Advent is a good time to visit the historic buildings of E1. Two of East London’s finest churches – Hawksmoor’s Christ Church in Spitalfields (pictured) and Shoreditch Church – host a range of baroque and contemporary music concerts as part of the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival.
Unsurprisingly, seasonal music plays a part in the programme with a performance of Handel’s Messiah on 20 December and a ‘medieval yuletide feast’ from innovative early music group Joglaresa on 19 December.
But there’s distinctly non-Christmas fare too, like the Tom Waits project put together by composer Gavin Bryars. On 13 December, songs by Waits can be heard in Shoreditch Church, a brilliant out-of-context setting for a songwriter whose music has always looked to the dark side of life for inspiration.
Firmly in context are the numerous choral performances and it is here that Spitalfields Music really makes its mark as a boutique festival. Renowned ensembles I Faglioni, Gallicantus, The Sixteen and La Nuova Musica will all sound sublime, whether singing Monteverdi or Handel.
As an opportunity for reflection away from the season’s pressures, it’s hard to think of a better place to head to this month.
Spitalfields Music Winter Festival runs from 10 to 20 December. See the full festival listing here.
Image by Joe Dunckley via the Londonist Flickr pool.