Lichfield Festival programme announced

Landmark anniversary for Cathedral City festival.

A packed programme of music, film, theatre, comedy, dance, family events, visual arts and talks has been announced to mark this year’s Lichfield Festival from 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 ten-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 1st 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.

Amongst other highlights 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 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.”

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