The Cambridge Summer Music Festival returns this year with an exciting program that includes music in the Botanic Garden, opera in a stately home, a classical piano legend and an orchestra playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony from memory.
The lineup aims to offer something for everyone and is packed with big-name artists in an effort to win back audiences who may still feel nervous about live events post-pandemic.
It’s a bold bet from artistic director David Hill, who explained that after a tough time financially due to closures, the festival wanted to make a big comeback.
He said: “It’s been a huge team effort to do this in a relatively short period of time, because with everything that’s going on, in terms of wider public health and how difficult it is to put things in place these days, but also last year’s festival, which was in many ways, very good, money wasted due to social distancing, so we had to start a bit from scratch this year. am extremely indebted to Angela Dixon and the team at Saffron Hall who have helped us bring in some very famous names this year that we think audiences will love.We also have many concerts that the whole family will enjoy including the music from films such as Star Wars and Harry Potter by a brilliant all-female horn octet called Cor8.And the Sounds Green concerts at the Botanical Gardens are back, starting with the folk group Honey and the Bear which is a folk duo and roots. It’s very light music and it’s fun and it’s local. They conjure up stories and songs, tell tales of Suffolk folklore, their passion for nature and strange sorrows. It’s great fun to sit down and have a drink or a picnic and listen to these people making great music.
Some of the famous names this year include legendary pianist Imogen Cooper playing Schubert, Ravel and Liszt. Trumpeter extraordinaire Crispian Steele-Perkins will lead a masterclass and join me in a trumpet-organ recital. This is a unique opportunity to hear Albeniz’s masterpiece, Iberia, performed by the winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition, Artur Pizarro, as well as the artistry of a different kind of keyboardist, classical accordionist Ryan Corbett. Choir fans will be treated to a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Ely Cathedral as well as the extraordinary singing in close harmony of the Gesualdo Six. The Festival ends triumphantly at Saffron Hall with the Aurora Orchestra giving a stunning rendition of Beethoven 5 – from memory.
David said: “Cambridge needs to bring in big names for people to come and hear them because it needs to be more outward looking than it has sometimes been. There’s so much going on in the city that’s brilliant, it’s a wonderful thing, actually. But once in a while, everyone should stop and listen to someone who is at the top of their game internationally. Just to know what may be the difference between this and anything you might actually come across. That’s the whole point of a festival, to be able to say, come hear something you probably wouldn’t normally hear. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
“For the first time this year, we are also having an open-air opera at Childerley Hall, which we like to think of as our own mini-Glyndebourne, which will be a performance of Mozart’s much-loved opera, Cosi fan tutte.”
Four to book now
There are too many festival highlights to mention, but here are the tickets to grab right away:
Sounds Green outdoor concerts
On Wednesday evenings in July, Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden rings with live music, including Honey & thBear, Prime Brass, Camilla George Quartet and Classico Latino.
Bring a mat and a picnic. The concerts are open to all ages. Sale of food, ice cream and drinks. Music from 6:15 p.m.; the garden closes at 8:00 p.m. Due to limited capacity, all paying visitors must purchase tickets to the garden in advance through the Botanical Garden website, on sale from June 2022. Tickets may also be available at the door, but this cannot be guaranteed. For ticket prices, see botany.cam.ac.uk.
Mozart’s cosi fan tutte
Stroll through the romantic gardens of Childerley Hall, then gather in Childerley’s beautiful 19th-century Long Barn for a performance of Mozart’s much-loved opera – Cosi fan tutte. This comedy of young lovers tying themselves in romantic knots is given a new lease of life in this brand new production, transposing the action to 1970s Cambridge where a band of buttoned-up students are about to follow a love tutorial.
Friday, July 15, 6:30 p.m. With a 1:15 hour picnic break. Gardens open from 4pm Childerley Hall Dry Drayton, CB23 8BA. Tickets: £20, £35, £40. cambridgesummermusic.com/booking/
Classical accordionist Ryan Corbett
Prepare to be amazed by this performance by virtuoso classical accordionist Ryan Corbett. Corbett won the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in 2021, and his playing has a freshness and sparkle that sets him apart as a star of the future. Its musical program, composed or transcribed for accordion, encompasses a clever mix of baroque, romantic and contemporary styles. Initially self-taught, Corbett is now recognized across Europe as an exciting young force on the classical music scene.
Sunday, July 17, 1 p.m. Sidney Sussex Chapel. Tickets: £10 plus booking fee (ages 8-25 free). cambridgesummermusic.com/booking/
Imogen Cooper: Piano Legend
Considered one of the best performers of the classical and romantic repertoire, Imogen Cooper is internationally recognized for her virtuosity and lyricism. She is celebrated for her interpretations of Schubert and Schumann, but also for promoting contemporary composers such as Thomas Adès.
Saturday July 23, 7:30 p.m. West Road concert. Tickets: £20, £26, £30 plus booking fee (ages 8-25 free).