London Mozart Players, New English Ballet Theatre, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Tenebrae and The English Concert

Martin James Bartlett, Brodsky Quartet, Ingrid Fliter, Sheku & Isata Kanneh-Mason, Anoushka Shankar and Samuele Telari among this year’s line-up

Cheltenham Music Festival continues to champion new music, living composers and engage with new technology through a dynamic range of commissions, performances and events embracing established creatives and emerging talent

8 – 16 July 2022

Cheltenham Music Festival today [8 March] announces nine days of performances and events by leading international artists, new talent and innovators from 8 – 16 July. After last year’s socially distanced festival, 2022 will see audiences back to full capacity for the first time since 2019.

For nearly 80 years Cheltenham Music Festival has championed new music and ways of engaging with audiences through quality performances and innovation. The 2022 Cheltenham Music Festival builds on this heritage with concerts from major and emerging musicians, multiple new commissions and a range of events encompassing everything from talks, Composium, walks and mindfulness sessions – all presented in stunning venues across the Cotswolds.

Michael Duffy, Head of Programming at Cheltenham Music Festival, commented:
“It’s fantastic to be able to fully welcome back audiences to Cheltenham following two years of disruption. As a newcomer to the Festival, I’m hugely indebted to Camilla King, my predecessor, for putting this year’s programme together. I hope that audiences will find a rich variety of the familiar and the new, from orchestral spectaculars in Cheltenham Town Hall to more unusual and intimate offerings, international artists and new talent, two new commissions examining the nature of relationships, dance, walks and talks.”

Highlights include: – Leading international artists including Martin James Bartlett [13 July], Brodsky Quartet [11 July], Anoushka Shankar and Manu Delago [9 July], Anna Dennis [15 July], Ingrid Fliter [10 July], and Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason [8 July].

Look Both Ways on 16 July sees three composers explore the themes of connection and identity. Presented in association with Wild Plum Arts, the concert includes two world premieres: Connor Mitchell’s settings of correspondence between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, and Claire Victoria Roberts’ set of miniature works inspired by the letters between Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, alongside Bobbie-Jane Gardner’s arrangement of Odetta’s iconic 1970’s song: Hit or Miss.

Other world premieres include works by Andrew Chen [9 July] and participants in the Composer Academy.

- Laura Bowler’s Distance, a ground-breaking multimedia chamber work, will be performed at Parabola Arts Centre [10 July]. While soprano Juliet Fraser performs live in Cheltenham, the Talea Ensemble will be livestreamed from New York.

New English Ballet Theatre celebrates the work of six female choreographers [10 July].

- Continuing the Festival’s commitment to supporting young talent the BBC New Generation Artists recital series is back with four live lunchtime broadcasts [12, 13, 14 & 15 July]. There are four further early evening ‘Rush Hour’ recitals on the same days, the second of which will showcase a finalist of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2022.

- Also returning are Classical Mixtape [11 July], Composium [15 July] and Music and Mindfulness [9 July].

Bringing The Best Of
Opening this year’s festival are the Kanneh-Mason Duo, siblings Sheku and Isata, performing pieces for cello and piano by Britten and composers he knew: Frank Bridge and Dmitri Shostakovich [8 July]. The dynamic programming continues with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in the Town Hall by Sergei Dogadin and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko [8 July]. The following day the Gould Piano Trio, praised for their “musical fire”, will premiere a piece by Andrew Chen amongst a programme of Fauré, Beethoven and Saint-Saëns [9 July].

Steeped in the Indian tradition, Anoushka Shankar is celebrated for her sitar playing and as a cross-genre composer exploring the realms of classical, contemporary, acoustic and electronic music. She performs with Manu Delago and the strings of the Britten Sinfonia [9 July]. Multiple award-winning pianist Ingrid Fliter will perform Haydn, Beethoven, Scarlatti and Schumann in a programme demonstrating her famously effortless technique in 18th- and 19th-century repertoire [10 July], before the Brodsky Quartet celebrate their 50th anniversary by tackling 20th century pieces including Japanese composer Karen Tanaka’s At the Grave of Beethoven [11 July].

Tenebrae’s 20th anniversary is celebrated with narrator Juliet Stevenson in a wide-ranging programme of music and spoken voice, including Poulenc’s Figure Humaine, composed in response to the occupation of France in World War II [12 July]. This concert will include new commissions from Josephine Stephenson and Roderick Williams, with spoken interludes framing it as a celebration of love and freedom in the face of adversity.

Performing their namesake composer’s ‘Jeunehomme’ 9th piano concerto with Martin James Bartlett, the London Mozart Players also perform Pärt and Britten with Ben Goldscheider and Ben Johnson at Cheltenham Town Hall [13 July].

London of the 1720’s is vividly brought to life by The English Concert and soprano Anna Dennis who examine the fierce rivalry between Handel and Bononcini [15 July].

The 2022 Cheltenham Music Festival concludes with Mahler’s monumental Symphony No.8, often referred to as the ‘Symphony of a Thousand.’ Performed in the majesty of Gloucester Cathedral by the British SinfoniettaChoristers of Gloucester Cathedral, multiple choirs and soloists conducted by Adrian Partington [16 July].

Championing New Music
As part of its continued advocacy of new music, this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival will present Distance, a ground-breaking multimedia chamber work by Laura Bowler [10 July]. While soprano Juliet Fraser performs live in Cheltenham, the Talea Ensemble will be livestreamed from New York. The work focuses on the psychological distance from Earth’s environment when travelling by plane, as well as the psychological impact of air travel on passengers.

On another end of the spectrum, this year will see the world premieres of Conor Mitchell’s settings of correspondence between Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears, celebrating the universality of love [16 July]. This concert, ‘Look Both Ways’, will also premiere Claire Victoria Roberts’ set of miniature works inspired by the letters between Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya.

Unique Experiences
Classical Mixtape [11 July] tears up the concert-going rule-book, with audiences asked to pay whatever they can for their tickets and encouraged to stand, sit or lie down to experience music in the stunning setting of Gloucester Cathedral. Artists including the Manchester Collective, the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, accordionist Samuele Telari and organist Jonathan Hope will perform on separate stages dotted around the Cathedral, each short piece followed seamlessly by another. Leaving the concert-hall behind altogether, In The Footsteps of Ralph Vaughan Williams offers a guided tour around Down Ampney and the countryside where he grew up [11 July].

Committed to providing a unique festival experience, Cheltenham are offering ‘Music and Mindfulness’ hosted by Will Crawford [9 July]. This session will link meditation and the power of music through breathing exercises, and help to manage stress by using specially composed and recorded pieces. Later in the day guests can enjoy champagne afternoon tea in The Daffodil as they watch contralto Hilary Summers and pianist Andrew West take a romp through the wild world of opera where absurd plots, gender fluidity and voice categorisation all come under light-hearted scrutiny in ‘What’s So Great About Opera?’ [9 July].

This year’s edition of ‘Composium’ will explore the dynamics of the composer-performer relationship in the wake of two years of disrupted music-making during the pandemic, with first performances of works by the Composer Academy participants played by musicians including harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani [15 July].

Further adding to the variety on offer at Cheltenham this year, the New English Ballet Theatre brings six inspired choreographies by female choreographers [10 July].

Talent Development
Talent development has long been a focus of the Festival, and this year it continues its partnership with the BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists with four lunchtime recitals, all broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. This year’s artists include mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston [12 July], pianist Tom Borrow and Quatuor Arod [13 July], violinist Johan Dalene [14 July] and pianist Alexander Gadjiev [15 July].

Audiences will also get the chance to attend four ‘Rush Hour’ recitals in St Gregory’s Church featuring accordionist Samuele Telari [12 July] and cellist Leo Popplewell [15 July] as well as a finalist of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2022 and the winners of the 2022 Gloucestershire Young Musician Competition and Keith Nutland Award, both of which will be announced at a later date.

Reaching out to younger audiences too, school children across Gloucestershire will visit Cheltenham Town Hall during the Festival to participate in Concert for Schools, an interactive concert presented by Musicate musicians to inspire young people’s enthusiasm for classical music. Added to this, the Festival’s first ever Relaxed Concert for Schools is an adapted performance, devised to welcome children, young people and their teachers from the SEND (Special Educational Need and Disability) sector.

And the Composer Academy, part of the festival’s Spotlight Talent Development Programme, returns this year from 11 – 15 July. The scheme supports early-career composers (aged 18+), offering them professional advice and mentoring. This year will see six composers work with Composer Academy Director Daniel Kidane to workshop, perform and record their works with artists including renowned harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. The composers will also have access to industry professionals in a series of panel talks discussing craft and contemporary aesthetics along with career development. The final day of Composer Academy will run alongside and as part of ‘Composium’, where all six compositions will be premiered.