July 5, 2008

Cheltenham’s Festival Mixes Classical and Folk

Although there isn't an overriding theme for this year's Cheltenham Music Festival, 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Vaughan Williams, so concert-goers can expect to see plenty of evidence of the overlap between folk and classical.

As a nice example of the variety of music available, the opening night this evening in Cheltenham Town Hall will feature the Manchester-based BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performing works that will include Williams' The Lark Ascending, Percy Grainger's folk- inspired Pastoral and Gum-Suckers' March as well as Suite on English Folk Tunes from Benjamin Britten.

Throughout the fortnight there will be the chance to hear folk- inspired tunes from classical composers including Bartok, Sibelius and Bartok, as well as plenty of traditional music from its original source with the opportunity to acquaint yourself with Norwegian folksong and Hungarian dances. Fans of early music will be able to enjoy medieval ballads as part of the sacred repertoire of Trio Medieval, while Calefax De Spagna will entertain with a set including traditional Spanish dancing music from the 13th to the 16th centuries.

The festival also offers concert-goers the opportunity to catch some premieres, such as Craig Ogden's first ever performance of Mark- Anthony Turnage's Air With Variations for the acoustic guitar. New for 2008 is a series of evening cabaret concerts which will offer some musical magic alongside the gastronomic delights of the Pittville Bistro, where a full sit-down meal is an optional extra while you enjoy performances that include the musical comedy troupe Fascinating Aida and the traditional Venezuelan virtuoso group Trabuco.

The festival starts today and continues until Saturday, July 19. For more information and tickets, see www.cheltenhamfestivals.org or call 01242 227979.

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