Championing Music in Our Community

Leamington Music was launched in July 2006, and aims to maintain Leamington and district as a musical centre dedicated to promoting excellent music.

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Leamington Music Festival 2024

In the Year of Czech Music 2024, Leamington Music devotes its annual flagship event, over the first May bank holiday weekend, to Czech music. With leading Czech musicians here for the 2024 Leamington Music Festival, the five days of concerts and talks will celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the composer Bedřich Smetana and the fiftieth anniversary of The Dvořák Society.

The Festival, running from Thursday 2 to Monday 6 May, all takes place in the beautiful Assembly Hall of the Royal Pump Rooms until the final day when there are also concerts in All Saints and Holy Trinity Churches. The significant Leamington Czech connection that has been developed over the last thirty years has its roots in the Czechoslovak Free Army’s time in the town and surrounding area during 1940-42.  The Army Choir used to rehearse in the Assembly Hall for its many concerts around England.

The Guarneri Piano Trio and Martinů String Quartet head the visiting Czech performers, who, with pianist Martin Kasík are well known to Festival audiences. The leading oboist Vilém Veverka comes for the first time and the young Kukal String Quartet makes its UK debut in a Coffee Concert on 4 May.

British based musicians involved include three members of the Wallfisch family – Raphael, Elizabeth, and SimonGemma Rosefield, Imogen Whitehead, and pianists Piers Lane, Iain Farrington, and Richard Uttley. Horn player Ben Goldscheider, a former BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist and a big success in the 2023 Leamington Music Festival, is back and he now has dual British and Czech nationality.

As expected, the four best known Czech composers, Smetana, Dvořák, Janáček and Martinů are all represented in the eleven concerts in the Festival, but the programming goes well beyond that with Eben, Haas, Kalivoda, Kaprálová, Klein, Kofron, Korngold, Mahler, Punto, Schulhoff, Suk, Tauský, and Ullmann featured, all of them been born in the Czech Lands before Czechoslovakia was created in 1918.

The additional inclusion of works by Beethoven, Chopin, Hummel, Mozart, and Schubert is justified by a number of fascinating links to Bohemia and Moravia, which Richard Phillips, in the last festival of his long career, has built into the programming.

The Dvořák Society has commissioned an Oboe Quintet from Sylvie Bodorová which will be premièred by Vilém Veverka and the Martinů Quartet on 4 May. Sylvie Bodorová, a leading composer of operas, oratorios and chamber music who was born in České Budějovice, is well known to Leamington audiences, having been given five commissions by Warwick Arts Society. Her best-known work is Terezín Ghetto Requiem, premièred in Leamington in 1998 and this will be performed for the fifth time in Holy Trinity Church in the final concert of the Festival on 6 May with baritone Simon Wallfisch and the Martinů Quartet. Other composers who were in Terezín before being transported to Auschwitz have works in the Festival, making another interesting strand to the impressive programming of this event.

Leamington Music’s Artist-in-Residence, Jane Williams, will have a featured exhibition entitled ‘Czech Connections’ showing her pictures inspired by performances from the previous Czech festivals and there will be further displays from the Friends of Czech Heritage, the Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain and The Dvořák Society. The Festival plans include further talks and a walk visiting sites associated with the Czechoslovak Free Army’s time.