Music preview: Highgate Chamber Music Festival

Alicja Smietana

Alicja Smietana - Credit: Archant

World class international musicians play intimate concerts in Highgate’s beautiful churches

Highgate Chamber Music festival Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Highgate Chamber Music festival Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Credit: Archant

Back in 2012, a trio of Highgate musicians started a chamber music festival inviting international artists to play in local churches.

Now in its seventh year, Highgate International Chamber Music Festival is bringing together outstanding soloists and musicians from around the world for a week of concerts in the leafy north London village.

For the opening night, festival directors Ashok Klouda, Natalie Klouda and Irina Botan have booked in-demand cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason who made such a moving contribution to the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle earlier this year.

He is joined by violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE for a varied programme including Schubert’s Trout Quintet.

Julian Bliss

Julian Bliss - Credit: Archant

Other highlights of the 2018 festival include local actor Simon Callow reading work by Highgate poets George Eliot, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and A E Houseman, alongside music by Purcell, Debussy and Elgar.

Julian Bliss will play Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, and there’s a performance of Schubert’s Octet in F major with an all-star line-up led by Alina Ibragimova.

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“We are proud to welcome such a distinguished group of artists to perform at the festival again this year,” says Ashok Klouda.

“Highgate’s beautiful churches provide an idyllic setting in which to hear these world-class performers and HICMF 2018 promises to be our most complete and immersive festival yet.”

He added that the carefully curated concerts offer varied programmes with masterworks of the repertoire alongside lesser-known gems, delivered with fresh, energised performances by world-class musicians performing in combinations not heard anywhere else.

And this year audiences are invited to join the artists post concert for a late-night series of short ‘Sonatas by Candlelight’ – complete with mulled wine, mince pies and a festive atmosphere.

Committed to supporting music education and access in North London, the festival is continuing its ‘Kids Go Free!’ initiative which enables any paying adult to bring up to two under 16s with them free of charge.

There will also be pre-concert performances from the selected ensembles of the festival’s Ex-Animo Mentorship Scheme which offers free tuition, masterclasses and performance opportunities to emerging chamber ensembles.

Cellist and animateur Matthew Sharp will provide training sessions in communication, presentation and workshop-building to help these groups lead their own schools’ workshops and concerts in Haringey Primary Schools next year as part of the festival’s outreach work.

Matthew Sharp also presents the festival’s Family Concert at Highgate School’s Dyne House Auditorium on Saturday (November 17), an inspiring and fun hour of music-making for the whole family.

Concerts run from November 20 to 25 at St Anne’s in Highgate West Hill and St Michael’s in South Grove, Highgate. Bookings and further information from