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Michael White’s classical & jazz news: International Jazz Day; Cheltenham Jazz Festival; Fidelio Café; Royal Opera House

29 April, 2021 — By Michael White

YolanDa Brown

CLOSE encounters in the crowded intimacy of a jazz club are such distant prospects right now that 2021’s International Jazz Day won’t be quite itself when it arrives on April 30.

But if you’re up for digital alternatives, the streaming service Medici TV – better known as a sort of Netflix for classical music – is marking the event with the launch of a new jazz collection, featuring over 200 on-demand videos that scan performances from festivals around the world as well as documenting the greats of the past.

From Jacques Loussier and Thelonius Monk through to Kris Davis and Jason Moran, there’s material for all tastes, especially if you like what was happening in Paris in the 1950s/60s. And if you take a subscription, you get access to the classical videos too: details at Medici.tv

Meanwhile an iconic UK fixture, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, runs this weekend in an online version that won’t deliver the vibe of its usual home in the town’s Montpelier Gardens, but still gives you artists like Jason Rebello, Tim Garland and YolanDa Brown reduced to small-screen presences over Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 on the Festival’s YouTube site. And it’s free. Details: Cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz

Elsewhere there are vague signs of recovery around – one being the return of the impressively chic, small-scale supper concerts I’ve enthused about before on this page, running at Fidelio Café, Clerkenwell. The format is much as before: you buy a meal, you get a concert with it. But there’s now an option for just drinks with concert. And for under-30s there are discounts – to encourage younger people into classical music.

The just-announced season, starting May 18, has the Consone Quartet playing Mozart, pianist Patrick Hemmerle playing Chopin, the Maxwell Quartet in Beethoven, and pianist Samson Tsoy in Schubert. It’s a lovely space but small (and Covid-distanced), so book early or you won’t get in: fideliorchestracafe.com

Another institution getting into gear for resurrection is the Royal Opera House which, in May, will have a mainstage production of Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito WITH AUDIENCE! (details to follow), as well as an immersive “hyper-reality opera” that involves wearing a virtual-reality headset and finding yourself amid something hard to describe except it sounds like a good, old-fashioned 1960s magic-mushroom trip. With psychodelia. Called Current Rising, it starts May 9. And as only four people can participate at a time, pre-booking is critical.

Waiting for these things to start, though, the Royal Opera has assorted online shows to whet your appetite, some free, some not.

There’s a compacted double bill of Kurt Weill’s cabaret-like Mahagonny Songspiel with the same composer’s Seven Deadly Sins running until May 9. There’s a half-hour performance-based introduction to backstage life called ROH Unmasked.

And there’s 8bit: a sequence of eight online mini-operas, running from this Friday, that comes with a scare alert because one of them is about Covid jabs and features needles (though why anyone should fret about that when the average opera contains far worse horrors, God knows). Details: roh.org.uk

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