Belfast Telegraph

Feast for the eyes and ears

By Seana Skeffington, Festival Marketing Manager

Every international festival worth its salt has its own indispensable companion. Performance is such a publication for the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and is without a doubt the standout media guide for this year’s event.

In these pages you’ll find top quality features, previews and interviews, offering insights about a great many of the weird, wonderful and inspired exponents of drama, dance, music, spoken word, art and literature that comprise this year’s spectacular Festival programme.

And what a programme! It seems that every year at festival time the same superlatives are uttered and the usual talk about ‘bigger and better than ever’ is bandied about. But you don’t have to be an arts aficionado or even a festival buff to see that household names such as Carlos Acosta, Elvis Costello, Michael Moore and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa are not your everyday visitors to our shores.

It’s a real thrill to be involved with a festival which can offer up these headlining stars to a Northern Irish audience. But in keeping with the spirit of the 49th Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, we’re not only putting international acts on a local stage, but offering a global platform to some scintillating indigenous talent.

Two of our finest and most innovative theatre companies, Ransom and Tinderbox, offer up darkly invigorating new work. Also featuring is Dan Gordon’s world premiere of Boat Factory and the young talents of Musical Theatre for Youth doing West Side Story.

It’s unsurprising to those of us who work in the arts sector here that Belfast city is a vibrant cultural destination all year round, but every second fortnight in October, the white heat generated by the city’s flagship festival acts like a beacon to visitors from far and wide.

Whether people come to see Wayne McGregor’s stunning new production FAR, acclaimed work from renowned companies such as Handspring (magical) or Ridiculusmus (maniacal) or bask in the wonder of Carmina Burana as performed by the Ulster Orchestra, the Ulster Youth Orchestra and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, they’re all part of the richly diverse well of acts and audiences we bring together each year.

Classical concerts from the likes of Dame Kiri and the Ulster Orchestra, Joanna McGregor and JoAnn Falletta will have music lovers of all stripes racing to secure their seats.

A talks programme that includes Bianca Jagger and the irresistible gathering of Malachi O’Doherty, Gerry Anderson and Carlo Gebler ruminating on Men, Manhood, Sex and the Dishes really lives up to the phrase ‘hotly anticipated’.

As for the music, the line-up boasts James Vincent McMorrow, KT Tunstall and jazz legend Jan Garbarek to name but a few.

So I hope you enjoy sampling some of the treats that will whet your appetite for the main feast. We like to have one great Performance in the bag before the Festival starts, and here it is.

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