Wednesday 31 March 2010

Cambridge College Chapels

It’s been a while since we’ve blogged. Life at Britten Sinfonia has been pretty busy with lots of concerts and a massive amount of planning going on regarding our 2010/11 season – more news on that will follow in the next couple of months.

In the meantime we have a concert this weekend at King’s College Chapel as part of the Easter at King’s Festival and then next week a concert of Latvian choral music at Trinity College Chapel. As I was driving into work this morning it led me to thinking about the number of Cambridge college chapels we’ve performed in this season and what makes them such special performance spaces. I think it has something to do with their intimacy, as an audience member you feel very close to the performers on stage (if there is a stage). It’s not to say being an audience member is always the most comfortable experience – more than likely you have to sit on uncomfortable wooden chairs or pews (bring your own cushion if you don’t want a numb bum!) and sight-lines are often terrible leading to a bad neck. However the acoustics are generally superb and the vast array of music on offer in Cambridge College Chapels, either in the regular services or special concerts is amazing.

Perhaps the most iconic chapel in Cambridge is King’s College Chapel. With its famous gothic splendour the view from the backs is used on postcards, as a backdrop to many TV news interviews, and is also the venue for the Christmas Eve service, A Festival of Nine Lessons which is broadcast worldwide. The interior is indeed splendid with the largest fan vault ceiling in the world and some of the finest medieval stained glass. Britten Sinfonia has performed in the chapel many times and this Easter Saturday is joined by soprano Lucy Crowe for a concert of music by Arvo Pärt, Bach, Haydn and Mozart. There are still some tickets available.

Then on Thursday 8th April we move a down the road to Trinity College Chapel for a concert conducted by Stephen Layton and featuring the music of Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds. The orchestra will be joined by choral group Polyphony for this performance. As these two concerts show, vocal music particularly flourishes in these spaces and all of the college chapels have associated choirs. In December we performed with Jesus College Choir in a Christmas concert of music by Benjamin Britten, and visitors to Cambridge are often welcome to attend evensong at the college chapels – a great way to experience these buildings in all their glory!

Claire (Marketing Director)

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