Cambridge Music Festival returns with 30th anniversary programme of concerts and online offerings

The Takács Quartet will play the Cambridge Music Festival finale.

The Takács Quartet will play the Cambridge Music Festival finale. - Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Cambridge Music Festival has announced the programme for its 30th anniversary season with both live concerts and online offerings.

The festival’s live music events take place in beautiful venues across the city, including King’s College Chapel, Robinson College Chapel, West Road Concert Hall, and Downing Place United Reformed Church.

Academy of St Martin in the Fields will open the Cambridge Music Festival at West Road Concert Hall.

Academy of St Martin in the Fields will open the Cambridge Music Festival at West Road Concert Hall. - Credit: Benjamin Ealovega

The CMF season kicks off on Thursday, September 30 with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto performed by Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and runs until Wednesday, November 10.

Artistic director Justin Lee said: “After a series of events in June, we’re thrilled to be back this autumn with a full festival programme celebrating 30 years of music making.

"A birthday wouldn’t be complete without good friends, so we’re pleased to welcome back Cambridge favourites Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Choir of King’s College, alongside imaginative performances from Mahan Esfahani and NEXT ensemble."

Mahan Esfahani plays Bach at Downing Place URC on Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Mahan Esfahani plays Bach at Downing Place URC on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - Credit: Kaja Smith

Highlights of the 30th anniversary season include a solo recital from acclaimed pianist Stephen Hough on Thursday, October 7, and the much anticipated return of Mahan Esfahani in an exploration of music by Bach and his contemporaries on Wednesday, October 20.

Pianist Stephen Hough will make his Cambridge Music Festival debut at West Road Concert Hall on Thursday, October 7

Pianist Stephen Hough will make his Cambridge Music Festival debut at West Road Concert Hall on Thursday, October 7, playing Chopin and Schumann. - Credit: Sim Canetty-Clarke

Other major events include the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s graduate ensemble, NEXT, performing Gerard Grisey’s cult work Vortex Temporum on Monday, October 25, and Max Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed performed by 12 Ensemble and Eloisa-Fleur Thom a week later on November 1.

12 Ensemble will play the music of classically-trained composer Max Richter as part of Cambridge Music Festival

12 Ensemble will play the music of classically-trained composer Max Richter at West Road Concert Hall as part of Cambridge Music Festival on Monday, November 1, 2021. - Credit: Supplied by Cambridge Music Festival

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Two Cambridge institutions, Choir of King’s College Cambridge and Academy of Ancient Music, will also join forces for baroque highlights including Vivaldi’s Gloria on Wednesday, November 3.

The festival finale on Wednesday, November 10 will see The Takács Quartet explore quartets by Haydn, Janáček and Beethoven.

The Takács Quartet will play Cambridge Music Festival

The Takács Quartet will play Cambridge Music Festival on Wednesday, November 10. - Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

During the pandemic, CMF developed its online offering, arranging a series of virtual events and broadcasts for those in isolation.

The festival continues to support its audiences online this autumn.

Justin Lee added: "As part of our new online series, we’ll present the world premiere of nine works for pitched percussion and electronics with Joby Burgess.

"Whether online or in person, there is something for everyone this autumn, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating this milestone.” 

CMF will continue its celebrations into next year, with an outdoor sound and light projection at Senate House in early 2022.

The festival is working in collaboration with four local primary schools to create artistic responses to Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, which will form the basis of the sound and light projection.

For the full Cambridge Music Festival programme, visit 

Academy of Ancient Music.

Academy of Ancient Music. - Credit: Marco Borggreve

About Cambridge Music Festival

Cambridge Music Festival presents classical music in bold, imaginative and inspiring ways.

In a city that is awash with concerts, the festival offers a carefully chosen programme of world-class artists — whether well known figures or rising stars — who would not otherwise visit the city.

Previously held each autumn, CMF has adapted its programming since the pandemic to offer a flexible series of events throughout the year.  

CMF was founded in 1991 and the current director, Justin Lee, has been in post since 2012.

Under his leadership, CMF has featured artists from Murray Perahia to Nigel Kennedy, the Philip Glass Ensemble to the Borodin Quartet in orchestral, choral and chamber music concerts, alongside a programme of education and community events, and outdoor sound/light projections.