Another Ulster group is set to cash in on Calamity Jane.
Downpatrick-based St Patrick's Choral Society are the latest local group to tackle the ever-popular musical. The Down society will stage the show in the Downshire Hospital's Great Hall from October 13-18.
And they will have a new production team in place for the occasion. Gareth McGreevy takes over from Ian Bell as musical director with Gary Warnock and Sarah McGreevey as co-directors. Sarah will also be responsible for the choreography.
Alan McClarty will play Tevye when Ballywillan Drama Group stage Fiddler on the Roof early next year.
He will play opposite Helen Wilkinson's Golde while Kerry Dunn, Elizabeth Lane and Fiona Warke will play the couple's three eldest daughters.
Director Brian Logan and musical director Eric Boyd have also included regulars such as Kent Bolton, Mark Adamson and Colin McClarty in the line-up. The show will be staged at Coleraine's Riverside Theatre from January 21-February 9.
Joanne Laverty will guide Fortwilliam Musical Society's fortunes over the next year.
It's the long-standing member's second stint in the chairman's role. She has taken over the reins from Bill Blair who remains on the company's committee. Valerie Patton is the group's new vice-chairman with Christopher Torbitt becoming secretary.
Maurice Jay will continue his love affair with West Side Story when he appears in the Ulster Operatic Company's revival in Belfast in the autumn.
The U105 presenter has been in all of the versions of the Broadway classic that have been staged in the city in recent years.
Peter Kennedy's production will run at the city's Grand Opera House from October 21-25.
In this country, apart from a small number of quality festivals, such as the Camerata Ireland (which this column focussed on last week) or Sonorities Festival of Contemporary music in August, the summer months are traditionally quiet. Paradoxically, it is now that the arts peak in the rest of Europe.
For music lovers planning breaks in August or September, you may wish to consider the little town of Lucerne, south of Zurich in Switzerland. When a town with a population of less than 60,000 is attracting over 100,000 visitors each year, you know there is something special about this “pearl in an oyster”, to quote the French writer Alexandre Dumas.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to Michael Haefliger, artistic and executive director of the Lucerne Festival. He said: “I came to Lucerne as a 37-year-old, just at the point when we had opened the new hall (the KKL Lucerne, designed by famous French architect Jean Nouvel and overlooking Lake Lucerne in the town centre). I was standing in front of this jewel and I guess I was too naive to be worried about the challenge of programming events of quality which would be up to the expectations of a much bigger audience.”
Haefliger, a trained classical musician who grew up in Berlin and Munich, took over the Lucerne Festival in 1999. Since his appointment, it has seen a dramatic rise in sponsorship – some 24 million Swiss Francs today (close to £12 million!). Its audiences have also risen steadily – an impressive 300% increase in the last ten years. Haefliger, somewhat modestly offers a simple explanation: “I think it is up to the programming – using very famous artists and very famous orchestras which have a strong attraction”.
The music is what it’s all about. This year’s Festival runs from August 13–September 21, with a theme of ‘TanzMusik’ (dance music).
Boasting its own festival orchestra, an academy solely dedicated to contemporary music (led by Pierre Boulez), ten orchestral new work commissions a year and the creme de la creme of international soloists/conductors, it is one of the most rewarding musical experiences you can dream of. For more information on the Lucerne Festival, go to www.lucernefestival.ch
Closer to home next week, for those of us who can’t afford to flee the country, there’s always Opera In The Park for comfort. The Marriage Of Figaro will be relayed via big screen to Botanic Gardens, and other locations throughout the UK, on July 16. Start praying for sunshine!