Chester will be the venue of big names and firsts this summer.
That was the proud boast of artistic director Andrew Cornall as he launched this year’s Chester Summer Music Festival.
He said: “This year Chester is packed full of international superstars and is the must-see music festival in the UK this year.
“There really is something for everyone within the programme, from jazz with Richard Rodney Bennet to UK firsts with tenThing Brassensemble.”
Chester Summer Music Festival has a strong theme of celebrating the voice and throughout every year’s programmes you will find major choral concerts from international and nationally known artists.
There are many outstanding choral events this year:
The King’s Singers make an appearance with a concert entitled Will You Won’t You Join the Dance?. It is an entertaining exploration of music inspired by dance over the centuries, from Benjamin Britten’s Choral Dances to Gyorgy Ligeti’s The Lobster Quadrille.
Richard Rodney Bennet and Claire Martin present a new cabaret show. Celebrating Richard’s 75th birthday, the show has classy arrangements of classics including Let’s Face The Music And Dance, How Deep Is The Ocean, What’ll I Do?, Cheek To Cheek and Let Yourself Go.
Another choral highlight is the Gabrieli Consort joining the festival on Thursday, July 7, in the atmospheric surroundings of Chester Cathedral for a spine- tingling performance of Bryd’s The Great Mass. After travelling all the European music festivals, the singers will provide a rare treat for Chester and this will be the first northern preview of their programme By Morning Glow and Evening Shade.
The final big choral event will be the Chester Festival Chorus along with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Closing the festival on July 16, they will be singing Vaughan Williams’s Five Tudor Portraits, a rare opportunity to witness this choral extravaganza, which performs under the baton of John Wilson. The orchestra will also perform Walton’s Crown Imperial (first performed at the coronation of King George VI) in the setting of the cathedral. The Chester Festival Chorus has a long history and is one of the few choirs that exist in this format within festivals. It is a unique opportunity for amateur singers to work with and perform with national and international professional musicians and, as is tradition, they will close the festival.
The Big Sing interactive community event returns for its fourth year and is growing in stature and size, so much so it will be spread across the weekend of July 2-3. More than 20 choirs from across the region will descend on Chester city centre and bring the streets alive. This year there is a chance to join in the singing with Big Sing Eve – Musical Sing-a-long at Chester Town Hall on Sunday, July 3, when anyone can go along and join with hits from the musicals.
As well as the choral theme which threads through the festival, the violin will be celebrated in style with international performers such as:
Violinist Ruth Palmer will be continuing the Hidden Acoustics project in Chester with performances at the water tower (located on Chester Walls), Chester Town Hall and the Chapter House in Chester Cathedral, all stunning locations with stunning acoustics, all performed on the same day.
Pavel Sporcl will introduce a folk element to the festival as he invites Roman Stilo (a Slovak cimbalom ensemble) to play songs from their latest album, Gipsy Way.
Festival favourite Kathryn Stott returns to the city and will accompany The Doric String Quartet. They are described as the most powerful, passionate and precise quartets of the younger generation.
Classical Brits 2010 award winner Jack Liebeck will also be featured. Jack is already enjoying a fantastic career and this is an opportunity to see him in the intimate setting of the Assembly Rooms at Chester Town Hall.
Other festival highlights include:
International superstar Stefano Bolani will open the festival with a concert in Chester Town Hall’s Assembly Rooms, where he will play his own music in his usual eclectic style. Stefano regularly plays to stadiums of 10,000 so this intimate concert will reveal more about the man behind the music.
4 Girls 4 Harps – The quartet brings everything to life, showing the diversity of the instrument, making sure you’ll take home a completely different view of the harp by the end of the evening.
One of the UK’s new folk singer songwriters, Emily Portman Trio, will also perform at St Mary’s centre.
A UK concert first will take place with the appearance of tenThing Brassensemble with Tine Thing Helseth. This is an all-female brass ensemble from Norway who have already delighted audiences in Europe.
Tickets will be sold from Friday, April 1, and full brochures, including all dates, times and prices, can be downloaded at www.chesterfestivals.co.uk.