Northampton’s 13th Malcolm Arnold Festival – 13 to 14 October 2018


‘The Consummate Communicator’ is the theme of the 13th Malcolm Arnold Festival, 13th – 14th October 2018; an annual weekend packed with live music, films and talks on this multi-faceted composer and his music, and taking place in the composer’s birthplace, Northampton, at the town’s dedicated arts’ venue Royal & Derngate.  

Launching the Festival this year, which includes music from the worlds of ballet, cinema, television and radio, opera, brass band and the concert hall, will be HM Lord-Lieutenant for Northamptonshire and Pro-Chancellor of Northampton University, David Laing.

‘Malcolm Arnold’s music speaks to his audiences with a directness very few other 20thCentury composers have managed to achieve’, explains Director of the festival, Paul Harris. ‘He was “The Consummate Communicator” of our headline title this year, and considered himself very much the peoples’ composer.’

Gala Concert to feature the BBC Concert Orchestra

The festival’s Gala concert on Sunday 14th October features the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by their Chief Guest Conductor, Keith Lockhart.  Their colourful programme has an American flavour, acknowledging Leonard Bernstein’s centenary this year with a performance of his ever-popular classic, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story – a work that much inspired Malcolm Arnold, and a welcome return visit from Julian Bliss who will be the soloist in Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto and Arnold’s witty and virtuosic Scherzetto.  Malcolm Arnold’s Symphony No.4 brings the festival to a close in spectacular style with the exotic colour of Caribbean rhythms by way of marimba, bongos and tom toms, and demonstrating why classical music can be the most exhilarating experience in what is one of the composer’s most tantalising and exuberant symphonic scores.

Family concert and young performers open the show

The festival’s Family Concert this year features Hilary Davan Wetton conducting the Malcolm Arnold Festival Strings in a popular and accessible programme to include Malcolm Arnold’s Recorder Concerto, with soloist Tabea Debus, and a new work, Song of the Red Kite by Timothy Bowers for recorder soloist, young recorder players and strings.

Return visitors to the festival will be the Rushden Town Band and the acclaimed Northampton County Youth Orchestra, who will feature some of Arnold’s most popular works from stage and screen, to include the Roots of Heaven Overture, Sweeney Todd Ballet Suite, the Inn of the Sixth Happiness and the ever-popular English Dances.  Other highlights include the composer’s complete woodwind and brass Fantasies

This year’s roster of guest speakers include David Mellor, who campaigned to obtain the composer his knighthood, festival regular and local broadcaster, John Griff with a talk on ‘Forgotten TV and Radio’, and Timothy Bowers who will be introducing Malcolm Arnold’s one-act opera The Dancing Master, prior to a rare concert performance performed by a group of some of today’s most renowned young singers and conducted by John Andrews.

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