CLASSICAL: Seek out Haydn's moving Easter string quartet work; GO2.
WARWICK Arts Society is planning a spectacular couple of months - starting next week with its first ever Easter concert.
On Saturday, April 14, St Mary's Church in Warwick will host the Fitzwilliam String Quartet in a performance of Haydn's Seven Last Words on the Cross.
Haydn wrote this moving work in 1787 for a day-long Good Friday service in Cadiz Cathedral.
The Easter Saturday performance will last about two hours, with readings specially written by Canon David Brindley given by the Rector of St Mary's between the movements.
The climax of the work depicts the earthquake that had recently done great damage to the Spanish city and shows Haydn, who had already put the string quartet as a genre on the map in the preceeding years, at his most masterful.
This Warwick concert is one of a number being staged round the country in the coming months for the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, who have recently made a CD of their work.
Founded at Cambridge University in the late 1960s, the quartet was in residence at the University of Warwick from 1974 until 1977, prior to the arrival of the Coull Quartet in the area.
Its international reputation was made by its recording of the complete cycle of Shostakovich quartets for Decca and it is unusual in that it plays classical works on authentic instruments and the more modern repertoire on modern instruments.
l Tickets for the performance on April 14 are now available from the Warwick and Leamington Festival Box Office on 01926 496277.
THREE weeks later, the first of the May Bank Holiday weekends will see the twelfth themed festival promoted by Warwick Arts Society.
The Leamington Czech Music Festival - running from May 4 to 9 - follows a successful pattern devoted to composers or countries, last year it was the Leamington Haydn Fest and next year it will be the Leamington French Music Festival.
Wendy Reeves, marketing officer for Warwick Arts Society, said: "The links between this area and the Czech Republic are strong and the music of Dvorak, Smetana and other great Czech composers is always a reason for celebration.
"These six days in Leamington over the first May Bank Holiday weekend will bring lots of discoveries for music lovers as well as joy at hearing old favourites again."
Tickets for these events are also available from the box office.
For the music of Smetana, Dvorak, Janacek and some 20 other Czech composers, there can be no more appropriate setting than the refurbished Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington.
This was where during the Second World War, the choir and instrumentalists of the Czech Free Army used to rehearse and give concerts.
Often these forces were conducted by Vilem Tausky, who aged 90, will be returning to Leamington.
He is known to many for his appearances on Friday Night is Music Night, but this was just a part of a distinguished career that saw him conduct all over Britain.
There will also be a talk by Richard Beith on the Czech Free Army's time from 1940 in Leamington and a walk to buildings and sites of relevance.
Czech food and beer will be available at the Royal Pump Rooms during the festival.
On the musical front, Leamington welcomes from the Czech Republic, the Martinu and Janacek String Quartets and soprano Lenka Skornickova, who has sung to great acclaim in the Midlands over the years.
Younger Czech artists coming here for the first time include the Juventus Wind Quintet, pianist Petr Jirikovsky and the brilliant virtuoso violinist Pavel Sporcl.
EASTER DATE: The Fitzwilliam String Quartet