The 2014 RNCM Chamber Music Festival is to base its programme on the music of J. S. Bach under the title ‘Art of Bach’.

The festival’s artistic director Petr Prause said of this year’s theme: ‘I spent time looking back at the history of the college’s chamber music festivals, from my own time as artistic director to the very first editions, for a musical dynasty I could unlock fully for the first time.

‘The festival has such a rich history and finding a theme each year is a decision I cherish. But on this occasion the answer came easily: the Bach family. With over 50 musicians to its name, I’m delighted to present their music to you over these fantastic three days.’

The Art of Fugue is tipped to be a highlight of the three-day festival, Prause explains in his welcome note: ‘Bach’s The Art of Fugue, 90 minutes of exquisite music based on just one four-bar theme, is at the very heart of this year’s festival. Its multiple fugues and canons appear throughout the weekend in new arrangements by RNCM composers, showcasing chamber music in all its forms, with striking combinations featuring strings, wind, brass, and chamber choir.’

The festival’s programme will also include a concert of music from the composer’s family, including pieces from Heinrich Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and many others. Musicians performing at the festival include: harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani; the Academy of Ancient Music; the Talich Quartet; the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio; young musicians from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Chetham’s School of Music and St Mary’s School; and students from RNCM and Junior RNCM.

As well as performances there will also be masterclasses, including a session on Bach’s cello suites led by Petr Prause, a violin masterclass with Jan Talich of the Talich Quartet, and teaching fellow in historical performance at the RNCM Harvey Davies talks about Bach’s solo keyboard pieces.

RNCM’s chamber festival has previously taken place at RNCM’s concert hall, but the venue is closing in January for a £3m redevelopment. The festival’s performances will instead take place at Manchester Cathedral, St Ann’s Church and Chetham’s School of Music for the first time in the festival’s 16-year history.

The 2014 RNCM Chamber Music Festival takes place on 10–12 January. To find out more and to buy tickets visit www.rncm.ac.uk/festivals/rncm-chamber-festival.

(Image credit: Aaron Groves)

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