A star-studded cast of actors, singers and artists from across the world have gathered to reveal what is in store for Londonderry’s City of Culture year in 2013.
Groundbreaking projects in music, theatre, dance and visual art are among the first highlights officially confirmed.
Acclaimed Northern Ireland actor Stephen Rea and the cast of Hollyoaks joined local composer Phil Coulter and artists such as Bosnian theatre director Haris Pavoc in the city for the launch.
Messages of support were also beamed through to the audience from Girls Aloud singer Nadine Coyle, Glee star Damian McGinty and Israeli choreographer Hofesh Schecter — all of whom will perform in the city during 2013.
Nadine Coyle said she was “ecstatic” Derry won the title, adding: “There are so many reasons why Derry deserves this; the architecture, the music, and the history, but the thing that really makes us deserve it is the people of Derry. I’m so happy for us.”
Voice star Ben Kelly opened the event with Home, a self-penned love note to the city, and world-renowned pianist Barry Douglas delivered a Phil Coulter song.
Schoolchildren from the Fountain and Longtower primary schools performed in a precursor to a musical project which will involve 7,000 children. The event was one of 13 separate programme elements highlighted yesterday.
These included the All-Ireland Fleadh and the Turner Prize.
Launching the programme, Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said 2013 will be “an exciting time for Derry”. Her department is awarding £12m towards ensuring a legacy for the north west.
Coming your way ... Programme highlights are revealed
The Turner prize
The Turner Prize is one of Europe’s most prestigious awards for contemporary art.
Now in its 29th year, the Turner Prize will be presented in Derry for four months from October 2011.
The Turner Prize is awarded each year to a British artist under 50 who makes an outstanding exhibition or presentation of their work over the past 12 months.
Shona McCarthy, the chief executive of the Culture Company 2013, yesterday said the Turner was the “equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival for visual art”.
Marking the Summer Solstice, thousands of musicians are expected to set up in streets, venues, shops and workplaces across the city.
The event on June 21, 2013 will showcase the wide variety of musical talent in the region.
A call has now gone out for all amateur and professional musicians to join in.
The cast of popular teen soap opera Hollyoaks are expected to become frequent visitors to Derry during 2013.
The cast, including Hollyoaks star Jorgie Porter and crew will work alongside NI Screen to deliver “something special”. It is believed some episodes of the soap will be filmed in Derry.
A year-long project will provide 7,000 Derry children, aged three to eight years old, with the opportunity to sing and learn an instrument. The project is the first of its kind and will involve every primary, special and nursery school in the city.
Cultural programmer Shauna O’Reilly said she wanted the Music Promise to resonate “across events, working with local and international artists”.
“The children who stand to benefit the most will get the greatest investment,” she said.