The 2012 Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts brings a full and varied programme of outstanding live events to venues throughout the City from 4 – 20 October. There is a veritable feast of the arts with the finest of symphony orchestras; piano, song, organ and choral recitals; jazz; opera; drama; classical and contemporary dance; animation; lectures; visual art and a schools outreach project. Truly something for all tastes and ages.
Three superb orchestras will play at Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall. On 6 October the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes – who celebrates his 70th birthday this year – will feature works by Vaughan Williams and Daniel Jones with Elgar’s Cello Concerto performed by celebrated cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.
Celebrating their 80th anniversary this year, the London Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Vassily Sinaisky with outstanding young violinist Chloe Hanslip in a programme of Prokofiev, Mendelssohn and Sibelius on 13 October.
Bringing an exciting end to the Festival on 20 October, the ever-popular St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra with their eminent conductor Vladimir Altschiler, and featuring much-admired pianist Freddy Kempf, will perform works by Stravinsky, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky.
Brangwyn Hall is again the venue for the Festival’s four recitals. Both a pianist and composer – and winner of eight Gramophone Awards – Stephen Hough is widely regarded as one of the most important and distinctive pianists of his generation. His recital on 9 October will include the World Première of his own work Sonata No 2 (notturno luminoso), which is a commission from the Swansea Festival and Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham.
On 15 October another talented artist Wayne Marshall gives an organ recital. As well as being an internationally admired organist Wayne has a multi-faceted career as a conductor and concert pianist and is recognised for his work in music-theatre and his gift of improvisation.
Well-known to Swansea audiences, bass-baritone Neal Davies, accompanied by pianist James Southall, will perform songs by John Ireland, Ibert, Finzi, Schumann and Wolf. Past winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Lieder Prize, Newport born Neal is much In demand on both the
concert and opera stage where he excels in a wide-ranging repertoire. As well as the song recital on 16 October, Neal performs with WNO as Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte on 12 October.
On 19 October, the BBC Singers, with their conductor David Hill and organist Iain Farrington, perform Power and Glory: Music for the Royal Court, a compilation of choral music, written for key royal occasions throughout five centuries, which they present in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Formed in 1924 the BBC Singers perform all over the UK and abroad and can claim Peter Pears as a former member.
Welsh National Opera perform three operas between 10 and 13 October. Handel’s Jephtha, a story of almost unbearable pathos with sublime music, features Robert Murray in the title role of the distraught father caught in a terrible trap. Diana Montague is his wife Storge and Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn is their daughter Iphis. Fflur appeared at the opening ceremony of the National Eisteddfod last year before going to Mexico City Opera to sing the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, and then performing with Côrdydd at last year’s Festival.
Puccini’s much-loved La bohème is an exciting new production by Annabel Arden which is set in the elegance of Edwardian Paris and features Giselle Allen as the tragic Mimi, Alex Vicens as her lover Rodolfo and popular Welsh baritone David Kempster as Marcello. Mozart’s Così fan tutte – a story of fickle young love – features Elizabeth Watts as Fiordiligi and Cora Burggraff as Dorabella, the two girls whose loyalty is tested by their sailor fiancées.
Jazz is provided by the Darius Brubeck Quartet in A Kind of Brubeck. Darius Brubeck is the eldest of jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s sons and is as cultured a pianist as his famous father. Playing consistently to sold-out houses – including London’s Ronnie Scott’s – the quartet’s acoustic sound is melodic and rhythmically exciting.
Dance comes in two forms. Portugese choreographer Arthur Pita has created a full-length theatre piece, God’s Garden, based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. Portugese fado music is one of the highlights of this contemporary dance/drama which is performed by a dynamic cast of six on 4 October. Traditional ballet is performed on 20 October with Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty from the Russian State Ballet and Opera House .
On 18 October Tara Arts presents the drama Uprising by Alex Wheatle, while Cartoons in Concert is performed at the National Waterfront Museum following the opening of their exhibition Animated Wales. Nine short silent animated films from the 1920’s will be shown with live instrumental accompaniment by Welsh composer John Rea – including three films receiving first performances – and introduced by Paul Islwyn Thomas, Former Head of Music & Arts, BBC Wales..
Sadly there will be no Festival next year. With Swansea’s own jewel in the crown of the City – the Brangwyn Hall – undergoing extensive refurbishment and restoration during 2013, the main venue for the Festival’s orchestral and recital concerts will be unavailable, so do make sure to visit your favourite event this autumn and then plan for an exciting Festival returning with a ‘bang’ in 2014 when we will be back presenting a full programme of thrilling events you will not want to miss.
Full details are available on the Festival website www.swanseafestival.org with box offices open from 30 July 2012.