The Lichfield Festival 2015: A Preview

With over 70 different events in ten days, the Lichfield Festival is one of Britain’s most eclectic multi-arts festivals, bringing together world-class national and international performers to the beautiful Staffordshire city from 3-12 July 2015.  From orchestral music to literature, theatre, dance and film, comedy, jazz, visual art, walks and family activities, the quality and range of events offers something for all ages and tastes. The 2015 Festival is the first for new Artistic Director, Sonia Stevenson. She has built her first Lichfield Festival around the twin themes of landscapes and journeys.

 There are new forays into opera with a specially-commissioned adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute by Anthony Kraus. This will be heard in Zemlinsky’s two-piano arrangement, with new narration from acclaimed author Janice Galloway linking the scenes and arias. This will open the Festival on Friday 3 July.

 David Matthews is composer in residence with two world premieres performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Toward Sunrise) (8 July) and  Ex Cathedra (a new choral work inspired by the dawn chorus) (9 July). His music will be played throughout the ten days.

 This year’s artists in residence are the Sacconi Quartet who will give a series of chamber music concerts including Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters in collaboration with Bellowhead’s Jon Boden.  The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will perform Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and there will be a series of Young Artist Recitals which also feature works by David Matthews.

 Jazz pianist and composer Gwilym Simcock will be joined by special guests guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel and Julian Argüelles (reeds). Author Michael Morpurgo will bring his novel The Mozart Question to life with actress Alison Reid and violinist Daniel Pioro. Ksenija Sidorova (accordion) and Kirill Burlov (dancer and choreographer) will give the UK premiere of their new project Tango Stories.  Other highlights include a series of talks from acclaimed authors including Wendy Cope, Philip Walling and Bill Oddie.  The Malachites, Shoreditch’s 5-star Shakespeare company, will perform Twelfth Night with a superb cast including BAFTA-nominated John McEnery as Feste

 This year sees the culmination of a three-year Festival community project Hear My Voice in which students from across the West Midlands perform their own compositions and choreography.  The project is part of the Festival’s ASPIRE learning and participation programme which engages 4,000 people throughout the year and includes a Young Composer’s Award to write a song for the Hear My Voice concert, a young critics’ scheme and newly-formed youth board who will create and deliver an event.

 Lichfield Festival runs from 3-12 July 2015 and takes place in venues around Lichfield, including the Cathedral, Garrick Theatre and local churches.

 General booking opens 11am on Tuesday 21 April.  Tickets and information from  Box Office 01543 412121

John Quinn


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