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Hampstead and Highgate Springfest launched

PUBLISHED: 11:57 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:04 07 September 2010

Bridget Galton A RARELY performed Benjamin Britten opera and a rendition of Faure s requiem by Highgate Choral Society are among the highlights of this year s Hampstead and Highgate Festival. Launching the week-long Springfest programme at the Freemasons

Bridget Galton

A RARELY performed Benjamin Britten opera and a rendition of Faure's requiem by Highgate Choral Society are among the highlights of this year's Hampstead and Highgate Festival.

Launching the week-long Springfest programme at the Freemasons Arms in Downshire Hill on Monday, festival director George Vass admitted that the number of events had been scaled down due to the recession.

But he said that they had not been reduced in ambition.

"Like everyone else, we have been affected by the economic downturn," he said.

"Finances are tight and it's been necessary to cut back our programme.

"But it's still important to have high quality events and I believe we have a strong, vibrant selection of music and literature," he said.

The line-up includes two performances of Britten's Curlew River, inspired by Japanese Noh Theatre, staged at the newly refurbished St Stephen's Church in Rosslyn Hill on May 10.

"It's a huge undertaking and hasn't been done in London for a decade," said Mr Vass.

"It is a masterpiece about a mother - played by a tenor as per Japanese tradition - in search of her lost child.

"It was composed for a church and it will work very well at St Stephen's which has such natural beauty."

A new commission - a viola concerto by Highgate composer Paul Patterson - will premiere at the closing concert at St Stephen's on May 13.

And the Highgate Choral Society, accompanied by Ronald Corp on the organ, will perform at St Michael's in Highgate on May 9.

Broadcaster Piers Plowright has organised a series of literary talks, including novelist Margaret Drabble on May 7 at the Magdala Tavern in South Hill Park.

She will discuss her latest book, The Pattern In The Carpet.

According to Mr Plowright, it is "partly a family memoir and partly about jigsaw puzzles - she weaves the two together so the book is like a puzzle".

"It's a kind of autobiography that emerges through the game the family played," he said.

Hampstead author Kate Summerscale will also be at the Magdala to talk about her bestselling true crime book The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher.

And rock biographer Philip Norman, who lives in Hampstead, will discuss what it's like to write about the lives of Elton John and John Lennon.

For bookings, call 0871 5943132.


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