Simply Reeds (July 21).
Film buffs will be excited to know that on July 11, St John’s College Chapel is the unusual setting for a screening of the silent movie The General (1926), a hair-raising comedy classic starring Buster Keaton, playing a southern railway engineer pursuing his locomotive and his girl across the prairies during the American Civil War – brought to life by organist Richard Hills, improvising in real time with brilliant virtuosity.
There’ll also be informal music out in the open air, as once again the festival features its popular Sounds Green series of concerts in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.
Now that the sun is finally shining, it’s easy to imagine the scene – relaxing under the trees on a Wednesday evening after a busy day, with a cool drink and a delicious picnic, listening to the hugely popular Cambridge-based band Prime Brass (July 4); the exhilarating, gypsy-infused sounds of Eastern Europe (She’Koyokh, July 11); TG Collective’s heady mix of hot club, flamenco and contemporary classical (July 18); or the toe-tapping jazz, samba and bossa nova of Afro-Brazilian band Afrosamba (July 25).
If you can’t wait until it all begins, there are some pre-festival events to keep you going.
These began on June 23, when the Schubert Ensemble returned to Cambridge for their 35th and farewell season.
To mark the close of a long and hugely successful musical partnership, they chose a programme of Vaughan Williams, Dvorák and Judith Weir, whose reimagining of Schubert’s song Abschied is a tender ‘goodbye’ from a composer who has collaborated regularly with the ensemble.
On July 2, the master of Pembroke College and former Culture Secretary Chris Smith will reflect on the past 20 years of arts achievement and policy in Britain, and the challenges and issues that lie ahead.
Finally, in case festival withdrawal sets in, there is a wonderful concert of Mozart ballet music from Idomeneo paired with Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto and 9th Symphony (the latter played from memory) on August 4, in Saffron Walden. Performed by the Aurora Orchestra and soloist Denis Kozhukhin, the evening will be presented by the orchestra’s director Nicholas Collon with Radio 3’s Tom Service, who will explore the orchestra’s hallmark approach of playing without music – a direct performance style that creates a deep understanding of the score and a unique bond with the audience.
How to book
Tickets are also available at Cambridge Live Tickets, Wheeler Street, Cambridge.
Want to be a friend of the festival? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form – subscriptions start at £60 and offer reserved seats and other benefits.
The programme in full
• June 23, 7.30pm - Schubert Ensemble Farewell Concert, Fitzwilliam Auditorium
• July 2, 6pm -Lord Smith: The State of the Arts, Pembroke College
• July 4, 6.15pm - Sounds Green: Prime Brass, Botanic Garden
• July 5, 8pm - Festival Opening: Mozart & Fauré, King’s College Chapel
• July 6, 7.30pm - Patrick Hemmerlé: Chopin and Debussy, Robinson College Chapel
• July 7, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Cambridge Voices Reinvented, All Saints’ Church
• July 7, 7.30pm - Blazin’ Fiddles, Cambridge Junction
• July 8, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Ben Comeau – piano, Robinson College Chapel
• July 8, 7.30pm - Songs before Sleep: Ashley Riches & Joseph Middleton, The Old Divinity School
• July 9, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Karolos, EU Reformed Church
• July 9, 7.30pm - Septura: Kleptomania – Song Swag, West Road Concert Hall
• July 10, 7.30pm - Gould Piano Trio, Jesus College Chapel
• July 11, 6.15pm - Sounds Green: She’Koyokh, Botanic Garden
• July 11, 9pm - Silent Movie: ‘The General’ with live organ improvisation, St John’s College Chapel
• July 12, 6.30pm - Armonico Consort: Come and Sing, St Paul’s Church
• July 12, 8pm - Armonico Consort: Supersize Polyphony, OLEM Catholic Church
• July 13, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Harriet Mackenzie & Graham Walker, Clare College Chapel
• July 13, 7.30pm - Brodsky Quartet: Wheel of 4Tunes, Jesus College Chapel
• July 14, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Lucy Taylor & Jeremy Thurlow, Corpus Christi Chapel
• July 14, 7.30pm - Joanna MacGregor, West Road Concert Hall
• July 15, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Oliver Cope – harp, Clare College Chapel
• July 15, 8.30pm - Joy Lisney – cello, Memorial Building, American Cemetery
• July 16, 7.30pm - Catriona Morison & Joseph Middleton, Old Divinity School
• July 17, 7.30pm - Daniel Cainer: Gefilte Fish & Chips, Unitarian Church
• July 18, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Flute and Piano, Sidney Sussex College
• July 18, 6.15pm - Sounds Green: TG Collective, Botanic Garden
• July 19, 7.30pm - The Trumpet Shall Sound, Queens’ College Chapel
• July 20, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Jonathan Ryan – organ, Queens’ College Chapel
• July 20, 7.30pm - Joe Stilgoe: Singer, pianist, songwriter, Downing College
• July 21, 1.10pm - Lunchtime: Simply Reeds, St Columba’s Church
• July 21, 7.30pm - English Voices: Bach Mass in B minor, West Road Concert Hall
• July 25, 6.15pm - Sounds Green: Afrosamba, Botanic Garden
• Aug 4, 7.30pm - Aurora Orchestra: Shostakovich, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden