As the Year of the Great Lockdowns draws miserably to a close, we need to look forward to a time when we can get our lives back. This makes it a perfect moment to dream of summer and, most especially, the playing of live music by the great musicians we so missed this year.
As we promised a few weeks ago, we are releasing the first edition of next summer’s Bantry Festival with details of over a hundred concerts and recitals. The full programme will be developed over the coming weeks as gaps are filled, masterclasses are confirmed and all the extras that make up a festival are put in place.
At this point in time we can only guess under what conditions the Festival will come into being, but we have assumed that only tiny audiences will be permitted to attend each individual event – thus the multiplication of concerts.
The musicians, one and all, have been troupers, one cried out: ‘Please overload me with work, I am craving for a good old hectic festival week!’ So this is what we have to look forward to – over eighty fantastic musicians gathered in Bantry for ten days thirsting to play chamber music all day long. It will be the Year of Impossible Choices as concerts will run simultaneously in several venues – do you choose late Beethoven or late Schubert, a violin recital or a string quartet, a cello recital or a piano recital, a piano trio or a song recital, Baroque or Classical, Romantic or contemporary – part of the pleasure will be making these decisions.
As ever the repertoire is wide-ranging even with a strict limit on the number of performers on stage. Bantry will be joining the major chamber music venues of Europe and USA by presenting the extraordinary Danel Quartet playing the complete Weinberg cycle of seventeen quartets. Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk will give us the Beethoven cello sonatas; the ever-adventurous Ragazze Quartet will play the complete Bartók cycle; the powerful Pavel Haas Quartet will carve a path through the great Czech composers, Dvorak, Janacek, Martinů and Smetana; the sensational young Russian cellist, Anastasia Kobekina will play the six Bach Cello Suites; the celebrated Duo of Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien will play a Mozart Plus recital series; Johannes Moser and Andrei Korobeinikov will present the three Martinů cello sonatas; Nurit Stark and Cédric Pescia will play the three Schumann violin sonatas; the fabulous French soprano, Sophie Junker, will be joined in recital by the Vienna-based Irish pianist, Deirdre Brenner; the French group, Ensemble Diderot, will trace the career of Handel through the trio sonatas of himself and his contemporaries while Ensemble Köln led by Greek violinist, Ariadne Daskalakis, will play Biber’s ground-breaking Mystery Sonatas and as a commentary on Biber Mairéad Hickey will perform David Lang’s hommage of the same name
Please explore the programme. The majority of recitals are for 45’ with one or two each day lasting up to an hour. The main evening concerts will be without an interval and will last 75-90’. Predicting concert length is a notoriously inexact science, but the tight programming will encourage accurate time-keeping.
Over the coming weeks the programme will be added to and adjusted in many ways, most especially with the inclusion of the masterclasses, student concerts, talks and the instrument exhibition until we reach the point where we can number each event and print a brochure. We plan for priority booking for Gold Friends to open on February 11th.
Finally I would like to emphasize that West Cork, and Bantry in particular, has been almost untouched by the pandemic. We have a very low population density and are particularly well ventilated thanks to the purifying powers of regular Atlantic gales.
Francis Humphrys, Festival Director