Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Hundreds roll up to revel in the glories of Belfast festival

What a glorious weekend — and I’m not just talking about the weather.

Hundreds of people enjoyed the festival during Saturday and Sunday — they queued up to hear Paul Brady play with the Ulster Orchestra, heard writers talk about their work and climbed aboard the Belfast barge to hear David Lyttle’s Dark Tales.

And that was just a sampling of the entree.

Today sees the start of the first full week of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s — jam-packed with good things to see and do.

Colin Bateman’s stage debut may have the audience standing, as he reveals his new National Anthem for Northern Ireland.

Jo Wilding is in town to see the drama based on her adventures in Baghdad. Don’t Shoot The Clowns brings dark humour to that often dark location.

There are films about John Lennon and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis; music from Bob Brozman and friends, who combine American Roots and Irish Trad — and talks from Jenni Murray and Paddy Ashdown.

Highlight of the week is the world premiere of New Chamber Opera’s Postcards from Dumbworld. Local composer Brian Irvine’s work is set in a bingo hall and the cast includes KGB agents and giant rabbits. We follow the stories of several different characters who are searching to make sense of their surroundings.

Featuring a cast of 24 singers and musicians, the opera carries echoes of Britten, Tom Waits, Kurt Weil and even David Lynch.

But what about tonight, I hear you ask. What can I see tonight?

The delightful Ursula Burns is on stage with Cahoots NI, but she’s also launching her new album Deep in the Dreaming, at Botanic Gardens.

In the Elmwood Hall, Jenni Murray will be discussing her career in broadcasting, and in particular the 22 years she’s spent at the helm of Woman’s Hour.

There’ll be insights a-plenty at the Crescent Arts Centre, in a discussion on Conflict in the Middle East.

Media commentator and university professor Avi Shlaim, who was born in Baghdad and grew up in Israel, will be talking to QUB professor and author Beverly Milton-Edwards, who lived and worked in the Gaza Strip and West Bank for some years, and later acted as adviser to the EU on the Middle East Peace Process.

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