Beautiful music in atmospheric venues

The Bath Festival hosts concerts in some of the country’s most atmospheric, historic buildings. From Bath Abbey to the Assembly Rooms, read on to find out more about some of the wonderful experiences in this year’s music programme.

The Bath Festival is going to welcome the very first day of indoor arts events resuming after lockdown by hosting a world class orchestra playing in one of the city’s most sublimely beautiful buildings. On Monday 17 May the Bath Festival Orchestra will perform an exclusive concert in Bath Abbey. If you are unable to attend in person, you’ll be able to watch the performance for free via The Bath Festival At Home digital festival, between Friday 28 May and Friday 11 June.

This will be the first concert held in Bath Abbey since the restoration Footprint project began on this centuries old church. As part of the remedial repairs on the medieval floor many of the wooden pews were removed. This new open space has allowed the visitor to see more of the interior of the abbey and to enjoy the sunlight pouring through its windows across the expanse of pale stone. The portable, cushioned seats will be a lot more comfortable too, for worshippers and concert goers.

We have two internationally renowned quartets, the Carducci and the Heath Quartets, coming to The Bath Festival to perform a remarkable physical and emotional challenge. They will be taking their audiences through Beethoven’s entire 16 strong cycle of string quartets. This series of concerts will be a rare chance for audiences to embark on this musical journey, from the young composer’s youthful energy right through to the powerful, brooding emotions of an older man painfully aware of his mortality.

The Assembly Rooms will provide the setting for the string quartets. Take a seat under some of the finest chandeliers in the world and let your imagination fly free, as so many have done before us in this historic building, with its high ceilings and elegant sense of space. Whether you come to one or all six of the concerts, we guarantee the experience of sight and sound will stay in your memory.

And so to Bath’s largest entertainment venue, The Bath Forum. This splendid Art Deco former cinema has been adapted for our times. A £70,000 air purifying system has recently been installed throughout the building and the electronic booking system automatically selects your seats in a socially distanced grid.

Settle down to enjoy a fascinating talk by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, the head of Britain’s most talented musical family. She will share insights from her memoir, House of Music, about what it’s like to have seven gifted children, all of them attending State school and going on to win international acclaim. The talk will be enhanced by two musical interludes by two of her children, violinist Braimah and pianist Konya on Sat 22 May, 7.30pm.

Also at The Forum is the annual Concert for the People of Bath with Bath Philharmonia. Anyone who has witnessed conductor Jason Thornton leading this ensemble will feel a stirring of civic pride as they take to the stage. This year they will be joined by violinist Coco Tomita (you will want to tell people in years to come that you saw her here first) and pianist Alexandra Dariescu for an evening of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor on Thursday 20 May, 7.30pm.

Learn more about the complex character Beethoven from a world expert, biographer John Suchet. He’ll be at The Forum on Wednesday 19 May at 2pm, this event having been re-scheduled from last year, which was the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. The broadcaster and writer, author of Beethoven: The Man Revealed, is an engaging and informed speaker. It will be a pleasure to hear him live.

The Life of Music with Nicholas Kenyon gives us another opportunity to hear an interesting speaker who is passionate and knowledgable about his subject. The former director of the BBC Proms has written a fascinating book about the power of music and this talk promises to be both engaging and inclusive. Fri 21 May, 2pm at the Assembly Rooms.

Another former cinema is one of The Bath Festival’s venues for live events. Komedia in Westgate Street, sister venue to Komedia Brighton, is a pioneer for comedians and up and coming bands. For a night of fresh and vibrant talent, join Jealous Tina, Shutterdog, Jazz Beats and Joely presented in conjunction with Tub Music, on Thursday 20 May, 7.30pm.

Also at Komedia is Woke, a gripping drama using words and music, to tell the story of African American struggle spanning four decades. This absorbing drama by Apphia Campbell won a Scotsman Fringe First award when it originally ran. See for yourself at Komedia, Tuesday 18 May, 7.30pm.

Finally, the jewel in Bath’s crown, the venue that people come to in their millions – the Roman Baths. The Bath Festival is extraordinarily privileged in these challenging times, to have secured this unique venue for a concert like no other. The audience will be so close to the famous waters of the baths that they’ll be able to watch the steam rise as human voices soar in harmony up into the night sky. Our guests for this evening of Sorrowful Songs are The Gesualdo Six, a British vocal consort. For those who were unable to secure tickets for The Gesualdo Six’s two Bath concerts there’s the chance to join them vicariously during The Bath Festival At Home digital festival, 28 May to 11 June. See the full programme for The Bath Festival at Home here.

Tickets are selling quickly for The Bath Festival so we’d recommend booking now to make sure you don’t miss out on a wonderful musical experience. Book here

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