Festival 2012: bigger, bolder, better

Curtis Stigers.
Curtis Stigers.
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HARROGATE International Festival’s summer programme looks set to be the biggest and boldest for many years.

The programme has been announced and advance tickets are now on sale for what The Times has described as ‘the north of England’s leading arts festival’.

Promised to be the strongest line-up yet in its 47-year history, Festival Chief Executive, Sharon Canavar, said:

“2012 is a culturally epic year for Great Britain and the world’s eyes are watching. In that spirit, we have been bigger and bolder in our programming, resulting in a fantastically diverse programme of world-class events. From John Wilson and The Divine Comedy to Bellowhead and Claire Tomalin, this year’s glittering programme will cement Harrogate’s reputation as one of the leading cultural centres in the UK.”

Taking place across Harrogate and encompassing venues ranging from the legendary Spiegeltent to the beautifully restored Royal Hall, the Festival will offer something for all tastes and ages.

The orchestral and classical programme continues to attract leading international performers, with highlights this year including the return of renowned conductor John Wilson and his hand-picked orchestra, as well as Manchester’s world class chamber orchestra Manchester Camerata¸ who will be joined by internationally acclaimed Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa.

Other leading names appearing at the festival include pianist Melvyn Tan, the Ex Cathedra choir, and the all-female Finzi Quartet.

Furthermore, one of the world’s leading brass bands Black Dyke Band will be making a welcome return to Harrogate, following their much-acclaimed appearance last year.

Highlights from the jazz and contemporary programme include a performance from one of the most distinctive voices in music, singer/saxophonist Curtis Stigers, along with Yorkshire’s best-loved jazz singer Claire Teal and a rare live appearance from legendary trombonist and Festival guest director, Dennis Rollins.

There will also be performances from Neil Hannon aka The Divine Comedy, the twice Mercury Prize-nominated Eliza Carthy and Bellowhead, winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Best Live Act accolade an astonishing five times.

The festival’s burgeoning literary strand brings together some of the UK’s best-loved writers, including Sue Townsend, award-winning playwright and novelist Michael Frayn, and renowned biographer Claire Tomalin, who will be discussing her acclaimed book Charles Dickens: A Life. The curated literary strand will also include appearances from Victoria Hislop, Jon McGregor, Kate Summerscale and John O’Farrell.

The whole town will come alive with festival activities throughout July – the programme will include a dedicated Children’s and Family Festival, offering a stimulating and engaging programme of fun for children, ranging from author appearances to hands-on science workshops, whilst an outdoor Big Screen will be showcasing the very best of British cinema alongside British sporting highlights.

The legendary Spiegeltent, which gives audiences the chance to encounter performances and art in a truly magical setting, will also return to Harrogate, following appearances at the Edinburgh and Melbourne Festivals.

This announcement forms part of a series of line-up announcements for Harrogate International Festival with many more exciting acts and artists to be revealed in the coming weeks and months, including the festival’s Fringe events.

l For full programme details please visit: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.co.uk