A virtual seat for a galaxy of virtuosi

Top classical festivals are very expensive and difficult to get into. But, says Jessica Duchen, now a mouse-click may be all you need

Europe's elite classical music festivals do not, as a rule, come cheap. Many demand dizzying ticket prices; some are habitually so over-subscribed that it's nearly impossible to get in even if you can afford it. Now, though, you can beat financial pressure by sampling such events from the comfort of your home computer: some savvy organisations have set out to reach a wider audience for the events via webcasting.

The technology has made galloping progress since the first opera webcast in 1999 (from St Petersburg's Kirov, now the Mariinsky). The Berlin Philharmonic's pioneering, year-round Digital Concert Hall has set the bar high in terms of standard and many more orchestras and opera houses have since started dabbling with online streaming. Festivals are no exception; their webcasts are making rapid gains in both quality and quantity.

For them the advantages of webcasting are obvious. More viewers mean more potential attendees, while the ease of access dilutes any suggestion of elitism. Problems can spring up around copyright and high-quality production ratchets up the bills; but these issues will probably have to evolve with the times. Webcasting is clearly not just a bandwagon. In the future it may become de rigueur for everyone to offer at least a taster performance on the internet.

This summer there has already been considerable success for webcasts such as Fidelio from Munich's Opera Festival, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg from Glyndebourne, the Martha Argerich Project from Lugano and, at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, apparently the largest international webcast that has yet been attempted. Some ask a modest fee, others are completely free; here is a selection of the best.

Verbier Festival

Verbier, high in the Swiss Alps, is nearly as sought-after for summer music as it is for winter skiing. Its annual festival is at the top of the range when it comes to webcasting: this galactic conglomeration of stars streams all its concerts live with the web-based Medici TV. From 15 to 31 July you can log on to watch such luminaries as Martha Argerich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, René Pape, Leif Ove Andsnes and many more, in everything from solo piano and chamber music to a concert performance of Tosca starring Barbara Frittoli and Bryn Terfel. The webcasts can be enjoyed online for a month after the event and can also be viewed with Medici's iPhone app. Subscriptions to Medici TV start at €7.90 (£7) per month.

www.medici.tv

Bayreuth Festival

Wagner built his own opera house at Bayreuth with the ideal that his works should be available to everyone. But the theatre is rather small by today's standards; and so popular is this month-long annual celebration of the composer's operas that it's extremely difficult to get tickets – they're allocated annually by ballot – and pricey if you do. Now the festival has started to offer one annual webcast of a complete opera, thanks to sponsorship from Siemens.

This year it's Lohengrin on 14 August. The production is by Hans Neuenfels and stars Klaus Florian Vogt, Annette Dasch and Petra Lang, with Andris Nelsons conducting. Online "tickets" cost €14.90 (£13)and include "virtual entry" to the backstage area. The webcast is live but can be viewed on demand from 15 to 30 August.

Information and tickets: https://live.bfmedien.de/pre.html

Festival d'Aix-en-Provence

They still can't webcast the herb-laden flavour of the cheeses and sausages in the Provençal markets of Aix, the historic city that was home to the artist Paul Cézanne. But the town's delectable music festival, currently in full swing, webcasts a selection of its most exciting events, some live, some deferred by a day or two.

By logging in to Arte Live Web on Saturday you can see the great French soprano Natalie Dessay in the leading role of Verdi's La Traviata, a production by Jean-François Sivadier; the London Symphony Orchestra accompanies, conducted by Louis Langrée. Viewers can also sample groundbreaking contemporary music: on 15 July, the cycle L'Appel de l'Atlas by Andy Emler brings together French and Moroccan musicians, and on 18 July students of the Académie Européenne de Musique perform the world premiere of a new string quartet by Yann Robin.

More at www.festival-aix.com/fr/node/1358 and http://liveweb.arte.tv

George Enescu Festival and Competition, Bucharest

Romania may seem off the beaten track, but it doesn't want to stay that way. Its biennial George Enescu Festival, named after the country's most celebrated composer, is immensely ambitious, bringing to Bucharest some of the world's finest orchestras and soloists. The city, the 19th century's "Paris of the East", emerged poverty-stricken and desolate from the Ceaucescu era. Now it is reinventing itself as a major modern metropolis for eastern Europe.

"Streaming live events is very important for building an international audience and we are thrilled to be broadcasting a number of concerts on our website this September," says the festival's manager, Mihai Constantinescu. But he points out a potential stumbling block for the technology: "I am not sure whether webcasting is the future for the most high-profile orchestras and artists. It is very difficult to secure rights for live broadcast, as these artists tend to prefer deferred transmission, which we feature as excerpts on our website. Perhaps the way forward is to feature young artists who are more interested in building their profile and reaching a wide, international audience."

Prime among this year's live webcasts are the finals of the Enescu International Competition for pianists and violinists, plus the laureates' concert. The festival is also live-streaming its gala opening with the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague conducted by

Christian Badea on 1 September. www.festivalenescu.ro

Festival de Saint-Denis

One for anybody who loves Paris in sizzling summer, this magnificent festival takes place in the medieval Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis, six miles north of the French capital; its varied, vibrant programme attracts tens of thousands of spectators. This year's festival has just finished, but you can still attend its highlights via the video-on-demand website.

Concerts include Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the pianist Gabriela Montero, Britten's War Requiem conducted by Semyon Bychkov, a Latin American concert with the Quatuor Debussy and, perhaps most spectacular of all, Bach's St Matthew Passion conducted by John Nelson and featuring the German tenor Werner Güra as the Evangelist. This performance is also at Medici TV.

Log on at www.festival-saint-denis.com

Arts and Entertainment
The crowd enjoy Latitude Festival 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'

Is this the end of the Dowager Countess?tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn