The Minerva Festival is a city-wide celebration of music composed by women and non-binary people. Now in its second year, it started life as Cambridge Female Composers Festival, founded by a group of students from Cambridge University to highlight the work of women composers. The Festival’s name change for 2020 reflects both a desire to be more inclusive and a commitment to supporting the musical work of women and non-binary people.
In a varied programme, the recital series offers several events each week at colleges, churches and Kettle’s Yard, showcasing a broad range of instruments and music styles including musical theatre and jazz at Bar Nights, recorder and viola recitals as well as song. You’ll find services of Evensong and Compline in beautiful College chapels while King’s College Chapel will host a Sequence of Music and Readings for International Women’s Day.
There’s a workshop on the use of computer coding and electronics in live performance, talks on female composers and a panel discussion with stakeholders in the Cambridge music scene who’ll look at studying women in music and performance of their work.
The Minerva Festival’s Composition Competition is open to students and recent graduates of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin universities. Women and non-binary composers are invited to submit a new a cappella choral work. Shortlisted entries will be workshopped by choral scholars and judged by a panel of leading female composers including Judith Weir and Deborah Pritchard. The winning composer will receive a cash prize of £100 and their work will be premiered in the International Women’s Day Concert on 8 March.
This International Women’s Day Concert will also feature a range of works by women and non-binary composers. Held in the stunning Chapel of Trinity College, with a pre-concert talk at Heffers, proceeds from ticket sales and a retiring collection will go to Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre which offers support to women and girls who have experienced rape, childhood sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence. Last year, the Festival raised just over £1600 for this amazing organisation, which is dependent on such donations to keep their essential services running.
The Minerva Festival runs from 25 January to 9 March. Details of the full programme are on their website, all events (except the International Women’s Day Concert) are free to attend and everybody is welcome.
Me and my husband, we’re like Jack Sprat and his wife … he only drinks coffee and I only drink tea. One of our favourite pit stops in the city is Bould Brothers Coffee and now that they’ve just opened their second cafe, I think it’s high time I told their story. So I went to meet Max, drink tea and find out how these brothers got into the coffee business.
Just 13 months apart in age, Alex and Max grew up in Chester and both went to Leeds University. In fact, it was at the uni Open Day that they came across a pop up stall serving stunning coffee with different flavour profiles. The brothers were hooked and determined to recreate this amazing coffee. That summer, they had the opportunity to do exactly that as they completely turned around the coffee offering and fortunes of a sandwich shop in Chester. The duo continued to hone their barista skills during uni holidays and Max went on to work at a high end coffee shop in Leeds, all the while building up contacts within the world of coffee.
Once they’d both graduated, Alex and Max headed to London and corporate jobs, eventually deciding to merge their business experience with their coffee know how to start up a really special coffee shop, a social, buzzy place where they could create a high quality experience that’s valuable beyond just the drink. “Even if they can only pop in briefly, we want people to feel that they’ve had a five minute luxury mini-break” Max tells me.
That ambition and ethos means the Bould Brothers don’t cut corners. Their bespoke, single origin house coffee is roasted by Colonna Coffee. The coffee menu changes every four months as the seasons change, with guest coffees sourced from the UK and Europe. A range of six teas includes black, green and white tea as well as fruit infusions. Milk is organic and textured to 60 degrees to break down sugars and fats, making it sweet and creamy. And our hard Cambridge water is filtered and purified through their eco friendly system then optimally remineralised to extract the best flavour from tea and coffee.
The simple but delicious food selection includes croissants, sandwiches, cakes and stunning glossy tartlets made by a pastry chef who honed her skills at a Michelin starred restaurant in France.
Alex and Max opened their first tiny coffee shop opposite The Round Church. They worked hard to refit the space and opened on New Year’s Eve 2016 with just the two of them working seven days a week. From the start, the business surpassed their expectations and it wasn’t long before they were able to start building a team around them. This small but perfectly formed cafe soon attracted press interest too … they’ve been featured in Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller Magazine, have won many plaudits and have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Small-Mid Enterprise Business Awards.
In December 2019, Alex and Max opened their second cafe at the other end of town, on Regent Street. It’s a larger space which they have renovated stylishly … you’ll find comfortable seating upholstered in gorgeous fabrics, statement lighting, modern art on the walls and serving bars designed by them and custom made from an unusual grained granite. The space at the front of the cafe is light and bright with tables and window seating so you can watch the world go by while the garden room at the back has a more classic look and feel with marble flooring and a circular communal table.
The Bould Brothers have come a long way in just three years and have created two really special havens for the city’s tea and coffee lovers. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
As I compile this listing, we are in that beautiful lull between Christmas and New Year when you don’t quite know what day it is and meals are a smorgasbord of leftovers from the fridge. It’ll be time to get fully functional again soon enough and to help us out of hibernation, there’s lots going on in the city as we welcome in a new decade. I’ll update this listing through the month so do check back sometimes and let me know if you’d like your event to be included. Happy New Year to all!!
4th 10am – 1pm Family Saturday: Crazy Cone Creations. Use twigs, paint and wire to make a crazy cone work of art. Drop in event, no need to book. Botanic Garden, Brookside. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
4th 2 – 4pm Family First Saturday: Marvellous Mythology. Fun activities and art making. Free. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
6th 7.30pm An Orthodox Christmas Wassail with Chela and Buska, the Cambridge Georgian choirs. Jesus College Chapel. Free entry with retiring collection for Georgian charities.
11th 5 – 8pm True Tales for Change. The Cambridge Commons raises awareness of and tackles inequality in Cambridge. In collaboration with Pivotal, they have commissioned five local artists and a songwriter to create works inspired by conversations with Cambridge people who have experienced inequality. Public exhibition continues 12 and 13 January. The Escape Community Space, The Grafton Centre. FB True Tales For Change
12th 12 – 4pm Studio Sunday. Practical art making workshops, no experience necessary. Free, drop in. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
12th 4.30 – 6pm Free Singing Workshop with Cambridge Jazz Festival Choir, a community vocal group singing jazz, soul, gospel and more. No auditions, no need to read music as songs are learned by ear. St Matthew’s Primary School, Norfolk Street, CB2 FB: Free Singing Workshop with the Cambridge Jazz Festival Choir
14th 2 – 4pm Tour for blind and partially sighted adults: Fantastic Fans. Go behind the scenes with a conservator for a rare opportunity to touch a variety of fans from the collection. Guide dogs and companions welcome. Free but booking essential by email to email@example.com Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
14th 7.30 – 8.45pm Going It Alone: the new breed of writer/independent publisher. Author Sue Grossey tells us what it’s really like to be your own researcher, writer, designer, editor, publisher and marketing department. Milton Road Library, Ascham Road. http://www.friendsofmiltonroadlibrary.org.uk
14th 7.30 – 9pm Mackays – the history of a local store. Talk from Duncan Mackay describing exciting projects and turbulent times for one of Cambridge’s favourite family businesses. Ross Street Community Centre, Ross Street. http://www.millroadhistorysociety.org.uk
15th 1.15 – 2pm “To eat or not to eat”: Vegetarianism and veganism in Europe, 1500 – 1800. A talk with Dr Melissa Calaresu, “Feast & Fast” exhibition co-curator. Free. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
16th 7.30pm (doors and bar from 6.30pm) January Jazz: Sirkis/Bialas International Qt. Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar, Granta Place. http://www.cambridgejazz.org
18th 12 – 4pm The Eddington ‘Feel Good’ Festival. Free activities to help you relax and unwind including yoga, meditation, barre ballet, dance sessions, health talks plus a chill out area with free refreshments from Eddie’s Cafe. Free event, booking essential. Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington http://www.eddington-cambridge.co.uk
18th 1 – 2pm British Sign Language exhibition and library tour. Join one of the exhibition curators for a guided tour of The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge exhibition, followed by an introductory tour of the wider University Library. BSL interpretation provided by the Cambridge Deaf Association. Free, suitable for all ages, under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult. Booking required by email to firstname.lastname@example.org Cambridge University Library, West Road
18th 2 – 5.30pm Literature Cambridge Study Day on Toni Morrison’s great novel “Beloved” (1987), a powerful account of the traumatic effects of slavery. Two lectures and a round-table seminar. Stapleford Granary, CB22 http://www.literaturecambridge.co.uk
18th 2pm and 4pm My Musical Magical Hat. Family concert for age 5+. How do you choose which musical instrument to play? Do you choose it or does it choose you? Find out as Tim, Ruth and the Cambridge Phil reach into the world of the magical musical hat. Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra. West Road Concert Hall. http://www.cambridgephilharmonic.com
19th 1 – 4pm Reflections on Homelands/Alternative Symposium. Reflect on the themes and ideas of Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. An informal afternoon with introductions to the exhibition and displays, a practical art workshop which will explore the nature of home and displacement plus a conversation to share personal stories and experiences. Free, all ages. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
21st 2 – 4pm Tour for blind and partially sighted adults: Fantastic Fans. Go behind the scenes with a conservator for a rare opportunity to touch a variety of fans from the collection. Guide dogs and companions welcome. Free but booking essential by email to email@example.com Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
25th 10.30am – 4pm Kettle’s Yard Welcome Day. Discover your local gallery with a day of mini programme highlights: tours, talks and workshops for those new to Kettle’s Yard. Also with British Sign Language and audio described introductions. Free, all ages, drop in. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
26th 12 – 4pm Studio Sunday. Practical art making workshops, no experience necessary. Free, drop in. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
26th 7.30pm Sinfonia of Cambridge with St John’s College School Chamber Choirs. Respighi, Vaughan Williams, Tchaikovsky. West Road Concert Hall. http://www.adcticketing.com
30th 5 – 9pm LATE: Food, Faith and Wellbeing. Panel discussion on the role of fasting in religion, talk from Wintercomfort on food and homelessness, poetry reading, 30 minute meditation session and a cacao ceremony. The Cafe Health and Wellbeing menu includes non-alcoholic drinks and vegan food. Free, booking required. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
30th 5.30 – 7pm As is your due: 50th anniversary of women’s admission to the University. Talk and film recording the 50th anniversary celebration of women’s admission to the University of Cambridge, when in 1998 more than 800 women who matriculated before 1948 returned to Senate House to collect their degrees retrospectively. Documentary followed by a Q&A with director, Lucy Thane. Booking essential. Cambridge University Library, West Road http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk
30th 7.30pm (doors and bar from 6.30pm). January Jazz: Clovis Nicolas/Steve Fishwick Qt. Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar, Granta Place. http://www.cambridgejazz.org
31st 7.30 – 9pm Zoology Late: Acoustic Spaces/Threatened Places. A programme of music with University of Cambridge New Music Group. Booked required. Museum of Zoology, Downing Street. http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk
What will you be doing on New Year’s Day?? Some of us will be lacing up shiny new trainers and embarking on a fitness regime, some of us will be loafing on the sofa, picking through the remnants of the Quality Street tin. For the homeless, New Year’s Day is the hardest day of the year rather than the optimistic new start that we all hope for. It’s a bleak, cold and lonely day to be endured, with day centres and other support networks shut.
Nish Manek is working hard to make New Year’s Day better for the city’s homeless. She’s a junior doctor who volunteered for some shifts with Cambridge Churches Homeless Project where she met Johnny Cunningham who told her how hard it is to bring in a New Year alone in the cold. The conversations she had with Johnny stuck with Nish who believes that in this city where there is such inequality, we could and should do better. Very sadly, Johnny passed away on the streets of Cambridge later that year. He was just 63.
With four weeks to go to New Year’s Day 2019, Nish launched The Big Brunch. She raised £1000 through an appeal and arranged for Tesco and Waitrose to donate food. The response was immediate and overwhelming with plenty of people volunteering to help on the day while others donated food and clothes. A barber stepped up after a last minute appeal on social media so free haircuts were on offer. There was music and singing and a fabulous social atmosphere as homeless and volunteers chatted and shared a hot meal together.
Now another New Year’s Day is almost upon us and The Big Brunch 2020 will be happening at St Andrew the Great Church in St Andrew’s Street from 11.30am – 3pm. As well as a warm welcome and a hot meal, each homeless guest will receive a £10 Post Office voucher plus hand and foot warmers. There’ll be music and singing, haircuts and clothes, warmth and laughter.
Nish has created this event out of a deep compassion for the plight of our city’s homeless and she is inspired by Gregory Boyle’s words, “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe of what the poor have to carry, rather than stand in judgement of how they carry it.” She tells me that the event is as rewarding for the volunteers (many of whom have never worked with the homeless before) as it is for the guests and she’d love to see The Big Brunch replicated in other cities.
So just like that, December is here … the city is looking even more gorgeous than usual with lights twinkling and decorations everywhere. Read on for details of all types of Christmas music and services, shopping events where you’ll find those perfect handmade presents, seasonal celebrations and activities in our wonderful museums and much more. I’ll update this listing through the month so do check back and please get in touch if you’d like me to include your event.
1st 12 noon – 4pm Museum Shop Sunday. Stalls from local suppliers including jewellery, glasswork and pottery. Mulled wine and mince pies. Free, drop in. Museum of Cambridge, Castle Street. http://www.museumofcambridge.org.uk
1st 12 noon – 4pm Studio Sunday. Practical art making workshops, no experience necessary. Free, drop in. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
1st 1.15 – 2pm Cambridge University Instrumental Award Holders – a performance by the very best undergraduate chamber musicians. Free. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
1st 6.30pm Winter Cabaret. A seasonal mix of jazzy, sassy, jingly and soulful songs and music from The Lucy Cavendish Singers. Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington. http://www.lucycavendishsingers.org.uk
4th 5 – 8pm Rowan’s Winter Warmer. A festive evening where you can buy handmade gifts and cards, commission artwork and get involved in Christmas workshops. Live music, mulled wine and mince pies. Free entry. Rowan, 140 Humberstone Road, CB4 http://www.rowanhumberstone.co.uk
5th 6.30pm Murder under the Mistletoe. Heffers’ Christmas Crime Party. Festive drinks, book buying and readings from crime authors. 10% off purchases on the evening. Heffers, Trinity Street. http://www.heffersbookshop.eventbrite.com
7th 11.30am Bridging Binaries: LGBTQ+ Tour. Explore the spectrum of identities that exist across time, place and culture in Cambridge collections. Free. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
7th 1 – 1.30pm Come and Sing Carols. An informal, friendly “come and sing” carolling session for shoppers, friends and visitors. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade
7th 2 – 4pm Family First Saturday. Activities and art making on the theme of festive fun. Free, drop in. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
7th 4 – 5pm Blue Christmas. A service of jazz and prayer for everyone who doesn’t find the holidays so happy. Michaelhouse Chapel, Trinity Street
7th 7pm Messiah by Candlelight. Eboracum Baroque. A charity concert in aid of Cancer Research. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade. http://www.eboracumbaroque.co.uk
8th 7.30pm Christmas Orchestral and Choral Concert. Dvorak, Mendelssohn and Czech Christmas music. The Academy of Great St Mary’s. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade. http://www.adcticketing.com
8th 7.30pm Messiah. Choir of Clare College with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Trinity College Chapel. http://www.adcticketing.com
9th 7.45pm Brokenness, compassion and identity in rehabilitation after brain injury. Speaker: Dr Andrew Bateman. Part of the Science meets Faith series. Free admission, retiring collection. Wesley Church, Christ’s Pieces
12th 7.30pm Music for an English Advent: Gabriel’s Message. Carols and estampies from medieval England. Mediva Ensemble. Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street. http://www.CambridgeEarlyMusic.org
12th 8pm A Winter Union. Five leading lights of the British roots scene present an evening of seasonal songs, new and old. Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington. http://www.cambridgelive.org.uk
13th 7.30pm – 2.30am Reach Up Disco Wonderland with DJ Andy Smith and XL Records founder Nick Halkes. 2648 Bar, Trinity Street. https://skdl.co/kFnLqa45X0
13 – 14th 7.30pm A Christmas Carol. Adapted and performed by Martin Prest in a one man show. The Leper Chapel, Newmarket Road. Wrap up warm as the Chapel can be cold! http://www.adcticketing.com
15th 10am – 4pm Victorian Christmas Celebration. Family friendly Victorian Christmas day with craft activities, music, mince pies and more. Cambridge Museum of Technology, Cheddars Lane. http://www.museumoftechnology.com
15th 6.30 – 8pm Carols by Candlelight, accompanied by Cottenham Brass Band. Hosted by Cambridge Past, Present and Future. The Leper Chapel, Newmarket Road. Free event, donations appreciated. http://www.cambridgeppf.org
15th 8pm Music for Advent and Christmas. Josquin, Howells and carols for audience participation. Fairhaven Singers. Trinity College Chapel. http://www.fairhavensingers.org.uk
18th 1.15 – 2pm The Food of Christmas Past. A talk with Ivan Day, Feast & Fast food historian. Free. Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
19th 7 – 9pm Mindfulness around a Campfire – Winter Solstice celebration. Guided meditations, reflections, discussions, poetry, games and toasty pre Christmas treats around a campfire. Milton Country Park, CB24. Tickets from firstname.lastname@example.org
19th 7.30 – 10pm Light Up EACH Life Cambridge Concert. We Are Sound and Evelyn Glennie perform a selection of uplifting songs in celebration of the children and families cared for at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade. http://www.each.org.uk
20th 10.30am – 12.30pm GPS Christmas Treasure Hunt. Track down some special Christmas plants growing in the garden. A family activity. Booking essential. Botanic Garden, Brookside. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
20th 7.30pm Celebrate Christmas with John Rutter and Bach Choir Voices. Traditional carols and works by John Rutter. Our Lady and the English Martyrs Catholic Church, Hills Road http://www.cambridgesummermusic.com
22nd 4 – 5.15pm and 6.30 – 7.45pm Carols by Candlelight. A traditional candlelit service of lessons and carols at the University Church. Arrive early to be sure of a seat. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade
24th 4 – 5pm Christmas Eve Crib Service. Carols, bible stories and an impro Nativity. For children and their families. Come as you are or in Nativity fancy dress. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade
25th 11.15am – 12.15pm Christmas Day Choral Mattins. Favourite carols, beautiful music, scripture and story. Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade
A gigantic pineapple, resplendent on a bright pink plinth, has landed on the front lawn of The Fitzwilliam Museum. An installation by contemporary artists Bompas & Parr, this symbol of hospitality and welcome heralds the opening of Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800, a remarkable new exhibition celebrating the production, preparation and presentation of food, its consumption or rejection as well as its ideologies and identities.
This story of food is told through nearly three hundred objects, a beautifully curated mix of ceramics, paintings, textiles, books, glassware and magnificent Cambridge Renaissance silver tableware from two Cambridge colleges. Many of these artefacts were already held in the Fitzwilliam’s reserves and a number of paintings have been especially conserved for this exhibition, their bright colours singing out against the dark grey walls of the galleries.
Internationally renowned food historian Ivan Day has created three bespoke and historically accurate culinary recreations – a sugar banquet for an English renaissance wedding, an English 18th century confectioner’s shop window and workspace and a Baroque feasting table. These intricate recreations took my breath away. It was fascinating to hear Ivan speak about how he researched and made them, wherever possible using original moulds from his own collection, several of which are also on display.
If you like food, you’ll love this exhibition. We live in a world of supermarkets where we can pretty much get our hands on any type of food at any time of year. This exhibition reminds us that in days past, feasting and fasting were linked to the liturgical calendar as well as to seasonality (although many of the artists ignore seasonality in favour of portraying an abundant table in their paintings!). It presents food in a religious and moral context, as a display of wealth, status and power, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and even looks at its role in national stereotypes, politics and satire. And I learned that vegetarianism and veganism are nothing new … debates about the impact of these ways of eating on the body were happening back in the early modern period too.
The final room of the exhibition, painted bright pineapple yellow, is a creative zone where visitors can relax and respond to what they’ve seen. You’ll find contemporary cookery books alongside facsimiles of historical cookery books, scent boxes, objects to handle, a short film and activities for children as well as an opportunity to give your feedback.
Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800 opens on 26 November and runs until 26 April 2020. Don’t miss it!!
Now stay with me here because I know parking isn’t the most absorbing topic for a blog post BUT if you are planning to bring your car into Cambridge over the coming weekends, you are probably already dreading the massive queues for municipal car parks, not to mention the whopping dent that parking charges will make in your wallet. This Christmas, there is another way …..
The Rotary Club of Cambridge South is opening three University sites for car parking. They ask for a cash donation of £7 or more per car and last year raised over £33,000 from parking donations. This year, your donations will go to support Headway, Romsey Mill, Projects in Africa, Rotary Foundation, CamPod, University of Cambridge Veterinary School Trust and Winter Comfort, with smaller donations to other charitable projects.
Read on for the parking locations, dates and opening times!
Downing Site, Tennis Court Road, CB2
Saturday 23 and 30 November. 7, 14, 21 and 28 December. Entry from 8.30am
Sunday 24 November. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 December. Entry from 10am
Friday 27 and Monday 30 December. Entry from 8.30am
Exit by 7pm
Department of Chemistry, Lensfield Road, CB2
Saturday 23 and 30 November. 7, 14, 21 and 28 December. Entry from 10am
Sunday 24 November. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 December. Entry from 11am
Friday 27 and Monday 30 December. Entry from 10am
Exit by 5pm
Cambridge Assessment, Harvey Road, CB1
Saturday 23 and 30 November. 7, 14, 21 and 28 December. Entry from 9.30am
Friday 27 and Monday 30 December. Entry from 9.30am
Exit by 5pm
PLEASE NOTE THIS SITE IS NOT OPEN ON SUNDAYS
For further details of this festive car parking and for more on the Rotary Club of Cambridge South, check out their website.