Stage is set for 50th Belfast Festival at Queen’s
THE 2012 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s has announced details of the first 15 acts in a line-up of over 100 names that will perform as part of the 50th Festival celebrations which will take over the city from October 19 to November 4.
Leading Soprano, Lesley Garrett, Festival favourite Van Morrison, comedian Jon Richardson, Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the world renowned Buena Vista Social Club were some of the names revealed by Festival Director Shan McAnena in what will be the first of many announcements due over the coming weeks.
This year the Festival is part of the ni2012: our time our place programme which recognises its ranking on the international festival market and its role as an attraction for visitors to the region.
Queen’s University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “Festival 50 is a momentous milestone for both the Festival and the University. The Festival has delighted audiences down through the years and is recognised as a cultural powerhouse for the city and the region. The 2012 line up sets even higher standards and, coming in a year that has meant so much to Belfast, is a fitting finale to all of the year’s events.”
To mark the 50th Festival, this year’s programme will welcome back Festival founder Michael Emerson whose original vision to celebrate the creative spirit of Belfast has shaped the cultural landscape of Northern Ireland over the last five decades. Michael will return to Belfast from his home in Mexico to witness how his vision - which began as a small campus based event – has evolved to become an internationally acclaimed cultural showcase bringing together diverse art forms and engaging audiences in new artistic experiences.
In honour of Michael’s return a Mexican flavour will be running throughout the programme including performances from Michael’s wife, Mexican flautist Elena Duran, and one of the most distinguished groups within the Mexican musical scene today - Pate de Fua. To add to the carnival feel, Cuban music phenomena Buena Vista Social club will be making an appearance and promise a knock out performance.
Festival Director Shan McAnena is delighted with the programme for 2012, and commented: “It’s a really exciting line-up this year and this first release of shows should whet the appetite for what is to come. Our vision this year is to celebrate the past but also to deliver new experiences encouraging new audiences to ‘get in on the act’. We want to engage, excite, inspire and even provoke audiences with an eclectic mix of performances. It will be a great celebration of culture for everyone to be part of.”
The Festival will open with a fanfare of 50 trumpets as they play a new work by local composer Michael Alcorn. This overture sets the scene for a strong music programme which will feature names such as Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo who will be bringing their rich harmonies to Belfast audiences whilst critically acclaimed soprano Lesley Garrett will perform alongside world renowned clarinettist Emma Johnson in the magical surroundings of the Clonard Monastery. The Monastery will also play host to a rare performance by Polyphony who were recently described as “possibly the best small choir in the world” by USA magazine Encore.
To celebrate the 50th Festival a number of favourites will be returning including a reunion of “The Folk Club” which this year will take place in the Elmwood Hall. Festival veteran Van Morrison will be playing in a couple of intimate ‘supper concerts’ at The Europa Hotel and “Turn down the Lamp” returns with narration and traditional music featuring Dan Gordon, and many more.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of Arts Council and the Festival’s principal public funder, is looking forward to an exciting line up at this year’s Festival, “As always the range of local and international talent that will be on offer throughout the Festival is as tantalising as anywhere else on the island of Ireland. It’s a great platform for local acts to show what they can do in the company of top international performers, and it’s a unique opportunity for audiences to see major acts which come to Northern Ireland on the strength of the Festival’s reputation.”
2012 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s will be offering a wide selection of shows for children and young people with its largest line up of family orientated shows for many years. The popular Enchanted Garden returns to Botanic Gardens but this time with a new twist and a first for Festival is the introduction of a new show “Comedy 4 Kids” which comes to Belfast following six successful runs at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Comedy on the whole is back by popular demand for 2012 and a headline name will be Jon Richardson, who boasts years of success at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is a regular participant on television programmes such as “8 out of 10 Cats”, “Have I got news for you” and” Never mind the Buzzcocks.”
Susie McCullough, Director of Marketing and Events at Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is a key event within the ni2012: our time, our place’ programme. We are showcasing the very best of Northern Ireland to the world and The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is a fitting finale for what is proving to be a huge year for the region.”
The 2012 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s will run from October 19 to November 4.
More show announcements will be made over the coming weeks on the Festival Facebook page and via twitter. For more information visit www.belfastfestival.com and become a Facebook Friend to be kept up to date with announcements.
For further information on ‘ni2012: our time, our place’ events and activity see ni2012.com
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