Londonderry, Various venues, Today, until Sunday, August 7
Londonderry is gearing itself up for its momentous UK City of Culture status in 2013. The city has always been famous for its interest in all things artistic at all levels and the year will no doubt build on many of the city’s already established arts features.
Among the more recent of those is the Walled City Music Festival which is now in its third year. For such a new festival, it has managed to attract some big hitting names from the international world of classical music. It remains the goal of the two founder directors of the festival, Cathal Breslin and Sabrina Hu, “to inspire the youth and communities from all backgrounds” by coming into close contact with such big names from the music world.
New Zealand-born Samoan bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu returns to the city to open the festival tonight at 8pm in the Guildhall, and tomorrow night in the Great Hall at Magee, arguably the most famous quartet in the world, the Kronos, will give a programme which includes the premier of Steve Reich’s new work, World Trade Center 9/11.
Fast-forwarding to next Friday in the Guildhall, a group of outstanding players from the Houston Symphony Orchestra — Houston Winds — gives a concert of music including Poulenc’s wonderfully melodic Sextet with pianist Cathal Breslin.
The festival ends in spectacular fashion, on Sunday, August 7, at 8pm, with the living legend of flute, Sir James Galway, and his wife Lady Jeanne. A big crowd will be there no doubt so the Millennium Forum is the venue for this concert which comprises a largely light and very accessible programme of music for which Sir James has become so famous.
In between all these big concerts, many of the artists will be giving masterclasses to a host of young people during the day and that, of course, is one of the great attractions of the festival.
But this is not just a music festival for Derry and the directors hope to attract visitors and audiences from all around Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland in general.
Tickets and more information available from the festival website www.walledcitymusicfestival.com