Michael White’s classical & jazz news: EFG London Jazz Festival; Mozartfest; Hastings Piano Festival

Thursday, 12th November 2020

Gwilym Simcock Gregor Hohenberg

Gwilym Simcock. Photo: Gregor Hohenberg

IT’S an inauspicious day, Friday 13, but one to take note of this week because it starts the EFG London Jazz Festival. And though Lockdown 2 is cramping its style, the 2020 programme will still be online – without the shoulder-hugging atmosphere of packed-out subterranean clubs, but with no effort spared to capture the excitement of spontaneous music-making on your home screens. Since its beginnings in the 1970s as Camden Jazz Week, the Festival has grown into a sprawling venture that unites small clubs with major venues like the Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre. And from dozens of events that beg attention this year – which has a bigger than usual emphasis on diversity – look out for rising talent Emma-Jean Thackray at 9pm, Friday 13, streaming from the Total Refreshment Centre; Viennese saxophonist Guido Spannocchi playing three shows at Highbury Arts Club, noon, 2pm & 4pm, Sat 14; and looking ahead, Joe Stilgoe with Clare Martin at Crazy Coqs, 6.30pm, Thurs 19, as well as jazz pianist supreme Gwilym Simcock at the 606 Club, 8pm, same night. Many of the performances are free to watch, others come at a modest fee. And the whole thing runs until Sunday 22, with full details at www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

Not quite so noisily exuberant as the Jazz Festival, Bath’s Mozartfest is nonetheless one of my favourite annual fixtures: a supremely civilised celebration of core-classical chamber music in beautiful venues that draws artists, audiences and a lot of love from all over the world. Needless to say, it isn’t happening as planned this year; and even the reduced-scale alternative version that hoped to run has been scuppered by Lockdown 2. But it will function online – so if you’ve never been to Bath and experienced the pure joy of it all, here’s the chance to discover what you’ve been missing. Spanning Wed 18 to Sat 21, the concerts take place in the Bath Assembly Rooms where all your favourite Jane Austen characters once turned out in their best to find acceptable marriage partners. Artists include pianists Melvyn Tan and Steven Osborne, clarinettist Michael Collins, the Doric String Quartet, and others of equal distinction – playing Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Debussy. Online ticket prices are extremely modest. And viewing details are at www.bathmozartfest.org.uk

• Somewhere else to visit from your locked-down armchair might be Hastings – which is bracing at this time of year, so steer clear of the sea and focus on the one-day Hastings Piano Festival which runs online Friday 13­. With performances by the likes of BBC Young Musician winner Martin James Bartlett, it culminates in a session with the genre-crossing pianist/songwriter Rufus Wainwright who is one of the unlikely converts to the charms of Hastings’ growing keyboard culture (another being Petula Clarke who graced the town’s 2019 Piano Competition and, from the conversation I had with her at the time, proved very serious in her love for Mozart and Rachmaninov!) Details at www.hastingsinternationalpiano.org. Wrap up warm.

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