Eleven world-class musicians are on their way to Oswestry to give six concerts for Whittington’s seventh international chamber music festival which launches on May 21st. They come from France, Germany, Canada, Australia and the UK, all are soloists and recording artists, and four of them run prestigious music festivals of their own.
Canadian-American Maia Cabeza, born in Japan and of Argentinian heritage, has travelled the world with her 18th-century violin - including London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Berlin Philharmonie. She has recently become co-leader of the UK’s Aurora Orchestra which has achieved celebrity for performing whole symphonies from memory and is a favourite of the Albert Hall Proms.
Greg Lawson is a violinist of many parts. He has led most of his native Scotland’s orchestras at some time or another, but as a composer and performer he is also heavily involved with the “magnificent genre-bending world folk quintet Moishe’s Bagel”. His appearance at Whittington anticipates 2020’s boundary-breaking Folkclassical festival at which there will be as many world-class folk musicians as classical artists.
Other artists coming to Whittington in two weeks are Julian Arp (cello), Adrian Brendel (cello), Tim Crawford (violin), Robin Green (piano), Léa Hennino (viola), Francis Kefford (viola), Priya Mitchell (violin) and Sophia Rahman (piano).
“It promises to be our best festival yet”, says cellist and artistic director James Barralet. “The programme focusses on Dvorak and his fellow Czech composers, the wonderful music of Bohemia with its folky melodies, and we have assembled a truly outstanding ensemble to deliver it”.
The six concerts take place in Whittington church, and during the week the musicians will also be visiting schools and community groups. Ten young Shropshire musicians have been invited to rehearse a ten-minute piece with the professionals and then to perform it in the Friday concert.
Tickets are selling fast, with people coming from as far afield as London. They are available from Rowanthorn in Oswestry or direct from the festival website www.whittingtonmusicfestival.org.uk . Young people aged 8-25 are admitted to any concert free of charge.