If you’ve a little spare time on your hands and you want to spend it in Bath, February is a great month to visit and sample two of the numerous cultural festivals our city has to offer.
19th-21st February 2015 is the fourth annual Bath Bachfest, “an inspiring and enjoyable series of performances of Baroque music of the highest quality”.
As is the case with its more well-known parent festival, Bath Mozartfest, the Bath Bachfest ranges beyond the music of Bach himself. The festival opens with a candlelight performance of Vivaldi’s sacred concertos and motets by La Serenissima. Featuring director and violinist Adrian Chandler and soprano Mhairi Lawson, the concert takes place at St. Mary’s Church, Bathwick on Thursday 19th February at 7.30pm. The programme is entitled Il Prete Rosso (The Red Priest), a moniker by which Vivaldi became known during his time as a cleric of the Catholic church, due to the colour of his hair.
But if it’s Bach himself you’re after, skip ahead to Friday’s lunchtime recital at the Guildhall, where his Trio Sonata from The Musical Offering will be performed among works by contemporaries Handel, Telemann and Rameau.
Lots more Bach will be on offer at Friday evening’s concert by the renowned Academy of Ancient Music, at the Assembly Rooms. The performance will showcase a number of Bach’s greatest works, including Suite No. 3 in D Major which features the famous Air on the G String.
Bach’s complete Art of Fugue will be performed at Saturday morning’s piano recital by Angela Hewitt, described by BBC Music Magazine as a Bach performer of “great subtlety, beauty of tone, persuasiveness of judgement and instrumental command”.
The final concert of the festival takes place at Bath Abbey, 7.30pm on Saturday 21st February. The Gabrieli Consort and Players will perform two works from Handel’s early career in Italy, as well as the Concerto Grosso in D Major (op.6 no.4) by Handel’s Roman colleague Arcangelo Corelli. This concert is preceded by a talk at the Quaker Meeting House from 6-6.45pm – a separate ticket is required as spaces are limited, but this is free to concert ticket holders.
To round off the festival in true Baroque style, the Bath Bachfest Supper will be held in the Allium restaurant at the Abbey Hotel, directly following the concert at the Abbey. A separate ticket is also required for the supper, which costs £47 per person for a two course meal including wine and coffee. Be sure to mention when booking if you have any allergies or special dietary requirements.
Visit the Bath Bachfest website for further details including ticket prices and availability.
Running from 27th February to 8th March, the 2015 Bath Literature Festival – sponsored once again by The Independent – celebrates 20 Years of Great Books. This year marks the festival’s 20th anniversary and promises to be a spectacular celebration, with events at venues large and small across the city and exploring a variety of themes and ideas. Highlights include:
- The Bliss Lectures, described as “a headline strand featuring writers and thinkers talking about the thing in life they are most pasionate about”. Touching on subjects as diverse as adventure fiction, feminism and beekeeping, they promise to open a window into the minds and hearts of a diverse range of speakers and provide plenty of food for thought. The Bliss Lectures are supported by festival Creative Partner, Bath Spa University.
- Bath Literature Festival’s international connections explored and celebrated, with a series of talks exploring The American Dream, its literary origins and where its future might lead.
- Voices in the City: a great way return to the joy of childhood storytime as an adult. From spoken word poetry and song with students of Bath Spa University in the open air at Southgate, to dramatic readings of short stories at the Old Theatre Royal Masonic Hall with Pin Drop; from perennial festival favourite Poetry Slam at the Porter to the less formal Bath Poetry Cafe. Be transported by the voices of others, or even bite the bullet and join in!
General booking opens this Monday, 19th January, and events sell out fast – so if you spot a must-see, must-do, not-to-be-missed opportunity to indulge your literary side, don’t hang about! Go to the festival website or visit the Bath Box Office right away!