Festival seeking a city audience

Buxton Festival young singers
Buxton Festival young singers
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Buxton Festival is really keen to bring in the Sheffield punters and thuis year held its first launch in the city.

Festival director Stephen Barlow says that lovers of classical music, opera and books are missing a treat if they haven’t visited.

He said: “The festival offers something that is unique in this country. It offers the highest quality concerts and opera, a literary series and occasionally ballet performances.

“As well as concert after concert of repertoire that is extremely well-known, such as Schubert and Verdi, there’s something you don’t know but perhaps you’d enjoy, which is real festival programming.

“We have a concert hall, opera house and church, three prime venues all in walking distance.

“You could see four things in one day and still have time for a nice long dinner or see six things and have some sandwiches.

“It is such a beautiful place that the tourists flock to it in summer. The gardens are so beautiful.”

Stephen, who has a long and successful career as an opera and orchestra conductor, took over as artistic director last year.#

He said: “I spent most of my life as a conductor travelling all over the place.

“I spent 15 years for two months a year, constantly travelling, which I got weary of. I was going to go back to conducting and composing.

“When the offer came through, I immediately recognised it as a festival that had a wonderful foundation.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to our own productions with some of the best British young singers at the moment.

“I think I’m also really happy that the chamber music series is developing.

“We’re getting some very, very fine artists. They can come for two, three or four days and get to know us and the public can get to know them.”

Opera highlights includeMozart’s work La Finta Giardiera and a Music Theatre Wales double bill of The Killing Flower and Eight songs for a Mad King.

The Festival Double Bill consists of two witty and romantic pieces from 19th-century France.

Saint-Saëns’ La Princesse Jaune is a satire on the 19th-century fad for all things Japanese and Gounod’s La colombe is a comic opera based on the poem La Faucon by Jean de la Fontaine.

The music programme includes concerts by piano duo Worbey & Farrell, the girl with the golden harp Claire Jones, singers James Gilchrist, Kate Ladner and AnneSophie Duprels, pianists Pascal and Ami Rogé, and celebrated classical ensembles The Sacconi Quartet and The Fibonacci Sequence.

There’s also late-night jazz from veteran actor John Standing, The Alex Yellowlees Band and Ronnie Scott’s house band The James Pearson Trio, featuring the violinist and vocalist Lizzie Ball.

The festival has established a Young Artists Programme involving eight talented young singers.

They will act as understudies for roles in the festival operas and take part in a number of performances.

Each evening at 6pm, the singers will be performing a free recital on the Pavilion Gardens Bandstand.

The singers will also take part in two recitals – on Monday July 8 there’s a programme of operatic favourites called Sacred & Profane, then on Friday 12 they perform songs by Schumann and Poulenc.

It’s not just music, though. Stephen Barlow said: “Buxton has over 30 literary events and is becoming most important.

“We’ve got a wonderful cross-section of speakers including BBC political editor Nick Robinson, politician Paddy Ashdown and Countryfile present Julia Bradbury.”

Stephen’s wife, actress Joanna Lumley, is taking part, interviewing architect Thomas Hetherwick, who designed the Olympic cauldron fror London 2012.

The festival runs from July 5 to 21. For more information, visit www.buxtonfestival.co.uk or call 01298 70395.