AUTUMN IN MALVERN

                                                          By Christopher Morley

 

This year’s Autumn in Malvern Festival is already well underway, having begun on September 23 with Bach’s The Art of Fugue, introduced and performed by Iain Simcock on harpsichord and organ.

The next musical event has a decidedly Swedish flavour, bringing the Nicolai Chamber Choir, closely associated with Stockholm’s St Nicolai Cathedral, presenting “A Garland of Choral Music” in tribute to the great 19th-century soprano Jenny Lind, “the Swedish nightingale”, who retired to Wynds Point close to the Herefordshire Beacon just outside Malvern (September 29, Great Malvern Priory 1pm).

Described by Musical Opinion magazine as “Britain’s greatest living composer of art song”, Worcester’s Ian Venables provides the focus for tenor Nick Pritchard’s “Ivor Gurney to Ian Venables – a journey through English song” at Christchurch, Great Malvern on October 7 (7.30pm). The journey begins with Ivor Gurney, the Gloucestershire poet and composer whose life was shattered by trauma and injury sustained during the First World War. Songs by Rebecca Clarke, Britten and Finzi lead us to Venables himself. Who also introduces the programme together with Nick Pritchard. Simon Lepper is the pianist.

Elmslie House in Great Malvern is the venue for the Worcestershire Saxophone Quartet playing “Three 20th-century Saxophone Quartets”, among which is that by John Rushby-Smith, a major figure in BBC Radio 3 before he retired to Ledbury (4pm, tea and cakes available from 3.15pm).

One of Autumn in Malvern’s best-loved fixtures is the annual concert from the Aldwyn Consort of Voices, who this year present a programme marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Byrd. Works on offer range from those of Byrd and his contemporaries right up to the present day, with Roxanna Panufnik and James MacMillan. The musical performances are complemented with poetry readings delivered by Peter Sutton (Great Hall, Malvern College 3pm).

This year’s Autumn in Malvern festival concludes with another well-loved annual visit, that by the European Union Chamber Orchestra, performing in Malvern College’s Great Hall on October 29 (3pm). Their programme this year begins with Barshai’s string orchestra transcriptions of Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives, continues through Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major K414 (soloist Yuzhang Li) and two string pieces from Walton’s incidental music for the film Henry V, and ends with Tchaikovsky’s ineffable Serenade for Strings.

There are of course the usual exhibitions, talks and walks providing the tapestry of Autumn in Malvern. All details on 01684 892277.

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