The 10th Malcolm Arnold Festival. Director Paul Harris reveals some of this years’ very special events…
Welcome to the 10th Malcolm Arnold Festival! I’ve called it ‘A Gesture of Friendship’ – Sir Malcolm’s own delightful explanation of what music is all about. And what a terrific Festival we have in store for you. There are SO many highlights, special events and special guests appearing – here are just some of them…
We have had such a distinguished line up of celebrities to launch the Festival over the past nine years – but it wasn’t difficult to choose our tenth. I was delighted when Sir Tim Rice, a great Arnold fan, agreed. And the launch concert will be a magnificent one. We begin with Malcolm’s 'Hoffnung Fanfare' for 36 trumpets – actually I’m hoping we’ll have nearer 100! I’m delighted that it will be conducted by Ben Hoffnung himself. And then there will be a performance of one of Malcolm’s most enduring favourites – 'The Padstow Lifeboat March' played by the excellent players of the Northampton County Youth Brass Band who will also accompany the massed choirs of Northampton in a performance of 'Song of Freedom'. After lunch we will return to St Matthews for our annual event there. Malcolm gave many performances at St Matthews and the work he later wrote for Canon Walter Hussey, 'Psalm 150' forms a central pillar of this concert. In addition we shall hear the wonderful Double Violin Concerto and the rarely performed 'John Clare Cantata' in a special new arrangement for choir and string orchestra.
Back to the Derngate for a special concert presented by the excellent Alice Pinto – now taking part in her third Festival. It’s a look at some of Malcolm’s later music and will include two very special performances – the world premiere of his 'Fantasy for Double Bass' – a tantalising work that remained unfinished, but has now been brilliantly completed by Matthew Taylor. Also a very rare performance of his song cycle 'Contrasts' (in a version for tenor and piano) which will be sung by the young award winning tenor James Bowers. This will be followed by another special concert. We welcome back Jenny Dyson, who so beautifully played the 'Flute Concerto 2' a couple of years ago, to lead a programme of instrumental music. This will include a sparkling newly created ballet, especially for the occasion, to accompany Malcolm’s 'Grand Fantasia'!
In the evening we have a hugely notable landmark in the history of the Malcolm Arnold Festivals – our first BBC broadcast and a performance by our first BBC Orchestra – The BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Martin Yates in a programme to feature the 'Philharmonic Concerto', the 'John Field Fantasy', played by the legendary Peter Donohoe and the towering '7th Symphony'. An un-missable experience.
Sunday is our special ‘Gesture of Friendship’ day where we will be inviting musicians all over the world to play music as a gesture of friendship. The Northampton County Youth Orchestra – who have supported us in all 10 festivals so superbly, are going to play the '2nd Symphony' as well as the 'Cornish Dances' and the 'Roots of Heaven Overture'. Then we have Part 2 of the Forgotten Films – a rare chance to see and hear some of Sir Malcolm’s less known work for the silver screen. I’m delighted that John Griff will be back to introduce the event.
Then we will have two concerts. Mostly of music never heard at any previous Festivals. The first will be all three Sinfoniettas conducted by the legendary Hilary Davan Wetton and the second will be a wonderful Brass Ensemble from Scandinavia who will be including the 'Symphony for Brass'.
The Gala Concert – ‘Reaching Around the Globe’ will feature the 'Commonwealth Overture' (another first!), the 'Saxophone Concerto' (yet another first!) played by BBC Young Musician winner Jess Gillam and a return visit by our other BBC Young Musician Martin James Bartlett! We’ll also be hearing the 'Scottish Dances' and a very rare arrangement by MA.
So there’s a glimpse of what we have in store! And the Derngate are again offering tickets at fantastically generous prices. So book yours now! (01604 624811) See you there!
Booking Information. The box office at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton: telephone number 01604 624 811.
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Frequent trains from Euston to Northampton (journey time: 50 minutes)
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