Friday, 22 January 2021, 8.00pm

**Music for Galway puts safety precautions in place for
online streaming of Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG **

Music for Galway is to stream its Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG from three separate locations over the weekend of 22 - 24 January to ensure the safety and peace-of-mind of participating artists and personnel.

The full festival was originally to be presented from St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church Galway but the three concerts are now to be presented from separate locations:

Friday, 22 January / 8pm
The festival opens with the original version for harpsichord of JS Bach's Goldberg Variations performed by Malcolm Proud from his home in Kilkenny.

Saturday, 24 January / 8pm
Xenia Pestova Bennett (piano) with her husband Ed Bennett (electronics) perform Gold.Berg.Werk, a new version for piano and live electronics by Karlheinz Esssl, from St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church Galway.

Sunday, 24 January / 3pm
Maia Cabeza (violin), Sergey Malov (viola) and Natalie Clein perform Dmitry Sitkovetsky's iconic string arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations from Berlin.

As originally planned, Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG closes on Sunday evening, 8pm with a screening of Bruno Monsaingeon's film, The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach.

Anna Lardi, Executive Director, Music for Galway commented:
"MfG’s Midwinter Festival was created to bring some light into the depths of winter and has become a much anticipated chamber music event in Ireland's cultural calendar. Due to the Covid pandemic, and in order not to disappoint this year, we announced we would present our 2021 festival online. Since the move to Level 5 and with numbers still escalating, we're now taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of our artists and personnel by streaming live from three venues instead of one. To help alleviate this particularly bleak January, we hope our Goldberg programme of concerts raises people's spirits and brings them joy."


~ Harpsichordist Malcolm Proud and cellist Natalie Clein are among the stellar performers ~

Music for Galway is delighted to present its Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG.
The full festival was originally to be presented from St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church Galway but the three concerts are now to be presented from separate locations Jan 22nd - 24th

For their 2021 Midwinter Festival, Music for Galway's Artistic Director Finghin Collins has chosen to focus on a single work, Bach's masterful Goldberg Variations, inviting world class musicians to perform it over the festival weekend.

Speaking about the programme, Finghin said:

"I think it will be fascinating to hear different versions of the Goldberg Variations four times over one weekend in Galway. It's such a rich work that it will generously repay such repeated attention, allowing people to make comparisons between the different versions. The festival will be streamed live for the first time ever so a global audience can go online and savour the intimate and enjoyable experience of our Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG."

Bach's 30 variations created around one opening aria represent the most joyous and contemplative of music, reaching a pinnacle of musical invention. They were written originally for harpsichord and it is believed that Bach composed them as a balm to cure a nobleman’s insomnia.

Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG opens on Friday 22 January with a performance of Bach's original Goldberg Variations by Malcolm Proud, Ireland’s pre-eminent harpsichordist. Described by The Irish Times as "something of a musical visionary", Malcolm Proud has lived and worked with Bach's Goldberg Variations for many decades, and is critically acclaimed for his interpretation of this monumental work.

Music for Galway presents live performances of two newer versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett performs Gold.Berg.Werk with her husband, well-known music artist and composer Ed Bennett, on electronics. In writing Gold.Berg.Werk, Austrian composer Karlheinz Essl created an altogether modern 21st century response to Bach's work by adding electronics between the variations and altering the order of some of them. He collaborated closely with Xenia Pestova Bennett on this new version for piano and live electronics.

Dmitry Sitkovetsky's iconic string trio arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations, created in the 1980s, is Music for Galway's second choice of a more recent treatment of the work. It is performed by three superb musicians: exceptionally talented violinist Maia Cabeza; the versatile Russian born virtuoso Sergey Malov on viola, and Natalie Clein, the 'mesmerising' and 'soaringly passionate' British cellist, as described by The Times London.

Finghin Collins chose this string trio version because he felt it would be refreshing to hear the work on violin, viola and cello: "You can hear the voices so clearly interacting with each other, bringing the piece into a very different sound world. I heard Sasha Sitkovetsky playing it at the Westport Chamber Music Festival in 2019 and it spurred me on to programme it for our Midwinter Festival in 2021."

Each festival performance will be preceded by a short introductory talk from one of the performers.

It is fitting that Glenn Gould’s hugely significant 1955 film recording The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach is the fourth and closing event in Music for Galway's Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG.

Canadian Glenn Gould, one of the greatest pianists in the history of the 20th century, famously recorded the Goldberg Variations twice. In 1955, his first recording, a highly energetic, often frenetic interpretation, proved to be his breakthrough work, making his name legendary. In contrast, his subsequent 1981 recording is slower and more deliberate, and was one of CBS Masterworks' first digital recordings, and among Gould's last albums. He set out to treat the aria and its 30 variations as a cohesive whole.

The film by Bruno Monsaingeon, The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach was shot in New York in April and May 1981 and brings us up close and personal with this exceptionally talented artist.

Anna Lardi, Music for Galway’s Executive Director commented:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the arts and live music. Music for Galway has had to pivot quickly from being an organisation that presents live concerts to becoming an online production company. While nothing will replace the live music experience, it is hugely rewarding to know that we can now livestream our concerts, at very high quality, to homes anywhere in the world. Wherever you are, we hope you will join us for this immersion in Bach’s glorious music.”

Music for Galway Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG
22 - 24 January 2021

Live streaming of the festival from St. Nicholas Collegiate Church Galway


Friday 22 January / (8.00pm)

Festival opening:
Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach (original)
Malcolm Proud - harpsichord

Saturday 23 January / (8.00pm)

Gold.Berg.Werk by Karlheinz Essl
Xenia Pestova Bennett - piano
Ed Bennett - electronics

Sunday 24 January / (3.00pm)

Bach's Goldberg Variations, arr. for string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsky

Maia Cabeza - violin
Sergey Malov - viola
Natalie Clein - cello

Film screening / (8.00pm)

The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach (a film by Bruno Monsaingeon)

Ticket prices:
€12 per concert
€8 for film documentary
€40 for a festival ticket

Tickets will be available to purchase for live stream links to festival events from 17 December on

Music for Galway acknowledges the support of The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon
and Galway City Council

A special thank you to Music for Galway's Sponsors MJ Conroy and NUI Galway


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