International Wimbledon Music Festival 2011

Melanie Spanswick


The South West London suburb of Wimbledon is normally synonymous with tennis, cream teas and The Wombles. During November, however, it becomes host to The 2011 International Wimbledon Music Festival. The Festival runs from 12th – 27th November and consists of twenty ‘world-class’ events. It began in 2009 as a way to offer SW19 the opportunity to enjoy some high quality performances whilst celebrating the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia (St Cecilia’s Day is on November 22nd).

As a charity Wimbledon Music Festival also runs a programme of educational activities in the community coinciding with the main festival events. There is a special ‘Performance Day’ on 22nd November involving more than 4000 performers from 65 schools across the Borough. The Festival is a not-for-profit organisation and the main objective is ‘to advance, improve, develop and maintain public education’.

There is a healthy mix of classical, jazz and folk music and the calibre of performers should certainly entice regular concert goers. Some of the highlights include appearances by the Brodsky Quartet, French jazz pianist Claude Bolling together with Lebanese flautist Wissam Boustany, harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock, clarinettist Michael Collins with the London Winds, and the London Schubert Players.

On St. Cecilia’s Day the celebrated recorder player, Piers Adams, gives a lunchtime recital. J.S Bach’s glorious B minor Mass opens the festival and features singers Nancy Argenta, Michael Chance, Allan Clayton, Roderick Williams, and conductor Andrew Edwards. A concert performance of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde with David Wilson and Catherine Wyn-Rogers takes place on November 21st and 22nd (celebrating St. Cecilia’s Day). If you enjoy Klezmer, Gypsy and Balkan music then ‘Kosmos’ and ‘Juice’ should appeal; a string trio and a vocal trio combine their talents on November 24th.

I am looking forward to performances by celebrated Russian pianist Mikhail Rudy who features Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (complete with artist Kandinsky’s annotations) and 2006 Leeds International Piano Competition Winner, Sunwook Kim, who tackles Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas. Pianist Joanna MacGregor joins forces with Ensemble Bash on November 13th in an evening concert which includes music by John Cage, Keith Tippett, and Egberto Gismonti. Ensemble Bash feature in an afternoon family concert also on November 13th and pupils of the Yehudi Menhuin School give a lunchtime recital on November 25th.

Concert venues include St John the Baptist Church, Spencer’s Hill; Trinity Church, Mansel Road; The Wimbledon Synagogue, and The Chapel at Wimbledon College. There is something for everyone at this musical feast and if you fancy coming along you can book your tickets here www.wimbledonmusicfestival.co.uk.