Among the top artists are The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers, who at the Grade II-listed Assembly Hall in Shoreditch Town Hall (5 Dec) sing music inspired by the journey of the three kings to see the new-born Christ. Composers include the ethereal Palestrina, and there will be lighter fare with traditional Christmas music.
Pianist Melvyn Tan, a festival favourite marks his own 60th birthday and the festival's 40th with the London premiere (6 Dec) of Catching Fire by former Spitalfields Music artistic director Jonathan Dove, plus Variations for Judith, a set of variations composed by former artistic directors including Judith Weir, Michael Berkeley and Diana Burrell, and a new commission by Rolf Hind. The programme is completed by Weir’s I’ve Turned the Page and Liszt’s Three Concert Études.
The English Concert, directed from the harpsichord by Harry Bicket, return to the festival (7 Dec) with Shakespeare in Love, in which soprano Mary Bevan and countertenor Tim Mead perform music by Purcell and Handel and celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard, at Shoreditch Church.
A very big attraction will be the performance from memory and without a conductor of Bach's mighty and moving B Minor Mass by the baroque specialists Solomon’s Knot (11 Dec), again in the Assembly Hall of Shoreditch Town Hall.
But for novelty value The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments takes a lot of beating. Its programme, Sound House, at The Octagon, Queen Mary University of London (8 Dec) is inspired by the 17th-century philosopher Francis Bacon’s theories of sound, and includes music by Telemann and Vivaldi linterspersed with pieces by the contemporary composer and sound designer Jon Nicholls.
The collective's weird and wonderful instruments include the two metre-long tromba marina, the nyckelharpa, and the rare viola bastarda.
As always, the festival promises to breathe new life into established works and put new ones on the musical map. Early booking is recommended.
|What||Spitalfields Winter Festival, Spitalfields|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Liverpool Street (overground)|
04 Dec 16 – 11 Dec 16, times vary
|Price||£5 - £35|
|Website||Click here for further information and booking|