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Line-up of world artists ready for Spitalfields Music Festival going digital to beat Covid ban on live audiences

PUBLISHED: 17:00 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 20:40 22 October 2020

Dunedin Consort performing Requiem Aeternam at Glasgow's University Chapel in 2019. Picture: Andy Catlin.

Dunedin Consort performing Requiem Aeternam at Glasgow's University Chapel in 2019. Picture: Andy Catlin.

Andy Catlin

The Covid emergency has hit this year’s Spitalfields Music Festival with a ban on audiences for live venue performances.

Dunedin Consort's Requiem Aeternam sung at University Chapel in Glasgow last year. Picture: Andy Catlin.Dunedin Consort's Requiem Aeternam sung at University Chapel in Glasgow last year. Picture: Andy Catlin.

But the festival is going ahead anyway—with performances on line rather than in front of audiences, recorded in Hawksmoor’s historic Spitalfields Christ Church where it originated 44 years ago.

Organisers today have revealed details of works being staged “as live” in front of the camera which are being streamed on December 5 , where this year women composers take centre stage.

“Music has become ever more important in 2020,” Spitalfields Music’s chief executive Sarah Gee said.

Miller-Porfiris Duo... new works by women composrs Victoria Benito, Joy Effiong, Bobbie-Jane Gardner, Millicent James, Sarah Rodgers, Jasmin Rodgman, Susannah Self and Heloise Werner. Picture: SMFMiller-Porfiris Duo... new works by women composrs Victoria Benito, Joy Effiong, Bobbie-Jane Gardner, Millicent James, Sarah Rodgers, Jasmin Rodgman, Susannah Self and Heloise Werner. Picture: SMF

“We want to highlight the diversity in the music world and shine on some lesser-known pieces alongside new works by women, in shaping this special online edition of the festival.

“The government’s support through the Culture Recovery Fund has enabled us to work with more musicians and composers, with more projects and events to come next year.”

The annual winter festival has been “re-imagined” as a series of digital events being broadcast on the Spitalfields Music website on December 5 from 3pm to 10pm.

Historian SI Martin... re-imagined virtual tour of East London featuring Amanda Aldridge’'s Three Arabian Dances, with black historic ties to Spitalfields back 500 years. Picture: SMFHistorian SI Martin... re-imagined virtual tour of East London featuring Amanda Aldridge’'s Three Arabian Dances, with black historic ties to Spitalfields back 500 years. Picture: SMF

It is being recorded “as live” during these unprecedented circumstances, using state-of-the-art filming techniques, which this year puts women composers front and centre with world premieres, singer-songwriters and early choral music sitting side by side.

Programme highlights include the Dunedin Consort Baroque ensemble’s Lagrime mie: Songs of Prayer and Solitude, recorded at Christ Church, featuring sublime works by early composers such as Schutz, Monteverdi and his assistant at St Mark’s in Venice Alessandro Grandi. Also, works by women composers Barbara Strozzi and Francesca Caccini.

Eight short commissions by contemporary women composers receive their world premieres performed by the Miller-Porfiris Duo and Siwan Rhys, featuring new works by Victoria Benito, Joy Effiong, Bobbie-Jane Gardner, Millicent James, Sarah Rodgers, Jasmin Rodgman, Susannah Self and Heloise Werner. They are performed alongside Errollyn Wallen’s Five Postcards.

Line-up of Dunedin Consort for Spitalfields Music Festival going on line this year. Picture: Andy Catlin.Line-up of Dunedin Consort for Spitalfields Music Festival going on line this year. Picture: Andy Catlin.

Author and historian SI Martin, a specialist in black British history, has joined with the Chineke Junior Orchestra to re-imagine a walking tour of East London featuring the first-ever recording and broadcast of composer Amanda Aldridge’s Three Arabian Dances. Each stop on this virtual tour is accompanied by a different performance of music with black historic ties to the Spitalfields area going back 500 years.

Completing the festival line-up is a curated songwriting showcase lead by Errollyn Wallen and Katie Melua who are joined by video by singer-songwriter friends with their original songs.

Tickets have gone on sale today on Spitalfields Music Festival at Home website.


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