Smorgaschord Festival 2024

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1 22nd June 2024 | Oxford

Featured Artist Welcome


Welcome to Smorgaschord 2024, the 4th edition of our festival! This year, as in every year, we’ve curated a snapshot into a world of music that is adventurous, fascinating and fun!

We are thrilled to be joined by some of the most exceptional musicians in the UK, and we are so excited to welcome them into our Smorgaschord community!

Composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson is Artist in Focus this year, and will present a dazzling array of musical treats for us, ranging from his own work to a performance of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

We’re also delighted to feature awardwinning baroque violinist Charlotte Spruit, who performs a concert devoted to the music of the German Baroque. Anyone who has had the thrill of seeing Charlotte perform this music before will know that we are in for something full of detail, gorgeous imagination and spontaneity.

But perhaps most important for us at Smorgaschord is that our concerts have a sense of joyous community about them. This year we are immensely excited to work with the extraordinary Damascus Rose Kitchen for the first time, an Oxford-based enterprise for Arabicspeaking refugee women. Trust us, this is something that cannot be missed!

We can’t wait to spend another beautiful midsummer’s day with you all—come join the fun!

Mark’s compositions have been described by The Guardian as ‘blazingly original’ and ‘utterly distinctive’, but he is that rare thing: as fine an instrumentalist as he is composer. The only person ever to win both BBC Young Musician and Young Composer competitions, it will be fascinating to see Mark perform his own music during the course of the day.

He has established himself as a major new voice on the international stage, hailed as a “revelation” (Bachtrack) and “standout” (Guardian). As a performer and composer, he is committed to new music and his compositions have been performed at the BBC Proms, Salzburg and Edinburgh International Festivals, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre London, amongst others. He performs worldwide as a clarinettist, both as a concerto soloist and chamber musician. Recent concerto highlights include the Lindberg Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms with Juanjo Mena, the Nielsen Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and

Sir Andrew Davis, as well as appearances at the Southbank Centre’s International Chamber Music Series, Cologne Philharmonie, Salzburg, Edinburgh International and Aldeburgh Festivals with artists including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust, Antoine Tamestit, Danielle de Niese and Jean-Guihen Queyras.


With a sparkling and stylistic performance, Charlotte Spruit is convincingly establishing herself as one of the most promising young talents, and deserves her place on stage.

In Focus


Outstanding violinist, Charlotte Spruit has performed chamber works with acclaimed musicians including Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Tabea Zimmermann, Lawrence Power, and Christian Tetzlaff. She has also made her debuts at the Concertgebouw in the Netherlands, the Wigmore Hall in London and at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

In a first for Smorgaschord, Charlotte will present a concert almost entirely devoted to Baroque music—something of a specialism for her. While planning the festival we felt that within a day almost entirely devoted to the new, the opportunity to step back and listen to music from hundreds of years ago would provide a beautiful juxtaposition.


Continuing a thread that we begun in 2023 with Kurtág’s Zwiegespräch, we present this year a concert entirely devoted to electronic music.

This year sees Mark Simpson collaborate with Phil Dawson to perform four works for clarinet and electronics, three of which were written specifically for Mark. Each piece is radically different. Zoë Martlew’s Atma the foggy, semi-transparent imagery of James McNeill Whistler’s seascapes as its starting point, while Phil Cashian Volvelles turns to Renaissance wheel charts for its inspiration.

Mark’s own piece is a tribute to the poetry of Henry Michaux, but it is also a real joy to present music by Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012) at Smorgaschord for the first time. A composer of immense depth and originality, Harvey was surely one of the most distinctive of recent British composers. Fascinated by all things, ranging from the tiniest details of sound itself to Buddhist philosophy and the soundscapes of Tibet, Harvey’s Ricecare Una Melodia will surely be one of the day’s many highlights.

5 xxx. Photo by xxx

22nd June


1 - 2pm Christ Church Chapter House

Zoë Martlew Atma

Phil Cashian Volvelles

Jonathan Harvey Ricecare Una Melodia

Mark Simpson Darkness Moves

Mark Simpson, clarinet

Phil Dawson, electronics

Smorgaschord 2024 begins with a bang!

Mark Simpson, one of the UK’s most exceptional musicians, presents a concert of music for clarinet and electronics that will beguile as much as it will delight. The concert features music by British composers written in the past 40 years, and it will be fascinating to explore the musical diversity of their work.

In the first of two pieces of Mark’s that he is playing at Smorgaschord this year, Darkness Moves is an evocation of the ‘visceral, oftentimes frightening’ world of French poet Henri Michaux.


4 - 5pm Christ Church Chapter House

Johann Sebastian Bach | Johann Georg Pisendel

Sonata for violin and continuo in C minor BWV 1024

Johann Paul von Westhoff Sonata for Solo violin in A minor

Lawson Lawall Responses to Westhoff's Sonata for solo violin in A minor (2022)

Johann Georg Pisendel Sonata for violin and continuo in G minor

Charlotte Spruit, Baroque violin

Tom Foster, harpsichord

A first for Smorgaschord: a concert of (almost) all Baroque music! Award-winning violinist Charlotte Spruit presents a concert exploring the wonders of the German Baroque. Charlotte will be accompanied by the harpsichordist Tom Foster, and it will be a joy to experience such exceptional musicianship within the intimate surroundings of the Chapter House.

Smorgaschord being Smorgaschord, wouldn't let Charlotte play without there being at least something new! Very excitingly, she will perform responses to the Westhoff by the young composer Lawson Lawall, written especially for her in 2022.

22nd June

22nd June


6.30pm Christ Church Cloisters

An opportunity for artists and audience to come together over a delicious feast of Middle Eastern food made for us by Damascus Rose Kitchen, an Oxford-based social enterprise for Arabic-speaking refugee women.

Damascus Rose Kitchen’s story began with a few refugee women based in Oxford, who decided to unite and share their culture by preparing Middle Eastern dishes for their community. In doing so, they were able to preserve a part of the story and identity that they had to leave behind.

22nd June


8pm Christ Church Cathedal

Mark Simpson Ariel Olivier Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Mark Simpson , clarinet Juliette Roos , violin

Eliza Millett , cello

Jo Havlat , piano

To close our festival, we return to a work close to Smorgaschord’s heart. It was, after all, with Messiaen’s transcendental Quartet for the End of Time that we started our Smorgaschord journey back in 2021. For this performance, we are thrilled to have an absolutely stellar line up with some of the most exciting musicians in the UK. To precede, Mark Simpson’s Ariel with the composer himself playing.



Tickets will be available for general booking on 19 April at 12 noon.

Tickets will be sold through Eventbrite.

Passes & Tickets

Festival Pass | £45 | Student Pass | £15

Access to all events.

Supper + Messiaen

Access to Damascus Rose Kitchen and Quartet for the End of Time only

General £28 | Student £10

Darkness Moves: Mark Simpson

General £15 | Student £5

Charlotte Spruit Recital

General £15 | Student £5

Quartet for the End of Time

General £18 | Student £6

We want a bright future!

Following the severe cuts to central and local funding, Brexit and the pandemic, the arts in the UK are in significant crisis.

The effects can be seen across the entire industry, and it is increasingly difficult for organisations like ours to operate. The work we do is necessary. We need to challenge the status quo, finding new, bolder ways of presenting the art norms we cherish so much.

Run by just two dedicated musicians, Smorgaschord is completely reliant on your support, our dear audience. We have learnt quickly how to make the most out of little.

We would appreciate it if you can help in any way you can!


Champion the new and creative by becoming a Smorgaschord Patron! Being a Patron costs just £100, money which will go directly into paying the artists for the festival. Of the many benefits, you will receive:

- Priority booking

- Open rehearsal access

- Exclusive behind-the-scenes content

- Acknowledgements in our programmes

Should you wish to donate more, we would be thrilled to talk to you about what you would like to support. Our plans for the future include a series of commissions celebrating György Kurtág’s 100th birthday (in partnership with New Zealand’s At the World’s Edge Festival), and a focus on Australian Indigenous art. These projects will be multi-year and will culminate in the creation of new works, films and recordings. Every penny of your support will help bring this important work about.

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