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The other Mendelssohn – Bath Spa University

Bath Spa students to perform music of ‘The Other Mendelssohn’ at FilmBath Festival

Wednesday, 25 October, 2023

Two Bath Spa music students will have the opportunity to wow audiences this week as they perform the music of Mendelssohn – but not the one you might be thinking of. 

Natalie Mills and Ruizhen Ma will perform live at the upcoming film screening of Fanny: The Other Mendelssohn, a documentary about the older sister of famous composer Felix Mendelssohn.  

Fanny Mendelssohn was a talented composer in her own right, but her work went largely unknown – though some of her pieces were published under Felix’s name – due to the prevailing belief of the time that a woman’s place was in the home, not the concert hall. 

The film is being shown at Widcombe Social Club in Bath as part of the FilmBath Festival. Natalie and Ruizhen will perform some of Fanny’s compositions in the downstairs bar area, allowing guests to settle in, enjoy a drink and experience her music before heading upstairs for the screening.  

Natalie, who is studying an MA in Music Performance, will be playing Fanny’s Fantasia in G Minor. Talking about her upcoming performance, Natalie said: 

“A Fantasia has an improvisatory undertone. There are three main sections, all varying in tempo and style, allowing for much freedom of expression and musicality, which I love! This composition has a huge scope for expression through the cello, which is such a wonderful instrument for conveying the beautiful styles of the Romantic era. 

“I’m so excited to be a part of this event! Being able to show just how wonderful Fanny Mendelssohn’s compositions are, knowing how little attention she, as a composer, received through this music, is incredible. I hope that the music we perform provides the audience with a further understanding of how this documentary is so important in creating awareness for more unknown composers.” 

FilmBath Festival Director Jasmine Barker, a Bath Spa graduate herself, contacted lecturers at Bath Spa to recruit student performers. She thought the subject matter would be of particular interest to music students and wanted to give them an opportunity to be involved. She said: 

“The documentary is all about the discovery of Felix Mendelssohn’s sister, Fanny. It’s an inspiring story that I thought music students would be interested in not only seeing, but also being involved in by performing before the screening. The audience are going to be in for a real treat, and I hope the performers enjoy the experience as well.” 

Fanny: The Other Mendelssohn is showing on Thursday 26 October at Widcombe Social Club in Bath. For more information about the performance and to book tickets, visit Bath Box Office.

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