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The London Festival of Baroque Music promises to be a celebration fit for a Sun King

10 May, 2018 — By Sebastian Taylor

King Louis XIV in the role of Apollo the Sun King in the ballet La Nuit, choreographed in 1653

The musical legacy of the Grand Siècle in France is being celebrated in the splendid London Festival of Baroque Music over the next fortnight.

Most concerts are taking place at St John’s Smith Square. But several are being performed at St George’s Bloomsbury, St George’s Hanover Square and Westminster Abbey.

The music being performed was composed as part of the day-to-day life of the Palace of Versailles at a time that saw the emergence of King Louis XIV as the Sun King. From morn till deepest night-time, Versailles resonated with the most sublime harmonies, becoming the envy of all Europe.

Louis XIV fancied himself as the New Apollo, god of light and the arts, and all the king’s men led by the great Lully helped forge the legend of the Sun King.

“As the French Royal Court of Versailles moves to London in May 2018, we hope you will join us in discovering the treasures in store,” says Sébastien Doucé, the festival’s guest artistic director.

The festival seeks to throw up a new perspective on composers of the French Baroque. Grand statements include Charpentier’s Te Deum in Westminster Abbey. Also, there’s the UK premiere of La Concert Royal de la Nuit representing the event that saw Louis XIV emerge as the Sun King.

The birth of the French Baroque can be heard in Claude Le Jeune’s Le Printemps and the transition to the classical when Iestyn Davies takes the title role in Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice.

There’s an exploration of the influence of the Orient on the French Court and insights into the collaboration between Indian classical musicians and French Baroque specialists.

• The London Festival of Baroque Music’s Treasures of the Grand Siècle runs from May 11-19. Full details at www.lfbm.org.uk

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