Cambridge Summer Music: the 40th fabulous festival


Cambridge Summer Music celebrates its 40th annual festival in 2018, and there’s plenty to be excited about. Originally a series of organ recitals, CSM 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.


The Festival opens on 5th July in King’s College Chapel with (appropriately) Mozart 40th Symphony, Fauré Requiem and Bernstein Chichester Psalms, performed by the Bach Choir and Orpheus Sinfonia under CSM’s new director David Hill. The theme of 40 continues on 12th July, 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 and director Christopher Monks show them how it’s really done. And on 13th July 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.


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 14th July) and the Gould piano trio, whose 10th July recital at Jesus College Chapel features an arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärt Nacht. 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 prize-winning flautist Rosie Bowker, pianist and organist Ben Comeau (who recently graduated from Cambridge with a starred first), dazzling young harpist Oliver Cope, 2017 Cardiff singer of the world Catriona Morison and Radio 3 New Generation artist Ashley Riches. Baritone Ashley will be joined by pianist Joseph Middleton at St John’s Old Divinity School on 8th July for his recital Songs before sleep, 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 10th July at 7.30pm.


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’ll be jazz from the singer, pianist and songwriter Joe Stilgoe; traditional fiddle music from the Scottish band Blazin’ Fiddles; and light Classical through to swing, jazz and pop from the saxophone/clarinet quartet Simply Reeds. In addition, the Festival once again features the popular Sounds Green series of open-air concerts in the Cambridge 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 (4th July); the exhilarating, gypsy-infused sounds of Eastern Europe (She’koyokh, 11th July); TG Collective’s heady mix of hot club, flamenco and contemporary classical (18th July); or the toe-tapping Jazz, Samba and Bossa Nova of Afro-Brazilian band Afrosamba (25th July).


Let the celebrations begin! We look forward to welcoming you.


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