Last year's festival included an award-winning revisiting of the songs of Schumann sung in individual houses. This year, Unknown, Remembered does something similar, fusing a brilliant Handel operatic scene with a new commission for DJ Shiva Feshareki, inspired by lyrics from Joy Division's album Unknown Pleasures and Samuel Beckett's monologue Krapp's Last Tape.
A real-life drama well known to pop fans ended in the suicide in 1980 of Joy Division's Ian Curtis. Shiva takes lyrics reputed to be about the relationship between Curtis and his wife, Deborah, to reveal her side of the story. This is interwoven with soprano Katherine Manley singing Handel's La Lucrezia, another story that highlights female trauma, this time from Roman mythology. This immersive, site-specific project is at Studio 92, Wallis Road E9 5LN (4-9 Dec), and is sure to sell out quickly.
The festival opens (1 Dec) with Byrd at the Tower, the Odyssean Ensemble sing sacred motets in the atmospheric Chapel Royal of St Peter at Vincula, inside the Tower of London.
Classical meets electronic (3 Dec) at Chats Palace Arts Centre E9 6DF, where multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire talks about a favourite album, Snowflakes are Dancing by Isao Tomita, with its arrangements of Claude Debussy's painterly music.
The superb soprano Mary Bevan, a Culture Whisper favourite, sings Purcell with the leading lutenist Elizabeth Kenny at Hoxton Hall N1 6SH (4 Dec), and there is more Purcell later on the same evening, along with music by The Smiths, arranged for classical ensemble Coveryard.
Soprano Mary Bevan sings Purcell at Hoxton Hall on 4 December. Photo: Victoria Cadisch
Other events across East London include Ringside Symphony (6 Dec) at York Hall E2 9PJ, featuring Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite and new music by Shiva Feshareki and Anna Meredith. The Fidelio Trio gives UK premieres of two works and a world premier of Memories of a Foreign Land Called Home by Luke Styles at St John on Bethnal Green (8 Dec).
The festival, curated by conductor André de Ridder, is now in its 42nd year. It closes (8 Dec) at St John on Bethnal Green with Quiet River of Dust, the Buddhist-inspired solo album by Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire.
There is something for everyone who draws no lines between musical genres, in fact. Tickets go quickly: best book now.
|What||Spitalfields Music Festival 2018|
|Nearest tube||Aldgate East (underground)|
01 Dec 18 – 09 Dec 18, 14 afternoon and evening events, times and venues vary
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|