Tuesday 19 December 2023

Nevill Holt refocuses as a multi-arts festival for 2024 under guest festival director James Dacre.

Plans have been announced for the 2024 festival at Nevill Holt with Nevill Holt Opera being refocused as the Nevill Holt Festival

Plans have been announced for the 2024 festival at Nevill Holt with Nevill Holt Opera being refocused as the Nevill Holt Festival. Whilst music and the arts have always been a feature of the present incarnation of the Nevill Holt estate (bought and restored by David Ross in 2000 following years as a prep school), the performance presentation has undergone a number of incarnations. 

Initially a temporary theatre was created in the courtyard of the historic 17th century stables and opera seasons presented in collaboration with Wasfi Kani's Grange Park Opera. Then in 2013, a new company was launched, Nevill Holt Opera, with director Oliver Mears and conductor Nicholas Chalmers. In 2018 the temporary theatre was replaced by an award winning new one by architects Witherford Watson Mann and then in 2021 the festival was held in the open air [see my review of Mozart's Don Giovanni]. This year's festival had something of a wobble as plans were radically altered and one opera programme cancelled after booking had opened.

Now plans have been announced for moving to a multi-arts festival. The Nevill Holt Festival in 2024 is being curated by guest festival director James Dacre, artistic director of Northampton's Royal & Derngate Theatres from 2013-2023. 

There will be a festival opera, Mozart's The Magic Flute [ironically, or deliberately, the first production from Nevill Holt Opera in 2013] created in association with the Britten Sinfonia. Other musical events include performances from mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and pianist Imogen Cooper, pianists Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, Benjamin Grosvenor, Pavel Kolesnikov & Samson Tsoy. Tenor Nicky Spence, soprano Mary Bevan and pianist Joseph Middleton bring their celebratory Noel Coward programme, the Britten Sinfonia will perform Max Richter's Vivaldi re-write alongside a world premiere, and Cécile McLorin Salvant and Dan Tepfer will premiere A French Affair as an evening of chansons exploring their shared French heritage. 

In the wider arts, there will be an Anthony Caro exhibition across the Nevill Holt estate alongside an outdoor sculpture collection including work by Antony Gormley, Rachel Whiteread, Allen Jones, Conrad Shawcross, Marc Quinn and Sean Henry. Other events include comedian Mark Watson, Michael Morpurgo, and Alice Roberts.

Over 1,500 primary schoolchildren will perform a 50-minute version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel in theatres across the region with sopranos Fiona Finsbury and Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, directed by Jonathan Ainscough and conducted by Simon Toyne. Their final performance will fall during Nevill Holt Festival 2024. Meanwhile, the music scholars of Northampton’s Malcolm Arnold Academy will present a chamber music concert in the atmospheric surroundings of the Chapel, accompanied by Jem Lowther and Jamie Milburn and the Big Band of Malcolm Arnold Academy will be led by jazz artist Jamie Glew-Osborn in a programme of jazz standards and big band classics.

Full details from the Nevill Holt Festival website.

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