Christoph Pregardien

Wimbledon International Music Festival

Wimbledon International Music Festival founder Anthony Wilkinson reveals what this year’s event has in store

Tell us about the festival.
We have a predominantly classical music programme from the Italian Renaissance, right to the present day, often encapsulating surprising styles and genres. The festival has solo recitals, opera, choral and vocal music, ensembles, fun and theatrics with our spectacular jazz night, and one of the country’s best orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Can you pick a few event highlights for this year?
I think my personal favourites are the kinds of programmes that are real ‘festival’ events and the ones with curious titles like Method in Madness with the extraordinary violinist Hugo Ticciati, a superb mezzo soprano and electric guitarist who bring together the frenzied world of operatic madness with Finnish rock and Vivaldi. Also From Zero to Infinity, which is at the very heart of this year’s programming; encapsulating music, mathematics and architecture.

It’s also wonderful hearing great music in stunning architectural venues. Music that was composed some 600 years ago for the architectural spaces of Venice, Florence and Rome will sound glorious in the magnificent Sacred Heart Church.

How has the festival grown over the years?
When I began the festival 11 years ago, with the help and support of musician friends and colleagues, it was with only ten events. Thegalaxy of global stars we have attracted over the years have included great names like Alfred Brendel, Sir Andras Schiff, Takacs, Brodsky and Kopelman Quartets, Sir Willard White, Benedict Cumberbatch and so many more. I’m especially proud to have also helped bring new works to life with our group of international co-commissioning partners.

Which performances would you recommend for visitors looking to discover different genres?
Music Labyrinths is great for learning about different genres. Part one is entitled ‘de-constructing fugues’ that might seem at first, like a labyrinth, and will be looking at Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. In part two, it is all music on a theme of ‘labyrinths’ from early works by Byrd and Gesualdo to Richard Strauss. This was a huge hit at the O/ Modernt Festival in Stockholm, and we are delighted to present it in Wimbledon.

Can you tell us about the family concerts?
The family concerts are always huge hits and this year we actually have two, very different programmes on Sunday 17 November. Violinist Hugo Ticciati becomes a musical guide for Musical Games on a Ground Base at 2.15pm and 3.45pm in Emmanuel Church. This is suitable for children aged six and over and explores the magical transformations that can happen when you approach familiar things from new angles. The music for this is superb, including fiery old Spanish dance tunes, Purcell and Bach.

The second programme is at 3pm and 6pm in King’s College School with a double bill of Walton’s Façade with Richard Stilgoe and Patricia Hodge followed by Frabjous Fripperies – a set of songs based on the nonsense poetry of Lewis Caroll, with projections, animations and live dancers, and features King’s College School Chamber Choir and Children’s Chorus.

How can local musicians get involved?
PlayFest, held on 2 November, is a wonderful day of music by local musicians in a series of informal concerts. Last year’s was such a success it was oversubscribed. It’s open to all genres of music, amateur or professionals, groups, duos or soloists. Performers should be Grade 5 standard or over. Contact for more info.

How does the festival work with the local community?
The festival’s partnership with Merton Music Foundation has enabled thousands of Merton children to both participate in and attend workshops and concerts. We introduced a Schools PlayFest and are also supporting ‘Merton Music Presents…’ , a new partnership between Merton Music Foundation and New Wimbledon Theatre.

Wimbledon International Music Festival runs 9-24 November.