The Bridge Festival – four days of live music for strings this week in Glasgow

We bring news of an exciting new festival coming to Glasgow this week. The Bridge Festival, originally scheduled for May 2020, is bringing some of Europe’s finest string-playing ensembles together for a four-day program of inspiring music.

Hosting the event are the Scottish Ensemble, who will be joined by the Trondheim Soloists, Ensemble Resonanz and the Estonian PLMF Music Trust, a talent development organisation offering opportunities for musicians without setting age limits.

The concerts are fascinating. Thursday 21 April will see a combined opening concert, all ensembles joining for a programme of Nachtmusik at the Barrowland Ballroom, with music from Hildegard von Bingen to Jonny Greenwood by way of two world premieres. These are commissions from Mica Levi (Flag) and Erkki-Sven Tüür (Deep Dark Shine), and the works are complemented by Penderecki’s Polymorphia – for 48 solo strings – and Greenwood’s 48 Responses to Polymorphia.

On Friday 22 April a lunchtime concert from the PLMF Music Trust showcases their home country. The trust, now nearly 20 years old, supports the development of talented professional musicians by organizing master classes, opportunities to perform and by introducing them internationally. Estonia! will include more Tüur (Symbiosis) and the Concerto for Chamber Orchestra from Jaan Rääts, while looking at the Estonian classical heritage through the eyes of Artur Lemba’s String Sextet and Heino Eller’s Five Pieces for Strings.

Later that day the Scottish Ensemble will perform Anna Meredith’s Anno at Tramway, with performances at 6pm and 8pm. Anno was written for the group, after an observation by the ensemble’s artistic director Jonathan Morton that Meredith’s style had similarities to Vivaldi. In response she wove an original work into Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a clever interpolation that provides an invigorating live experience. The performances will be complemented by work from visual artist Eleanor Meredith, the composer’s sister.

Later still – at 9.30pm – there will be a chance to enjoy Ensemble Resonanz’s club night urban string, which will transform the Glad Café into a hotbed of minimalism. Music by Lou Reed, John Cage, Julia Wolfe and Glaswegian DJ Charlie Knox is promised.

Saturday 23 April offers what looks like a special concert of Nordic music old and new, given by the Trondheim Soloists. The ensemble will bring with them more traditional Nordic classical fayre – Grieg’s Two Nordic Melodies and Peer Gynt Suite, with the latter in a version featuring the sounds of the Norwegian national instrument, the Hardingfele. Sibelius’s Valse Triste will also appear, contrasted with Britta Byström’s A Walk To Gade.

Finally, on Sunday 24 April, comes a fascinating musical melting pot in Saint Lukes at 8pm. Ensemble Resonanz will be joined by guest performers including Hamburg-born bağlama player and vocalist Derya Yildirim and duduk player Deniz Mahir Katal. Twelve composers were asked to write a new work, with new compositions incorporating traditional Turkish, Anatolian, Kurdish and Greek songs, as well as new works for Derya’s voice, the bağlama (a Turkish stringed instrument, similar to the lute) and the string players of Ensemble Resonanz.

The result is a new, trans-cultural song cycle, combining old folk songs and new music, performed in modern cultural settings and creating a new experience of music from across Europe and across the centuries.

It should be a fascinating and inspiring four days of music – and for more information and tickets for each of The Bridge Festival concerts, you can head to the dedicated website