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Wigmore Hall announces a two-week Seven Ages festival, placing its award-winning Learning programme centre-stage for the first time.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s take on the seven phases of life, the festival reflects each stage of life’s journey from birth to old-age that Wigmore Hall’s Learning programme encompasses.

Saturday 10 – Saturday 24 February 2018

‘Over the past two decades Wigmore Hall has raised music education from sideshow to showpiece, delivered under the banner of Learning to everyone from babes in arms to centenarians.’  BBC Music Magazine, October 2017

Highlights of Seven Ages include:

World premières of specially-commissioned works by Helen Grime & Joseph Phibbs

Recitals with Heath Quartet, Ruby Hughes, Anna Huntley, Joseph Middleton, Ailish Tynan and others

Workshops, participatory events and concerts for people of all ages

Family and schools concerts

Shakespeare’s reflections on life’s major milestones, voiced in As You Like It by Jacques in his ‘All the world’s a stage’ monologue, is a mirror of Wigmore Hall’s pioneering Learning programme, which has long provided a strikingly wide body of work for people of all ages. It now serves as the inspiration for Wigmore Hall’s first major festival celebrating the breadth of Wigmore Hall’s award-winning Learning programme, Seven Ages, which reveals its extraordinary network of connections with everyone from babes in arms to care home residents.

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,” comments John Gilhooly, Wigmore Hall’s Director. “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.”

In addition to workshop sessions, interactive events and discussions, Seven Ages includes two fascinating evening concerts. The first, on Thursday 15 February, offers the world première of a major new song cycle by Helen Grime, specially commissioned for soprano Ruby Hughes and pianist Joseph Middleton, which sets haunting poems about the joy and pain of parenthood from Fiona Benson’s collection Bright Travellers. Grime, Wigmore Hall’s Composer in Residence, joins Fiona Benson in a pre-concert talk about parenthood and how it can influence art. Hughes and Middleton’s programme contains other musical perspectives on parenthood, Mahler’s impassioned Kindertotenlieder, Ives’s Cradle Song and James MacMillan’s The Children among them.

The timeless metaphor of life as an unfolding, unpredictable journey flows through Seven Ages. Shakespeare’s reflections on the journey’s major milestones provide the frame for an evening of songs old and new, programmed and accompanied by Graham Johnson (Friday 23 February). 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 new Wigmore Hall commission by Joseph Phibbs, and a compelling mix of songs by Brahms, Britten, Mahler, Poulenc, Schubert, Schumann, Haydn, Wolf, Gilbert and Sullivan, Duparc and Noël Coward.

Daisy Swift, Wigmore Hall’s Head of Learning, notes how Seven Ages represents a microcosm of the wider Learning programme, and charts a journey through life guided by the multiple strands of Learning’s work.


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