Praise for CSM’s virtual Festival

Cambridge Critique describes how Cambridge arts scene “rises to the challenge”:

A recent editorial in The Times praised the world of creative arts in the way that many have responded to GLD (the Great Lock Down). The arts scene in Cambridge has certainly risen to an unprecedented challenge. With physical theatres, galleries and concert halls darkened, it is heartening to see some (but not all) of our local arts venues rising to the challenge of our digital age.

Take first the sterling offer just launched by the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. It has had to cancel this July’s great harmonious bean feast in what would have been their 42nd event.  Thirty concerts due to take place across the city, presenting a line up of world-class performers including Tasmin Little which was going to be one of her last appearances, local personality Guy Johnston, national treasure poet Roger McGough, and the much-loved Evelyn Glennie celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.  All that is now in the deep freezer, the virus is no music lover, but all is far from lost. The good folk are working on creating a Virtual Festival providing links to online performances we can enjoy at home. And it is all there for free.

Already online is an excerpt from the 2019 performance of the St John’s Passion which drew so much praise at the time. English Voices can be seen and heard performing ‘Ach Herr, lass dein Engelein’ on the stage at the sorely missed (at least by me) West Road Concert Hall. This being Beethoven’s big 250th, the Summer Music Fest also offers a stunning performance of his Piano Sonata in A flat, Opus 110 played by Leon McCawley. This was recorded at the Wigmore Hall and it is worth every one of the 20 minutes filmed.

Other great video clips include guitarist Manus Noble playing an exciting new piece by Gary Ryan, ‘Out of Clonmel’. It is beautifully filmed, the sound quality perfect and the lovely piece memorable. Start your lockdown day with this – it is a real tonic. It has the energy of ‘Classical Gas’ with the same ability to earworm into your brain. Be warned.

I was also delighted to see on offer local music heroes Prime Brass playing an amazing arrangement of La Vie on Rose, Piaf’s signature anthem. The band recorded each of their parts separately in their gardens, living rooms, kitchens and maybe even the odd bathroom or two. It was then cleverly put together to create a terrific ensemble sound that we have come to know and love. Though we won’t see them at the Botanic Garden this year, there is no taking the wind out of these brassy guys.

Take a look and a listen and no doubt the Summer Festival will be offering more tasty musical morsels.

Cambridge Critique April 17, 2020