Preview: Christ Church Arts Week

Christ Church Arts Week opens on Monday 18th February, presenting a week of concerts ranging from Baroque works to compositions by current Christ Church students. Run by Christ Church Music Society, poetry and art also feature heavily in the programme, with two concerts being held in the Christ Church Picture Gallery. On Thursday 21st February, The Oxford Collision Ensemble, established to provide a performance platform for new composers in Oxford, will be presenting works by graduate composers of the Music Faculty and poets Annemari Ferreira, Tom Clucas and Luke Lewis. Isabel Stoppani de Berrié, speaking on behalf of the ensemble, said that the programme “ranges from formalist experiments comprising singers and sequence to atmospheric dialogues of echo and thought”, the aim being to “embody the merging of sound and visual art through…music and poetry striving to engage with the Gallery space.” Monday’s concert, featuring instrumentalists Fatima Lahham and James Donaldson, also focuses heavily upon interaction with performance space, including poetry readings and compositions by Christ Church students, inspired by the artwork in the gallery.

Bernardo Daddi: Musical AngelsFrom the Christ Church Picture Gallery
Bernardo Daddi: Musical Angels
From the Christ Church Picture Gallery

As the Festival falls at the start of Lent, Tuesday 19th sees a collaborative retelling of the Easter story. With poems by Maggie Goren read by Sheila Probert, and music devised by Dan Goren and performed by Bruno Guastalla, the performance accompanies projected images of etchings by Michael Fell. Maggie says of her poetry that “a central theme to my poetic interpretation of the prints was the natural element of doubt which is part of being human.” In attempting to capture the humanity of the Passion story, Dan’s Goren’s music is scored for solo cello; according to Maggie the cello “has the most human voice of nearly all orchestral instruments”. Dan says that his score “combines the powerful poetry and images with a kind of musical palette from which the performer draws the performance. The aim of these techniques is to inspire a performance uniquely charged with the ‘now’. I am especially excited that this work is being performed by cellist Bruno Guastalla, to whose musical and intellectual sensitivity it is eminently suited.”

Interspersed with these multi-disciplinary projects are performances of Bach and Telemann cantatas by Alexander Brett and Rosalind Dobson, Christ Church College Choir performing works by Buxtehude and Casals conducted by William Waine, and the week concludes with Oxford University String Ensemble playing Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and Strings, and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Strings.

Leah Broad

Christ Church Arts Week runs from Monday 18th February – Saturday 23rd February. All concerts are in Christ Church Cathedral at 20:30, except the concerts on Monday and Thursday which will be held in Christ Church Picture Gallery starting at 17:30. Tickets £5/£3/free for CCMS members and may be bought on the door. Please contact hazel.rowland@chch.ox.ac.uk for more information

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