A look ahead to Lichfield Festival 2016

Lichfield Festival 2016

Lichfield Festival 2016 - Credit: Archant

A packed programme of music, film, theatre, comedy, dance, family events, visual arts and talks marks this year’s Lichfield Festival (1st-10th July)

Lichfield Festival 2016

Lichfield Festival 2016 - Credit: Archant

A packed programme of music, film, theatre, comedy, dance, family events, visual arts and talks marks this year’s Lichfield Festival (1st-10th July). One of the most eclectic multi-arts festivals in the UK, Lichfield Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary bringing together world-class musicians, actors and entertainers for a 10-day takeover of the beautiful Staffordshire city. Visitors include BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Ballet Cymru and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, comedian Susan Calman, film critic Mark Kermode and singers Kate Rusby and Claire Martin. There are world premieres from composer in residence, Deborah Pritchard, and a specially-commissioned production of Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte. Other highlights include a light show projection on the Cathedral walls, ragdoll trail across the city and festival fete.

The Festival’s opening night (Friday 1 July) falls on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, and 1916 and the First World War centenary is a theme explored throughout the Festival. But there’s also a look at the lighter side of popular entertainment of the time, from music halls and cabaret to the burgeoning medium of film.

Deborah Pritchard is this year’s highly-talented composer in residence, in partnership with Sound and Music’s Embedded programme, and the Festival’s opening night includes the premieres of her World War One themed choral work, We Will Remember Them, and trumpet concerto Seven Halts on The Somme with renowned trumpet soloist Tine Thing Helseth, Manchester Camerata and conductor Ben Gernon. Deborah’s music features throughout the Young Artists recital series and in her work with students to create the Last Post Fanfares, heralding the Festival across the city and at key memorial sites.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Martyn Brabbins give the closing Cathedral concert, with Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, with soloist Chloe Hanslip, and Fifth Symphony framing Colin Matthews’s No Man’s Land and a new work by Deborah Pritchard – responses to the 1916 era.

Continuing with the First World War theme, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain recreate their funny, touching and irreverent commemorative concert When This Lousy War is Over, for one night only. A spectacular light show will see projections by Luxmuralis onto Lichfield Cathedral taking the Somme as its inspiration and an exhibition War Music brings together instruments, manuscripts and images from the Royal Academy of Music. Exploring some of the popular culture of the era, Jessica Walker’s Peace Cabaret uncovers some alternative war songs and Lucy Adlington introduces The History Wardrobe: Great War Fashion.

A specially-commissioned opera production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte follows last year’s much-enjoyed The Magic Flute, with an all-star cast, new narration by Joe Sheridan and fresh piano duet transcription by Anthony Kraus. I Fagiolini’s ‘Amuse-Bouche’ serves up a tasting menu of French choral delicacies from Fauré to Poulenc. The Marian Consort delves into the music and murky personal life of Italian Renaissance composer Gesualdo in Breaking the Rules, and baroque ensemble Barokksolistene present their Norwegian folk-infused, beer-inspired, Alehouse Sessions.

1916 also saw the birth of children’s author Roald Dahl and in his centenary year, Ballet Cymru presents Roald Dahl’s’ Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, and the city’s youngsters showcase their creativity in a drama workshop Dahl in a Day. Other events for the whole family include a Ragdoll trail around the city’s shops and cafes with everyone invited to get involved and the Florette Festival Market is back. A Festival Fete features traditional dancing, and a gathering and procession leads from it to Mahogany Opera Group’s theatre adaption of the cautionary tale The Rattler (Rumplestiltskin).

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Film presenter Mark Kermode introduces Charlie Chaplin’s silent films The Rink and The Immigrant with a live orchestral backdrop provided by Orchestra of the Swan, and there’s popular song from the golden age of Hollywood with the celebrated jazz singer Claire Martin, Tippett String Quartet and James Pearson Quintet. Other highlights include comedians Susan Calman and Rob Beckett, known to millions through their TV appearances, folk songstress Kate Rusby and her superb band, and the latest stunning creation from the Sonia Sabri Company whose Salaam (Peace) marries live music with Kathak dance.

On stage, the Malachite Theatre Company returns to Lichfield Festival to perform Hamlet, The Foundry Group presents Those Magnificent Men - a staging of the hit play about British aviation pioneers Alcock and Brown - and Dinosaur Park is an award-winning theatrical spin-off on Jurassic Park. The Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club pushes cabaret to new frontiers with Hitch, and film showings include Dial M for Murder, Sunset Blvd and Singing in the Rain. And there are visits by authors Sebastian Faulks (Where My Heart Used to Beat), Tracy Borman (The Private Lives of the Tudors) and Frances Welch (Rasputin: A Short Life), while Mona Siddiqui gives the 2016 Peace Lecture.

Sonia Stevenson, Artistic Director of Lichfield Festival said, “What makes the Lichfield Festival so special and unique? Its history (the festival has been proudly going for 35 years), its setting (one of the most beautiful, historic cities in the country) and its programme (an inspiring, moving, star-studded, eclectic line-up). This year is no exception. With a programme featuring major orchestras alongside star comedians, where big name authors rub shoulders with legends from folk and jazz, where all the family can enjoy a day out, and where you will laugh, sing and cry, this is a festival like no other! So come along in July and discover for yourself what the Lichfield Festival is all about.”

For more details and tickets visit www.lichfieldfestival.org