Tuesday 26 March 2024

A radical new look: full line-up for Nevill Holt's 2024 festival

Nevill Holt Festival 2024

The full line-up for the radical new 2024 Nevill Holt Festival has now been announced. Running from 1 to 26 June 2024, guest festival director James Dacre's programme features opera, classical music, jazz and contemporary, alongside visual arts, talks and literature.

This is a very different style of festival to previously, instead of two main operas there is a wide mix of events intended to tempt people into repeat visits. Also, the wider estate is more involved with an outdoor art exhibition, come for a concert and stay for Anthony Caro's sculpture.

The musical events place quite a reliance on established artists and I miss a young artists strand, though casting for the opera has not yet been announced.

Opera remains a strong strand in the festival, there will be six performances of Melly Still's new production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, with Finnegan Downie Dear conducting Britten Sinfonia. And Finnegan Downie Dear returns with Shadwell Opera, of which he is music director, for the premiere performance of The Devil's Den by British-Canadian composer Isabella Gellis. The opera is Shadwell Opera's first full-length commission and we are promised a tale of superstition and sacrifice rooted in English folklore, concerning a child, a rabbit, a devil, a druid and their mysterious connection to a celebrated dolmen.

Britten Sinfonia will also be giving a concert featuring music by Benjamin Kwasi-Burrell and Sergey Akhunov, plus Max Richter's version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, accompanied by David Yarrow photography. There are recitals from pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, tenor Nicky Spence, soprano Mary Bevan & pianist Joseph Middleton, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly & pianist Imogen Cooper, and pianists Pavel Kolesnikov & Samson Tsoy (including Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring).

Alexis Ffrench will be performing music from his latest album, Michael Morpurgo will be reading passages from his novel War Horse with musical accompaniment from Ben Murray, Anton Lesser will read excerpts from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall with music by Debbie Wiseman played by Katherine Rockhill. Cécile McLorin Salvant and pianist Dan Tepfer will be performing French chanson and there is more French chanson from Jessica Walker and Joseph Atkins

Jazz performers include Jalen Ngonda, and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, music director Pete Long, with Liane Carroll. 

Throughout the festival there will be a display of sculpture by Anthony Caro 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. There will be a screening of Vinny Rawding and Lee Cogswell's BOTY, and there will be conversations with sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, photographer David Yarrow, artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman, sculptor Nic Fiddian-Green and artist Allen Jones. Talks include Simon Martin on British Pop Art, and Daniel Hermann on the work of Eduardo Paolozzi.

On 14 and 15 June there is an extensive programme of conversations and talks, along with a free, hands-on archaeological exhibition for families based on objects found in the local area with University of Leicester Archaeological Services. For families there is also Madame Chandelier’s Opera Party for Kids which celebrates opera’s greatest hits in an interactive format. 

Over 1,500 primary schoolchildren will create 50-minute versions of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel which will be performed across the region in partnership with the Royal Opera House. One of these productions will play during the festival, accompanied by sopranos Fiona Finsbury and Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, directed by Jonathan Ainscough and conducted by Simon Toyne.

Full details from the festival website.

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