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Celebrating 50 Years of the London International Festival of Early Music

London International Festival of Early Music

Southeast London is once again set to host the vibrant London International Festival of Early Music. Celebrating its golden 50th edition this November, the festival promises performances, workshops, and a glimpse into the rich world of early musical instruments.

Dive into the Music: LIFEM 2023

The heart of Blackheath will resonate with melodies from 8 to 11 November. This year’s edition promises not just music, but a gathering of artists, enthusiasts, and music aficionados from around the globe.

Starting on a high note, 8 November will see a captivating performance from the previous year’s LIFEM Young Ensemble Competition champions, Ensemble Pampinea. But that’s just the overture! The following day, a gala concert will unveil the world premiere of a work by Roxanna Panufnik, rendered by the skilled harpsichordist Jane Chapman. This masterpiece takes inspiration from the tunes of John Dowland’s ‘Pavana Lachrymae‘, a nod to William Byrd’s 400th anniversary.

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Music Beyond Performances

Beyond the concert hall, attendees can look forward to the world’s largest early music fair. Witness a collection of unique early music instruments—crumhorns, shawms, rackets lutes, viols, fiddles, and the distinctive sackbuts. Alongside, music publishers, recording labels, and societies will also showcase their contributions.

LIFEM: A Rich Musical Tapestry

The London International Festival of Early Music, inaugurated in 1973, has journeyed from the Royal College of Music to Blackheath Halls, London’s oldest cultural venue. Throughout its history, LIFEM has showcased vibrant artists and enthusiastic early music supporters. Adapting to challenges like Covid-19, the festival embraced innovation, launching LIFEM:Digital in 2020. Today, they host both in-person and digital events, with 2023 promising an even grander global gathering.

Exhibition & Legacy

Central to LIFEM is their acclaimed early music exhibition, featuring over 70 exhibitors globally. Instruments range from baroque winds to early keyboards. They’ve also showcased renowned artists like Solomon’s Knot and commissioned annual world premieres. Beyond performances, LIFEM offers workshops, talks, and their new “Festival Evensong”. They host two biennial competitions and, recently, have attained charitable status to promote early music education.

Stars of LIFEM 2023

British organist William Whitehead and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Experience Ensemble are set to steal the show. This ensemble is a unique initiative, granting young music students and graduates the chance to share the stage with established OAE musicians. For those who can’t attend in person, Marquee TV will broadcast the performances post-festival.

The revered Society of Recorder Players/Moeck Solo Recorder Competition is on the roster too. Three talented finalists will take center stage, aiming to impress an esteemed panel. This includes the likes of Annabel Knight, Adrian Chandler, and Dutch maestro Erik Bosgraaf. Closing the festival with a flourish, Erik Bosgraaf will collaborate with Poland’s Wrocław Baroque Orchestra on 11 November.

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