Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Belfast Festival opening concert followed by a weekend of great delights

Leading light: Julie Christie stars in the classic film The Go-Between, which screens at the QFT tonight

It has been the case in past years that, after the traditional razamatazz of the Opening Concert, the first weekend of the festival was rather a quiet affair. Not so this year, with a battalion of big guns lined up over the next two days.

No point detaining you any further with chat about Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley — plus the Ulster Orchestra — in the Waterfront Hall, best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin talking about his hard-hitting new novel ‘The Complaints’ in the Waterfront Studio or the excellent Josh Ritter and string band in the Empire Music Hall. They’re all sold out.

But wait. Don’t go away. There’s plenty more on offer.

Julie Feeney’s songs have been compared to those of no less an icon than Bob Dylan. Even though she wasn’t even born when he was writing about that Girl from the North Country and goings-on along Highway 61, those in the know reckon that her work bears uncanny comparison to some of Dylan’s very best.

This bewitching Galway-born performer, who is a professionally trained choral singer, instrumentalist and theatre artist, will be at the Oh Yeah! Music Centre in the Cathedral Quarter tomorrow night, performing songs from her acclaimed album ‘pages’.

Their name, Los Desterrados, means ‘the exiles’. Based in London, this handsome six-strong ensemble perform the haunting, exotic music of the Sephardic Jews, with all its Latin, jazz, soul, folk, gipsy and flamenco influences.

With the release of their third album, ‘Miradores’, they have put Sephardic music right onto the cutting edge of contemporary world music, singing mainly in Ladino, a UNESCO protected language.

Take a chance on something new, different and really satisfying tomorrow at 8pm in the Spiegeltent.

No sense of taking chances with Sean Hughes. The sardonic comic never provides anything less than a mighty evening of subversive laughter. Tonight in the Elmwood Hall, he is back with a new show, that is as dark and explosively unpredictable as ever.

Gdansk-born novelist, writer and poet Pawet Huelle is just one of a handful of names emanating from Polska! Year, a celebration of the culture of Poland. He has an impeccable 20th century profile, as a former employee of the Solidarity press office in the Gdansk shipyard. His published work reflects his multi-faceted career as a university lecturer, journalist, television centre director and columnist. Hear his fascinating stories tomorrow in the Baby Grand at 6pm.

Further information check out: www.belfastfestival.com

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