Highgate International Chamber Music Festival

Amy Harman

Amy Harman - Credit: Archant

Royal wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, newsreader John Suchet, and clarinettist Julian Bliss are among the top names playing intimate concerts in Highgate churches

Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Credit: Archant

Royal wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, newsreader John Suchet, and clarinettist Julian Bliss headline this year's Highgate International Chamber Music Festival under the theme of 'Beethoven 249'.

The anniversary of the German composer's birth means his work dominates the festival programme which runs alongside a young artists scheme to develop emerging ensembles into rounded musicians.

The event was founded in 2012 by local musicians Ashok and Natalie Klouda, and Irina Botan who bring together outstanding chamber musicians from around the world for a week of music making in North London.

Running from November 23 to 30 at St Anne's and St Michael's Churches in Highgate, festival highlights include Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata arranged for string quintet, and much-loved string quintet in C major performed by Alexander Sitkovetsky, Natalie Klouda, Laurence Power, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Ashok Klouda on November 23.

Julian Bliss performs Beethoven's clarinet trio and Dohnányi's sextet with Benjamin Gilmore, Robert Cohen, Simon Callaghan and James Pillai on November 26. And Classic FM presenter John Suchet provides introductions to Beethoven's piano trio No.3 and string quartet No.11 in F minor, 'Serioso' and Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence on November 28.

A performance of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Nonet in F minor with Nicholas Daniel, Peter Sparks, Amy Harman, James Pillai, Simon Callaghan, Benjamin Gilmore, Ashok Klouda and Chi-chi Nwanoku and Beethoven's string quintet 'Storm' led by Priya Mitchell takes place on November 29. And the festival finale on November 30 includes Clara Schumann's piano trio and Finzi's interlude for oboe and string quartet, culminating in Schubert's Death and the Maiden.

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Festival co-founder Natalie Klouda said: "All three of us share a great love of chamber music and have dedicated most of our professional lives to the vast oeuvre of the tradition. We wanted to share our passion by bringing the world's most exceptional chamber musicians together to perform in unique combinations not heard anywhere else. We also wanted a setting that felt very special. Highgate was Yehudi Menuhin's home for a good 20 years and many of the musicians we invite were inspired by his legacy. In fact, we would not have met if it were not for his vision for musical education in the UK. So Highgate is a natural and very special musical home for us and as the nights draw in, it's the perfect time to invite everyone together for a glass of mulled wine, a mince pie and a musical feast.

"A sense of community is at the heart of the festival and it resonates throughout it. The sharing of ideas, and support is key to chamber music performance and at the same time, the festival would not be where it is without those same attributes from the local community."

The festival's popular 'Concerts by Candlelight' series of late-night short performances feature masterpieces such as Brahms' cello sonata in F major and Beethoven's piano trio 'Archduke' up close in a relaxed setting, with mulled wine, mince pies and a festive atmosphere. Under the festival's 'Kids Go Free!' initiative, a paying adult can bring up to two children (under 16) free of charge.


Meanwhile talented musicians Vadim Tsibulevsky and Elena Toponogova will play at a Russian themed finale to 2019's Chamber Music Box concerts.

The Russian violinist and pianist joins Moscow-born Yuri Kalnits, who co-directs the series with Julia Morneweg, to perform a programme of Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Glazunov and Medtner at Rosslyn Hill Chapel on November 17. Morneweg said 'Russian Tales' would conclude the popular concert series' fourth season of "exceptional chamber music in the beautiful yet informal setting of the chapel."

"A richly melodic programme" centred around Alexander Glazunov's string quartet also includes Rachmaninov's elegy for piano and cello which is "perfectly suited to the intimacy of a chamber music box concert."

Also on the bill is "a rare gem of the Russian piano repertoire;" Medtner's sonata reminiscenza.Tsibulevsky appears ahead of leading the orchestra at the Royal Opera House for La Traviata next month. CMB was recently awarded charitable status and through its outreach and community work makes the concerts accessbile to people in the local community.

Russian Tales starts at 3pm tickets £15 from eventbrite.co.uk with free entry for under 25s thanks to the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust.