2012 Festival Newsletter
Issue 6, January 2012
BOOKING OPENS TODAY FOR FESTIVAL FRIENDS
To become a Festival Friend, simply buy top- or second-price tickets for 5 or more concerts in one booking from today.
- Telephone 020 7222 1061 any time between 10am and 5pm and receive a 20% discount
- Say that you wish to become a Festival Friend
- You will then be sent a Friends membership card.
Festival Friends enjoy -
- complimentary post-concert drinks with artists after evening concerts on 18, 19, 20, 22 and 26 May
- a complimentary Festival programme; those who join before 30 March will also be credited on the Friends page in the programme
- Extra this year -
2 tickets to a by-invitation concert with the European Union Baroque Orchestra on 'Europe Day', Wednesday 9 May, at St. John's, Smith Square. More information
GENERAL BOOKING OPENS 1 FEBRUARY
Full details of the Festival programme are now available on-line and in print.
The Lufthansa Festival's Artistic Director, Lindsay Kemp, remembers Gustav Leonhardt, who died on Monday 16 January at the age of 83.
It was with sadness that we learned last week of the death of one of the great musicians of our age.
Gustav Leonhardt's achievements as a harpsichordist and as a seminal figure in the early music movement have already been recounted in obituaries in the press and on radio, and there will doubtless be many more to follow in the coming weeks. I would like to take this chance, however, to remember the profound impression he made on an audience last May at St Gabriel's Church, Warwick Square, when he made his first ever appearance at the Lufthansa Festival, and, as it transpired, his final concert appearance in the UK.
The streets around St Gabriel's are quiet on any day of the week, and even more so on a Sunday afternoon. If, like me and my friends, you had arrived at the church by an empty side road, you could have been forgiven for thinking that nothing much was going on. And perhaps, too, you might have missed the tall, elegant, mackintoshed figure we encountered peering with evident interest through the windows of a parked Aston Martin. Leonhardt's love of fast cars, seemingly so at odds with his apparent personal austerity, was well known, but to see it displayed here with such childlike pleasure and twinkle was an endearing start to the whole event. Having greeted him, we walked with him back to the church, to find as we passed the front of the building that there was an eager queue of people (including a good number of professional harpsichordists) waiting on the pavement for the doors to open. Their evident excitement at seeing him walk by would be enough to thrill any concert promoter.
The recital itself - a selection of relatively unfamiliar works by Bach, Buxtehude, Böhm, Pachelbel, Reincken and Weckmann - was of course a supreme demonstration of keyboard mastery and wisdom, delivered by Leonhardt with his characteristic mix of intellectual control, crisp resonance and glinting shafts of wit. But it was also an occasion when you could feel the warmth and love flowing from the audience towards this great musician and reserved, self-effacing gentleman, from the moment he made his willowy walk to the platform to when he played his own mellow transcription of the Sarabande from Bach's Sixth Cello Suite as an encore.
I for one have never witnessed Leonhardt talking to an audience - there have been times when he has appeared too shy even to look at them - but here we had the rare experience of hearing him introduce the final piece in the main part of the programme. With charming simplicity and subtle, glancing humour he told us how much, at his time in life, he enjoyed the feeling that playing Bach's youthful Aria variata alla maniera italiana brought him closer to the composer as a young man. The significance of the remark, coming from a man perhaps more closely associated with Bach's music than anyone, was not lost on us and I doubt if anyone who was there will ever hear the piece the same way again. This was a deeply touching and personal moment for us all. It was a privilege to be there.
Photograph of Gustav Leonhardt taken at the Lufthansa Festival, St Gabriel's, Warwick Square, 15 May 2011.
For your further interest...
Queen Elizabeth Hall, 7pm
An Olympic Thread
In this concert the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment takes centre-stage in the Cultural Olympiad celebrations, with the world premiere of Spinal Chords by Sally Beamish, commissioned as part of New Music 20x12. The programme also features cantatas by Handel, an overture by Telemann and a concerto grosso from Locatelli, directed from the stage by OAE leader and violinist, Matthew Truscott.
Photograph of Chi Chi Nwanoku
Copyright 2012 Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music.