Life may still be a bit strange at the moment, but the good news is that live music seems to be slowly making a comeback.
1)An exciting new addition to Oxfordshire’s classical music scene is Concerts at Pyrton, a series of chamber music recitals in the historic St Mary’s Church, parts of which date back to the 10th century. The hour-long concerts, given twice every Saturday to allow as many as possible to enjoy them, feature some of the country’s finest musicians.
Coming up this Saturday is acclaimed cellist Colin Carr playing cello suites by J.S. Bach. Online tickets have now sold out, but a limited number of non-reservable seats are being kept available and these will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. Proceeds will go to Concerts at Pyrton and the St Mary’s Church restoration fund.
The series was established at the beginning of August by eminent composer/conductor Ryan Wigglesworth – a graduate of New College, Oxford – and the award-winning soprano Sophie Bevan, who has sung with Royal Opera, WNO, ENO, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Garsington Opera.
For more information and for online booking, visit https://pyrtonconcerts.com/
2) Another treat for the Bank Holiday weekend comes courtesy of Bampton Classical Opera. If you were disappointed at the postponement of this year’s opera production, console yourself with A potpourri of pleasures and passions, an hour-long concert of music by Monteverdi, Blow, Eccles, Purcell and Handel.
The concert takes place in the garden of Cobb House, Bampton, on Sunday and Monday at 4pm, and features Lisa Howarth (soprano) and Robert Howarth (harpsichord).
Tickets for Sunday have now sold out, but Monday tickets are still available.
For details and online booking, visit www.bamptonopera.org.
3) Looking ahead, booking opens on 8th September for Instruments of Time and Truth’s annual Messiah, which takes place this year on Saturday 19th December at the University Church with the Oxford Consort of Voices and conductor Edward Higginbottom. This is always a popular event, so it’s worth getting your booking in early!
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen it, you can catch up with Musical Culture and Empire in 18th Century London, a four-part web series that premiered every Tuesday throughout August and is still available to see on YouTube. This collaboration between IT&T and Warwick University is a fascinating exploration of the lives of musicians and their patrons in 18th century London.
For details and links, visit https://www.timeandtruth.co.uk/concerts-events.
4) Garsington Opera returns to the stage on 12th September for the first of five concert performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio, in a nod to the great man’s 250th birthday. There are further performances on 14th, 16th, 18th and 20th September. Sadly, all dates are now sold out, but you can add your name to the waiting list. And don’t forget you can still watch previous productions of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and David Sawer’s The Skating Rink on YouTube. Find out more at www.garsingtonopera.org.
5) Music in the Vale – the chamber music series that takes place monthly at the lovely St Denys’ Church in Standford-in-the-Vale – makes a tentative return to live performance on 19th September, although the website warns that this is subject to review nearer the time. The programme, Autumn Diversions, features music by Ravel, Mahler, Zemlinsky and McCubbin, played by the Loxley Wind Quintet – Rachel McCubbin (flute), Nicky Brass (oboe), Helen Finch (clarinet), Raymond Joyce (horn) and Ian McCubbin (bassoon).
Proceeds from the concert go to St Denys’ Church.
For details of this and other forthcoming concerts, visit http://musicinthevale.net/index.php
6) Enjoy your own private concert on a chauffeured punt with singers performing opera and song courtesy of Opera Anywhere, while you enjoy the tranquilly of the River Cherwell and stunning views of Oxford.
Why not bring your own picnic or stop for a drink at the Victoria Arms (made famous by Morse) or complete a perfect evening by booking a meal at the Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant on your return?
In order to book an opera on punts trip go to: https://operaanywhere.com/opera-on-punts/
7) Finally, the Orchestra of St John’s has its OSJ Unlocked series at Dorchester Abbey coming up, starting on 26thSeptember.
Read the recent Ox In A Box interview with John Lubbock at https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/osj-bounces-back-with-series-of-live-concerts-and-a-few-surprises-up-its-sleeve, and visit www.osj.org.uk for full details of forthcoming events and other projects.