You might remember I trotted off to Leipzig in October and was duly bowled over by Bach's Thomaskirche, to say nothing of all the Mendelssohn and Schumann connections. But there was a special reason for going to see Bach's home environment, and at last it is all announced.
Kathryn Stott, who has taken over as artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, Far North Queensland, has assembled an astounding, fresh and gorgeous festival for this July-August, with a stunning array of international performers and repertoire old, new and brand-new, from Chausson to Bach - the violin partitas by candlelight with Karen Gomyo - to the Gypsy Kings; Chinese music from Sheng master Wu Tong, and Argentinian bandoneonist JP Jofre with tango; and there'll even be concerts on uninhabited coral islands - Townsville is on the Great Barrier Reef coast. The full festival programme is here. And I am just a little bit thrilled to be part of it all. The festival has performed some of my stuff before - A Walk through the End of Time and the Viardot-Turgenev programme were both done there 8-10 years ago under Piers Lane's direction - but for logistical reasons this will be my first visit.
Kathy has commissioned a new music-and-words piece from me called Being Mrs Bach. It's the story of Anna Magdalena Bach and will be in the Bach by Candlelight evening on 1 August, with music from baritone Roderick Williams, soprano Siobhan Stagg, cellist Guy Johnston and many more - here's the full programme and line-up - and I get to narrate it myself. I am also giving a talk in the festival's Winterschool about some notable women composers of the past. As for the prospect of sitting on stage while Roddy Williams sings 'Mache dich mein Herze rein', I reckon for that it would be worth going to the ends of the earth. (And do you think Anna Magdalena wrote the cello suites?)