A bespoke series of concerts for The Bath Festival takes in music from Brahms to Broadway

A unique programme of early evening one-hour concerts in intimate settings is one of the strands for this year’s Bath Festival. The BathSongs series is an eclectic mix of musical genres celebrating song and featuring international artists and home-grown talent.

One of the intentions of the festival’s musical artistic directors David Jones and James Waters is to open up its programme to as wide an audience as possible. These six concerts cover a wide range of music from folk to classical to Broadway and will include the chance to learn more about the music from the performers.

Parents and guardians will be able to bring young people under the age of 18 to any of the BathSongs events for just £1 a ticket.

Dame Ann Murray. Credit: Sian Trenberth

James Waters, director for the classical strand of the festival, said: “Many of us were introduced to classical music and jazz through our parents taking us to concerts at an early age. This is a nice way of giving a new generation an introduction to the power of live renditions of pieces such as Gershwin’s Summertime.”

The Bath Festival brings to the city international names including Dame Anne Murray, acclaimed for her performances at all the world’s major opera houses from La Scala Milan to the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Graham Brynmor John, winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award, appears having recently sung the lead baritone role in La Boheme with Welsh National Opera. Andrew Staples’ many roles at the Royal Opera House, include Tamino in Mozart’s Magic Flute. Hearing such talent in such intimate surroundings is a real treat.

THE BATHSONGS SCHEDULE

A Top 20 Collection – Saturday 20 May, 5.45pm
St Swithin’s Church, Walcot
Tenor Joshua Ellicott is joined by emerging star Verity Wingate – who went to Wells Cathedral School before going on to the Royal Academy of Music – and pianist Alisdair Hogarth of The Prince Consort, for a top 20 of classical songs by Schubert, Rachmaninov, Gershwin, Schumann, Debussy and Wolf.

Emotions of Spain – Monday 22 May, 5.45pm
St Swithin’s Church, Walcot
Chilean soprano Carolina Ullrich and Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes join world-leading accompanist Malcolm Martineau to explore Spanish song with work by Falla, Granados, Toldra and Espla – encapsulating love, jealousy, pride, joy and sadness.

Brahms from First to Last – Tuesday 23 May, 5.45pm
St Swithin’s Church, Walcot
The life of Brahms is traced through his songs from first to last. Malcolm Martineau is joined by one of the truly great singers of recent years, Ann Murray, and young German baritone Samuel Hasselhorn.

Timeless Stories through Folksong – Thursday 25 May, 5.45pm
St Swithin’s Church, Walcot
Internationally-renowned soprano Claire Booth, accompanied by Christopher Glynn on piano, perform songs by Brahms, Grainger and Grieg – all composers whose work draws on aspects of traditional folksong.

American Songbooks – Friday 26 May, 5.45pm
St Swithin’s Church, Walcot
Rising stars baritone Gareth Brynmor John and soprano Rowan Pierce will delight and touch your heart with songs that range from spiritual to Broadway. Accompanied by Christopher Glynn.

Whatever Love Is . . .  – Saturday 27 May, 5.45pm
St Swithin’s Church, Walcot
Alisdair Hogarth and tenor Andrew Staples of The Prince Consort join forces with award-winning poet Laura Mucha to explore the subject of love, juxtaposing songs with poetry, philosophy and psychology.

BathSongs series pass: buy a ticket to three concerts in the series and receive 50% off a fourth concert in the series. Under 18s £1 tickets for BathSongs series, limited tickets. To book: in person at Bath Box Office, or tel: 01225 463362, visit: thebathfestival.org.uk.

Find out more about the literary programme of The Bath Festival in our interview with
artistic director Alex Clark

Main image: Claire Booth and pianist Malcolm Martineau