June 26, 2019

10 years International Chamber Music Festival Wassenaar, a MUST for music lovers

By John Dunkelgrün.

John Dunkelgrün

About 11 years ago the originally Romanian violinist Irina Simon-Renes developed the idea of an international chamber music festival in Wassenaar. This green and leafy town next to The Hague (please don’t call it a suburb!) is home to many people with strong cultural interests, but it lacked a good classical music program.

Irina herself is a well-known violinist, who gives master classes and has performed with major international orchestra’s and at the famous Prinsengracht Festival in Amsterdam. In a town like Wassenaar with many excellent smaller venues, a chamber music event seemed the most appropriate to her.

Irina has many contacts in the music world and so, in 2010 the International Chamber Music Festival was born, of which she has been the artistic director for the initial ten years. From the beginning the emphasis has been on getting internationally renowned musicians such as the famous Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili and Dutch-Maltese conductor Lawrence Renes, as well as musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to perform in a local environment. By now the ICMF has deservedly gained a strong place in the Dutch classical music calendar.

The musicians perform predominantly out of friendship and the organisation consists entirely of volunteers. It is funded by private donations in order to keep the tickets affordable.

Making good music accessible to children has been an important goal of the festival and every year there is a special day for families with children, as well as special projects with the local schools.

For this special anniversary year, Irina joined forces with the new chairman of the ICMF board Annebeth Webb, until recently a violinist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Together they arranged a fabulous program, which includes a concert in a senior home in Wassenaar, a festive concert in Kasteel Duivenvoorde, a tango evening on the beach on the birthday of Queen Maxima and a family concert in Kasteel Oud Wassenaar with François Poulenc’s musical story of the elephant Babar.

Traditionally the main event is the concert in the Dorpskerk in the center of old Wassenaar. This year conductor Lawrence Renes directs a performance which includes Mahler’s first symphony and “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen” as well as the world premiere of Thomas Beijer’s “Ouverture Simon-Renes”. There is a veritable line-up of top musicians like Swedish baritone Karl-Magnus Fredriksson, soloists of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra among many others.

Look for details and tickets at www.icmf.nl, but hurry, they tend to go very quickly.

Photography by Claudine Grin.

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