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An Exciting Future for Music at the Fitz

Music, and its performance, have always been a wonderful feature of The Fitzwilliam Museum, and as we enter our third century, we want to ensure an exciting future. We build on a great tradition. On Sunday 13 October the lunchtime concerts returned to the Fitzwilliam Museum, only six days after the beautifully refurbished Gallery 3 was unveiled to the public. With Gallery 3 closed for two years, our concerts had gone “on tour”, performed in a number of Cambridge colleges. We are thrilled that our volunteers and audience were so steadfast in their support.

Our season began with Diana Brekalo performing works for piano by female composers on the Museum’s Steinway grand piano. Our second concert on 20 October was given by Francis Knights playing his harpsichord who later proclaimed on Twitter:

“FINISHED!!! After more than ten years and 30 concerts, I’ve now performed the complete Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, on harpsichord, virginals, spinet, ottavino, clavichord and organ. Today’s final concert of Byrd was back at the Fitzwilliam Museum itself.”

The Virginal Book went on special display this weekend.

This important link between musical performance at the Fitz with works of art in our Museum is a new focus for this year’s concerts, one which we hope will make the Fitz’s contribution to the rich musical life in the city particularly exciting and distinctive . That’s why, as part of the Fitz’s year-long Sensual/Virtual season, we have staged the exhibition Seeing Sound: Music, Imagery and Inspiration.

This small but innovative display brings together a remarkable range of works from the Museum’s collections, including works by Handel, Renoir and Rossetti, to explore the ways in which artists and composers have engaged with the fascinating dialogue between sight and sound. We firmly believe that hearing music being performed in the galleries across the Museum not only brings to life our rich and rare collection of music manuscripts and instruments, but also adds an extra dimension to our paintings and other art objects in our care. View this term's remaining concerts on our website, and look out for Lent term programming in the next January to April What’s On.

Moving forward, the Fitz is keen to work with as many members of Cambridge’s brilliant music community as possible to ensure a lively programme of performance, for a wide audience and, as much as possible, connected with our great collections. We’re delighted to be working once more with the secondary school age students of the Britten Sinfonia Academy in this, their seventh year collaborating with us. Our youngest visitors will also enjoy working with musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music in HarmonEyes for 3 – 5 year olds on 18 March next year as part of Cambridge University’s Science Festival. The Britten Sinfonia Academy performance on 15 April and the HarmonEyes event will both be feature in the What’s On for January to April.

Director Luke Syson said:

“Gallery 3 is perhaps the most magnificent space ever created for displaying paintings in this country. I want make sure that the art historical story this great room, as in all the Museum’s galleries, presents is clear and compelling. But this gallery will also be an important teaching, entertainment and performance space, which needs to be both beautiful and flexible. To ensure it can be enjoyed in all these many ways, our Steinway piano will no longer be stored in Gallery 3 when not in use, but of course it will be returned to Gallery 3 when required for a concert.”

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22 October 2019

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