GIANLUCA MARCIANO AND THE BOURNEMOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WERE ALL A VITAL PART OF THE EVENING'S SUCCESS: THEY MASTERED ENERGY AND BRIGHTNESS WHEN NEEDED, BUT ALSO ENSURED THAT THE DELICACY AND SHEER GOOD TASTE OF TCHAIKOVSKY'S ORCHESTRAL, WRITING WAS ALWAYS BEFORE US.
Gianluca Marcianò announces Bach-inspired programme for 25th Al Bustan Festival featuring world class Bach interpreters Steven Isserlis, Gautier Capuçon, Andreas Scholl and more
13 February – 21 March 2018
Artistic Director Gianluca Marcianò and Festival president Myrna Bustani announce a Bach-inspired programme for the 25thAl Bustan Festival. The Festival’s anniversary year features concerts in churches that date as far back as the Roman Empire, with a range of musicians and styles from world class Bach interpreters, includedThe Swingle Singers,Steven Isserlis and the Luzerner Symphony Orchestra,Gautier Capuçon, Kit Armstrong, Mahan Esfahani, Accademia BizantinaandAndreas Scholl.
Set in a quiet suburb on a picturesque hillside overlooking Lebanon’s vibrant capital, the Al Bustan Festival presents an annual programme of world-class music, dance and theatre – the most innovative and high-profile music festival in the Levant. Enterprising Myrna Bustani, Lebanon’s first female Member of Parliament, founded the Festival in February 1994 as the Middle East’s most high-profile platform for international classical virtuosi, symphony orchestras and opera companies. Bustani received an IAMA Award in 2014 for her valuable work and dedication to promoting music in the Middle East through the Al Bustan Festival for the last two decades. The festival takes place in the Emile Bustani Auditorium and the Crystal Garden conservatory at Al Bustan Hotel in Beyt Meri and at some of Lebanon’s historic churches. A few minutes walk from the hotel, there is an ancient archaeological site with Roman ruins, thermal baths and Byzantine mosaics. The festival, this year, contains numerous performances outside of the Al Bustan hotel – the festival’s home. Many of the venues are churches with rich and long cultural histories.
This year, the Al Bustan Festival features a wide range of musicians and styles centred around the music of JS Bach. The Festival opens on 13 February with a performance byThe Swingle Singerswhere they will perform a variety of music from their Jazz Sebastian Bach repertoire. In the following concerts,Gianluca Marcianòbrings together soloistsGemma Summerfield,Anna Harvey,Nicholas MulroyandMatthew Brookwith theCollegium MusicaleChoirandCorelli Baroque Orchestrato perform Bach’sMagnificat in D Major, St John PassionandMass in B minor,some of Bach’s most favoured vocal works. The first will be performed at theSaint Louis Capuchin Church, which was built in 1864 by the Capuchin missionaries and is named in the honour of King Louis IX of France.St John’s Passionwill be heard at theSaint Elie Churchin Kantari. It was originally a chapel constructed in the eighteenth century, and was expanded into a church at the end of nineteenth century. Seriously damaged during the Lebanese civil war, the church was restored to its former glory and adorned with stained glass on its main façade. It stands today as a proud symbol of unity between the country’s different communities who congregate to it for quiet meditation.
Although Bach was known for his counterpoint, displayed in his large scale works such as the B minor Mass (performed on the 21 February), he was also a composer of music in dance forms, particularly the Gavotte, Minuet, Passpied, Bourée and Gigue. These dance elements in Bach’s music have often been used for many dance projects from ballet to breakdance. On 25 February,Flying Steps– a b-boy crew forms in 1993 – perform breakdance to Bach’s Keyboard Music.
The Bach family counted several composers including not only JS Bach, but also his two sons Wilhelm Fredemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel.Steven Isserlisand theLuzerner Symphony Orchestracapture this in a concert of the Bach Family (alongside Haydn) on the 26 February. They are then joined, the following day, by harpsichordistMaggie Colefor a programme of J.S. Bach’s Suites, Sonatas and Brandenburg Concertos.
The festival includes a strong cello theme, includingGautier Capuçon, who isjoined by pianistJérôme Ducrosto perform a varied programme of Bach, Fauré, Dvořák, Piazzolla, Tchaikovsky and Grieg on 5 March. Bach’s Violin and Cello Suites are widely considered among the most profound in the repertoire. CellistsAntonio MenesesandVictor Julien-Laferrièreperform the 6 cello suites on 8 and 10 March respectively. ActorRifaat Torbeyand actressMireille Maaloufare joined by cellistRoman Storojenkofor an evening of Arabic poetry accompanied by Bach’s solo cello works at the Crystal Garden, at the Al Bustan hotel, on 1 March.
Julien-Laferrière performs the Bach suites in Maad in theMar Charbel Church; a medieval church built on the foundations of a Roman temple. Several Roman architectural elements, such as column bases tombstones, and mosaic fragments, are still remain within the Byzantinesque church or are scattered about the site.
Bach’s repertoire also included extensive Keyboard Music. American pianistKit Armstrongperforms an all-Bach piano recital on 3 March. On 11 March, award-winning harpsichordistMahan Esfahaniperforms two of JS Bach’s English Suite’s in addition to his Sonata in A minor and Toccata in D. Conductor and harpsichordistOttavio Dantoneand his early music ensembleAccademia Bizantinaperform an all-Bach programme with countertenorAndreas Schollon 13 March ahead of their performance of Bach’s Harpsichord Sonatas and Vivaldi’s Concertos for Strings on 15 March.
French jazz pianistEdouard Ferletpresents his uniqueThink Bach Op. 2,based on the album of the same name, which came out in January 2017. In the second half of the concert, Ferlet joins harpsichordistViolaine Cochardfor a duo ofBach Plucked Unplucked– watch a trailer here. Continuing the theme of duos,Sergei KrylovandLana Trotovsekperform Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with theLithuanian Chamber Orchestra.
Making his debut at the festival is German pianistMartin Stadtfeld, one of the leading interpreters of Bach’s music, who will perform the composer’sGoldberg Variations. His recording of the work won an Echo Klassik Award. Also making their debut at the Festival are three young musicians – violinistFlorian Willeitner, pianistMaria Radutuand cellistIvan Turkaljwho, together, will perform as a trio on the penultimate day of the Festival.
Gianluca Marcianòconducts theLithuanian Chamber Orchestrain a concert of orchestral suites on 21 March to celebrate J.S Bach’s birthday and bring the 2018 Festival to a close.
“Gianluca Marcianò […] who has been Al Bustan’s artistic director since 2010, delights in the Arab influence on European music”
“The Al Bustan Festival has presented a beacon of hope and a sign of cultural continuity”
TheAl Bustan Festivalhas enjoyed 25 years of the highest quality music making. Over the years, the Festival has invited artists such asMaria Ewing, Angelika Kirschlager, Evelyn Glennie, Helikon Opera, the Jacques Loussier Trio, Irek Mukhamedov, June Anderson, the Labeque sisters, Sumi Jo, Gautier Capuçon, Emmanuel Pahud, Anna Tifu, Boris Berezovsky, Antonio Meneses, Vadim Repin, Gidon Kremer, Antoni Wit and the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.The Festival has a history of commissioning contemporary composers such asJohn Taverner, Naji Hakim and Roxanna Panufnik.
Presenting around 30 performances each year spanning opera, dance, orchestral and chamber music over five weeks, with additional workshop and educational programmes for the Lebanese National Conservatoire, it provides a further draw to visit Lebanon’s capital in a country already brimming with historic sites from the Assyrians to Ancient Romans, to the glories of Baalbek.
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