Anna Magdalena Bach

In 1725 Johann Sebastian Bach was two years into his post as kappelmeister in Leipzig and had been married to his second wife, Anna Magdalena, for four years.  Anna Magdalena was the daughter of J C Wilcke, court and field trumpeter at Weissenfels, and a fine singer in her own right.  She was of huge assistance to her husband, looking after his children (four had survived from his first marriage) and helping him copy out parts for performances.

Two collections of music survive in her hand designed for her private music-making. Much of the music is charming verse songs written by others and presumably used by Anna Magdalena for teaching and her own entertainment, but the notebooks also contain early workings of pieces by Johann Sebastien, later to be taken and created into great works in their own right.   This programme, based around the 1725 notebook of Anna Magdalena offers a charming view to the more domestic side of the Bach household. Kate and Steven will perform sequences of short songs and preludes interspersed with longer pieces including ‘Ich habe genug’ and ‘Schlummert Ein’ as well as solo harpsichord music from the French Suites. 

Find out more on 17 June! Kate Semmens (soprano) and Steven Devine (harpsichord) present a concert including music from the notebooks of Anna Magdalena Bach.


Mediterraneo: the inland sea

Saturday 27 May, 7:30pm

This is a musical evening full of sunshine and salt water; the programme wanders through the varied cultures of the Mediterranean Sea, taking in mediaeval Spanish ballads, Greek songs of the Islands and Asia Minor, Italian lute songs and madrigals, instrumental music of the Renaissance, the Arab lands and the Ottoman Empire, romantic songs from the Bay of Naples and the music of the exiled Sephardi Jews.

Italian singer Alessandra Testai is accompanied by Robin Jeffrey on the lute and its eastern relatives, the Arabian oud and Greek laouto, on the Spanish and Baroque guitar, and hand percussion.

Click here for ticket information, available in advance at £11 (£12.50 on the door). No charge for under-18s.

Alessandra was born in the port city of Livorno, Tuscany. She began her singing studies at the age of 16 at Liceo Musicale Pietro Mascagni, subsequently attending the University of Pisa. She continued her singing studies in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Alessandra has her musical roots in the varied traditions of Italian song – opera, classical recital repertoire and the popular songs of the street and countryside. She has sung as a soloist in opera and oratorio in several international festivals throughout Europe; roles include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Cortona, Italy), Eve and Gabriel in Haydn’s Creation (Cyprus) and various roles in Cavalieri’s Rappresentazione di Anima e di Corpo (La Chaise-Dieu, France, and Southwark Festival, London), Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, The Island Princess and Dido and Aeneas, Monteverdi’s Orfeo and Cimarosa’s  Amor Rende Sagace.

Robin Jeffrey studied at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. A versatile performer on instruments of the lute and guitar families, he has played and recorded with many of the well-known names in the early music field, including The Sixteen, The King’s Consort, the Purcell Quartet and Red Byrd.