Another year passes and the festival season is upon us again with one of the region’s most venerable festivals on the verge of its half-century.
That is the Bromsgrove Festival, from April 24-May 9, beginning with a quirky nod to the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death in the form of the 1942 film The Great Mr Handel, starring Wilfred Lawson and Elizabeth Allan (The Artrix, April 24, 7.45pm).
Another composer landmark is celebrated on the next evening at the same venue, when the English Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Adrian Partington in a programme of Mendelssohn (born 1809). Dunja Lavrova, a prizewinner in last year’s Young Musicians’ Platform competition, is soloist in the Violin Concerto (7.45pm).
The finals of this year’s Young Musicians’ Platform are at the New Guesten Hall in Bromsgrove’s Avoncroft Museum on May 3 (7pm), but before then there are several other events to savour.
Celebrating the 350th anniversary of Henry Purcell’s birth, the Saraband Consort performs in Grafton Manor Chapel on April 28 (7.45pm) while the 150th birthday of Bromsgrove-born poet A E Housman is marked on May 1 with A Shropshire Lad, a programme of readings, musical settings and reflections by Muse (The Artrix, 7.45pm).
The Bromsgrove Festival ends on May 9 with a concert at St John’s Church marking the 200th anniversaries of the deaths of Handel and Haydn. Donald Hunt conducts the Elgar Chorale and Camerata Orchestra (7.45pm).
The Hagley Music Festival begins on April 29 with a concert given by children from Hagley Primary School and their vocal tutors from Ex Cathedra (St John’s Church, 7.30pm). The same venue hosts a “Serenade” from guitarist Craig Ogden, violinist Madeleine Mitchell and tenor Michael Bennett on April 30 (7.30pm), while on May 1 the Haybridge Community Orchestra performs there with a programme ranging from Bach to local composer Andrew Downes (7.30pm).
The highlight comes at St John’s Church on May 2, when violinist Tasmin Little and the Orchestra of the Swan with conductor David Curtis visit St John’s. Beginning at 7.30pm, the concert is preceded at 6.30pm with a conversation between myself, Tasmin Little, and David Curtis.
Little and Curtis take time out to visit Hagley during a busy few days in Stratford-upon-Avon, where they preside over the town’s second Spring Sounds International Festival.
After a late-night organ recital on April 30 from Andrew Jones in Holy Trinity Church (9pm), May 1 brings an Orchestra of the Swan concert at Stratford Civic Hall (8pm), when Little gives the premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Tibetan Winter from her “Four Seasons” cycle. The programme also includes Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Haydn (Surprise Symphony) and Frank Staneck (Suite for Ursula Vaughan Williams).
* Bromsgrove Festival 01527 876504; Hagley Music Festival 01562 884216; Stratford Spring Sounds Festival 01789 207100;