Small but perfect music festival brings classical stars to Highgate

Isata-Kanneh-Mason plays the Highgate International Chamber Music Festival in December

Isata-Kanneh-Mason plays the Highgate International Chamber Music Festival in December - Credit: Robin Clewley

It's billed as an 'international music festival' and Highgate's small but perfectly formed three day event brings world class classical musicians to Highgate.

The Highgate International Chamber Music Festival was founded by local musicians Ashok and Natalie Klouda and Irina Botan in 2012. After a year's break, it's back from December 3-5 with six intimate performances at St Anne's in Highgate West Hill.

"It all started when Natalie and I moved to Highgate and were neighbours of Irina," says Ashok.

"We realised there was such a musical community in this part of town, a huge number of professional and amateur musicians, and lovers of culture and felt it was the perfect place to start a festival."

"There were so many summer festivals we felt a winter Christmassy one was a good idea."

This year, the Kloudas and Botan will be joined by Alina Ibragimova, Julian Bliss, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Nicholas Daniel, Robert Cohen, Alec Frank-Gemmill, and Wu Qian for a programme that explores both masterworks and lesser known gems.

Robert Cohen

Robert Cohen - Credit: Supplied

"Like many organisations we were sadly unable to hold live events in 2020 and are thrilled to be bringing live music back to Highgate this year, with an extraordinary group of artists performing this highly varied programme," he said.

Ashok Klouda

Ashok Klouda who co-founded the annual Highgate International Chamber Music Festival - Credit: Veronika Kotkova

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"The pandemic has been a difficult time for musicians across the planet but it's reminded us how much we love playing to a live audience."

With its "intimate feel, good sight lines and clear acoustic St Anne's is a good setting for chamber music". And with spaced out seating, playing with no interval or refreshments, they hope to make events Covid safe.

The programme includes "a concert devoted to composers of Jewish birth who are perhaps less well known but have written incredible music like Weinberg and Fanny Mendelssohn."

Alongside Mozart's Clarinet Quintet and Prokofiev's flute sonata arranged for oboe, cello and piano and performed by Daniel, Ashok and Kanneh-Mason, there are less performed composers on the bill include Bliss playing Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's clarinet quintet, and a piece by Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga - "a short beautiful piece from a masterful composer who deserves more attention."

The festival finale on December 5 is Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No.2 in B flat. 

"Mendelssohn is so uplifting, everyone could do with that at the moment."

Wu Qian plays St Anne's Church in Highgate as part of the festival

Wu Qian plays St Anne's Church in Highgate as part of the festival - Credit: Supplied

Children under 16 go free, for the full programme visit

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