New Seven Ages Festival places Wigmore Hall Learning programme centre-stage

Wigmore Hall has announced details of a major festival showcasing its award-winning Learning programme.

Wigmore Hall Learning provides a wide body of work for people of all ages and now, inspired by Shakespeare’s reflections on the ‘seven ages’ of man (voiced in As You Like It by Jacques in his ‘All the world’s a stage’ monologue), it has launched Seven Ages, a festival celebrating its network of connections with everyone from parents and babies to care home residents.

Learning is a major theme of Wigmore Hall’s 2017/18 artistic programme and Seven Ages (10-24 February 2018) offers a snapshot of Wigmore Hall Learning’s ongoing community work – including creative music-making with teachers and pupils, people who have experienced homelessness, children and young people in hospital and people living with dementia.

Come and Sing event © Benjamin Ealovega
Come and Sing event © Benjamin Ealovega

In addition to workshop sessions, interactive events and discussions, highlights of the festival include:

  • the world première of a major new song cycle by Wigmore Hall’s Composer in Residence, Helen Grime, especially commissioned for soprano, Ruby Hughes, and pianist, Joseph Middleton, which sets poems about the joy and pain of parenthood from Fiona Benson’s collection, Bright Travellers. Helen Grime joins Fiona Benson in a pre-concert talk about parenthood and how it can influence art. Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton’s programme contains other musical perspectives on parenthood including Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Ives’ Cradle Song and James MacMillan’s The Children –15 February 2018 
  • an evening of songs programmed and accompanied by Graham Johnson. Soprano, Ailish Tynan, mezzo-soprano, Anna Huntley, tenor, Ilker Arcayürek, and bass-baritone, Stephan Loges, share the stage for a recital that includes the world première of a Wigmore Hall commission by Joseph Phibbs and a mix of songs by Brahms, Britten, Mahler, Poulenc, Schubert, Schumann, Haydn, Wolf, Gilbert & Sullivan, Duparc and Noël Coward – 23 February 2018
  • a Come and Sing event during which people living with dementia and their families and carers will join vocal leader, Isabelle Adams, for a session of group singing exploring a mixture of music from across the ages – 20 February 2018
  • The Big Sing! – an opportunity for people of all ages to sing as part of a choir, develop singing skills and explore new music with vocal leader, Isabelle Adams, and soprano, Milly Forrest, alongside singing groups from across the Learning Programme – 24 February 2018
Music for Life © Benjamin Harte
Music for Life © Benjamin Harte

John Gilhooly, Wigmore Hall’s Director, said:

‘We have created Seven Ages to give our audiences a flavour of the richness and diversity of the unique range of work we lead across the community, with people of all ages and backgrounds. Wigmore Hall Learning will present more than 500 events this year. Many of these, including masterclasses with Richard Goode and Sir András Schiff, are integral to our main evening programme. There are also so many opportunities for people to make and explore music at Wigmore Hall, to be part of a great and growing community of performers and listeners. Learning stands at the heart of Wigmore Hall.

‘We’re fully committed to serving the community, building new audiences and sharing the experiences of extraordinary music-making at Wigmore Hall with the widest possible audience. We know that music has such a positive role to play in education, personal development, wellbeing and mental health, areas of the highest importance to society. That’s why we are investing so heavily in Learning now and for the future.’

Daisy Swift, Wigmore Hall’s Head of Learning, said:

‘Seven Ages celebrates the different journeys we all take through life and explores just some of the many ways we can make music at different stages of our lives. We’re thrilled to collaborate with community, social and healthcare organisations to enable more people to take part in music-making, regardless of background or circumstance. Just some of our partnerships include Great Ormond Street, Fairbeats and Positively UK – to bring families together through Family Sounds – and Turtle Key Arts and National Portrait Gallery – to continue our work with young people with Autistic Spectrum conditions.

‘Alongside many events for under-fives, schools, families and adults, we’re also launching two new events: Sound Connections and Wired4Music invite anyone to drop in and explore their own Musical Pathways in a visual art activity and we launch a brand new series of Bechstein Sessions, informal early evening performances in our Bechstein Bar.’


Header photo: Family Day © Benjamin Ealovega

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