Looking Forward to the Swansea International Festival 2016


United KingdomUnited Kingdom Swansea International Festival 2016 – (30 September – 15 October 2016)

sfi_logoSwansea International Festival expands its programme for 2016 to present over 30 diverse events in 16 days.  From the power of the immense Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra to the intimacy of the Brodsky Quartet and the exuberance of primary school children in creating their own interpretation of Roald Dahl’s work for Roald Dahl 100, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.

Several artists from the 2015 Festival will be returning this year by public demand.  Following their successful appearances at the Festival last year we are delighted to welcome back Michael Roach and the Buck Clayton Legacy Band for another amazing Swing Night, where you can dance the evening away in the beautiful Brangwyn Hall.  Also returning with another of their highly popular Family Concerts, BBC National Orchestra of Wales will again be providing a happy, friendly, inclusive fun evening for all.

The success last year of Minima, the leading band in live accompaniment to silent film screenings, sees them back this year with Lon Chaney’s 1925 classic The Phantom of the Opera, and following a dazzling solo recital last year, pianist Clare Hammond returns this year, along with oboist James Turnbull, in a Presteigne Festival Tour concert exploring music old and new which includes sonatas for oboe and piano by Francis Poulenc, Henri Dutilleux,  Robert Saxton, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade and Thomas Hyde.

Last year Sinfonia Cymru performed Quartet in Volcano and this year they will be taking you on a musical mystery tour around the Swansea Museum Collections Centre featuring a new piece of music for the Festival by a young Welsh composer, Gareth Moorcraft and Swansea-born writer Lydia White. Mal Pope will take to the Volcano to compere a showcase of some of Swansea’s brightest young musical talent in Later With Mal, and following Mal’s successful pocket musical, Cappuccino Girls, its sequel Cappuccino Girls II comes to Coast Café where we find the girls have moved on five years.

There are also, of course, many Festival first-timers and we are delighted to be welcoming them to Swansea.  Opening the first concert of the Festival is one of the UK’s leading historical performance ensembles, La Serenissima.  Fittingly for a group who specialize in the music of Vivaldi and his contemporaries they will be performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons along with works by Caldara, Albinoni and Torelli.   There is more exciting music is on offer from the brilliant Brodsky Quartet who enjoy a busy international performing schedule as well as a busy recording career. They will be playing Borodin’s Scherzo (from Les Vendredis) as well as music by Shostakovich, Bach, Mendelssohn and Beethoven.

Formed of young professional musicians from Wales who regularly play with some of the high profile British orchestras, Nidum Ensemble is a dynamic, diverse and innovative group.  Their performance will feature Grieg’s Holberg Suite ad Dvoŕák’s Serenade for Strings.

Llandeilo-born violinist, Rakhi Singh joins Polish-born accordionist Bartosz Glowacki to bring a unique showcase to the Festival.  Along with their guests, these inspiring and exceptionally talented young musicians, with their range of styles, envelop and combine the music of Welsh folk tunes, classical and baroque music, along with contemporary dance, to weave a worldwide musical tapestry.

Dance is explored a little further in the Festival when Ballet Cymru return presenting Prokofiev’s timeless Romeo and Juliet in tribute to Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary year.  A very different type of dance comes from the Aakash Odedra Dance who present a dance double bill:  Inked & Murmur: 2.0.  This award-winning company pushes the boundaries of dance in blending contemporary, Kathak and Bharat Natyam telling stories through movement.  Aakash Odedra is one of the most sought after dancers in the UK and Murmur 2.0 is a hugely moving show giving an honest view of the tribulations of living with dyslexia through visual design, light, sound and movement.

For a taste of something different why not join Elis John and James Robins when they leave the confines of the Radio X studios to bring their own special brand of humour live to Swansea audiences, or the different humour of the Unique Komedy Ukulele Orchestra who will certainly bring a smile to your face with their mix of music from the James Bond theme to Bohemian Rhapsody.  We Banjo3 is a multi-award winning band from Galway, Ireland comprised of two sets of brothers, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley who play a blend of traditional Irish, old time and bluegrass music on fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo.

Cyrill Ibrahim is a very talented young Dutch pianist who brings an exciting programme of Bach, Brahms, Debussy and Schumann to the Festival, while the celebrated British/Australian organist Joseph Nolan will come to Swansea on the first date of his World Tour, giving audiences the opportunity to hear Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm and Widor’s Symphony No 5 in F minor on the new Viscount organ of Swansea University’s Great Hall.

This year’s Friends Festival Lecture is given by the artistic director of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, David Jackson, who gives an illustrated lecture called Drama in Song – prior to Showcase by the Wales International Academy of Voice where some of the Academy’s most exciting young singers will appear in recital giving an exclusive opportunity to hear the voices of tomorrow.

If you would like to celebrate Shakespeare’s the 400th anniversary with something very special then take up Volcano Theatre Company’s invite to an open rehearsal and Q & A session to preview their new production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Last years’ Lunchtime Talks proved so successful that we are not only repeating them but increasing them. All of the talks begin at 1pm in either the Round Reading Room or the National Waterfront Museum.  The speakers will be Jen Wilson, Jazz Heritage Wales; Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales; Patrick Hannay, editor of Touchstone, Prof.Andrew Davies, Chair of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board; Christine James, of Swansea University and E. Wyn James of Cardiff University; poet Gillian Clarke; artist Robert Newell and Lyndon Jones, Artistic Director of Swansea International Festival.

As well as BBC NOW’s fun packed Family Concert, young Festival-goers have a treat when Blunderbus Theatre Company present Dotty the Dragon – ideal for 3-7 year olds.  Five local primary schools will have been working hard in workshops with artist Keith Bayliss and composer Stacey Blythe to create their own musical and artistic responses to Roald Dahl’s work, which they will present at the National Waterfront Museum in celebration of the centenary of the birth of one of Wales’s greatest literary heroes.

Following on from their Family Concert aimed at the young, BBC NOW’s second concert of the Festival will fittingly be to remember the tragedy that took place in Aberfan 50 years ago. With the BBC National Chorus of Wales, pianist Louis Lortie, soprano Fflur Wyn and baritone Neal Davies conducted by Siân Edwards, the concert will feature Piano Concerto No.2 by Saint-Saëns (a composer who lost his two sons in infancy), Ravel’s Pavane, Geraint Lewis’s The Souls of the Righteous and Fauré’s Requiem, along with a new work by brilliant young Welsh composer Joseph Davies with texts by Dr Rowan Williams – a commission by the Festival and BBC Radio 3.

The Festival finale is always an occasion to be savoured and this year is no exception with the illustrious Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra conducted by Denis Lotoev and featuring the outstanding 27 year-old Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov. One of Russia’s most prestigious orchestras will present a programme of their namesake, Tchaikovsky, to delight audiences with Francesca da Rimini, Piano Concerto No.1 in Bb minor and Symphony No.5 in F minor.  A truly appropriate and stirring event to bring the 2016 Swansea  International Festival to a close.

Of course the Festival also features the visual arts and this year there are exhibitions at three galleries. At the Mission Gallery on 30 September artists Jason & Becky will be in conversation discussing their current exhibition Viscositecture and reflecting on issues raised as part of the Gallery’s Civic project. Local artist and archivist Catrin Saran James, curates an exhibition at Galerie Simpson featuring a group of artists from across South Wales who explore the visual appeal and romanticisation of the not-so-pretty recent past and reflects on how it points the way towards our aesthetic and cultural future, while Carys Evans has her first solo exhibition featured at the Taliesin Arts Centre.  Carys uses oil, pastel and household emulsion, painting with cloth, sponge or her hands, as well as a brush, to produce her paintings of women, children and the domestic and every-day.

Along with Live Music Now again taking the Festival to schools, hospitals, residential homes, community centres and centres for people with learning difficulties, there is so much entertainment, education and information packed into just two weeks that you will be spoilt for choice.

Full details are available on the Festival website www.swanseafestival.org with box offices open from 5 July 2016.  A Festival Diary is available free of charge from admin@swanseafestival.org


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