Bath Bachfest 2024
It is my pleasure to invite you to the 13th Bath Bachfest, our annual celebration of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries set against the backdrop of one of Europe’s most beautiful and welcoming cities.
The festival was founded in 2012 as a complement to Bath Mozartfest and successor to the long-established Bath Bach Festival founded by Cuthbert Bates and later directed by his daughter, Elizabeth Bates, our Patron.
This year we open with Tenebrae, directed by Nigel Short. We will hear the acclaimed choir’s glorious singing in a programme which begins with music for Holy Week written by the renowned composer Carlos Gesualdo, followed by three much-loved Bach motets, together creating a programme of sacred gems – perfect for this skilled ensemble.
On Friday we welcome back two Bachfest favourites. At lunchtime the peerless Mahan Esfahani (who has achieved so much as an advocate for the harpsichord) will give a lunchtime concert featuring suites by Handel and J S Bach, the two giants of the Baroque period, as well as a work by Dieterich Buxtehude whose style greatly influenced both of these composers.
And in the evening The Academy of Ancient Music takes us on a joyful journey to Baroque Italy in a celebration of the Italian concerto in all its thrillingly entertaining forms. From Vivaldi’s popular and melodic L’Estro Armonico, to Corelli’s exuberant Concerto Grosso, via Mossi, Locatelli and Valentini, this virtuosic concert promises to dazzle and delight.
I am pleased to introduce the Katona Twins, Peter and Zoltán, who bring their outstanding guitar playing to the ‘fest’ for the first time. The Hungarian twins’ programme will encompass all the Baroque ‘greats’ from Handel to Scarlatti and, of course, J S Bach and promises to perfectly showcase their technical ability and acclaimed musicality.
Arcangelo, directed from the harpsichord by its artistic director, Jonathan Cohen, will give our final concert in Bath Abbey. The award-winning period performance ensemble will be joined by the rising-star violinist Théotime Langlois de Swarte, appearing here as both soloist and Konzertmeister in this illuminating all-Bach programme of concerti and cantatas which showcases the composer’s incomparable and enduring genius.
My colleagues and I look forward to seeing you at Bath Bachfest and sharing an up-lifting and entertaining mid-winter musical interlude.
Amelia Freedman CBE, FRAM, Artistic Director