47th ST MAGNUS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Set For This June

Learn more about the lineup here!

By: Mar. 23, 2023
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47th ST MAGNUS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Set For This June

Under the directorship of Scottish composer Alasdair Nicolson, this year's multi-artform programme spans the world premiere of David McNeish's new play, Thora, directed by Gerda Stevenson, brings superb dance in the form of Scottish Ballet's debut, sees its first major outdoor installation from Architects of Air, and of course a strong music line-up courses through it.

Bringing performers to Orkney to be 'in residence' at the festival, Nicolson is exploring both sustainability and the deepening of relationships between artists and between visiting musicians and the Orkney Islands.

Known for spotting and championing fantastic young talent, this year's St Magnus Festival pairs the young Scottish stars accordionist Ryan Corbett and trumpeter Aaron Akugbo for the first time, sees the Hebrides Ensemble perform Ravel's orchestral works in new arrangements by Nicolson, and welcomes a strong Dutch contingent including the award-winning young pianist Nikola Meeuwsen, rich Baritone Maarten Koningsberger and several performances by the internationally renowned and exciting Ragazze Quartet including Winterreise in an arrangement by Dutch violist Wim ten Have.

The Festival spans venues from Pier Arts Centre to St Magnus Cathedral, stunning churches nestled scenically on the coast, Stromness Town Hall, The Writing Room at Kirkwall Hotel and the Pickaquoy Centre.

Festival Director, Alasdair Nicolson said: "We are excited to be presenting a vibrant and eclectic 2023 Festival bringing the midsummer nights to life with concerts, theatre and much, much more. This year sees a Lowlands to Northlands series with performers from the Netherlands 'in residence' in the first days of the Festival, exploring the talents of astonishing young pianist Nikola Meeuwsen, the phenomenal artistry of the Ragazze Quartet and the elegant baritone voice of Maarten Koningsberger.

"A new play by local writer David McNeish turns the spotlight on the story of Thora, the mother of St Magnus, looking at the well-known events through her eyes. An amazing assembly of accordions makes for a mini festival in itself with solos, duos and ensembles filling St Magnus Cathedral with extraordinary sounds. New Scottish star performers Ryan Corbett and Aaron Akugbo collaborate for the first time and we have old friends of the festival, Florilegium and the Hebrides Ensemble, giving several performances.

"Hot on the heels of last year's highly praised promenade performance, we have Solstice of Dark and Light, an evening of music, poetry and art. As usual you'll be able to see various parts of the Orkney Islands and venues not often visited as well as many chances to sample local foods and baking as part of some concerts. We look forward to seeing you in June."

Emma Campbell, Creative Scotland's Music Officer said: "Orkney's St Magnus Festival plays a vibrant role in the cultural life of the islands; its imaginative programming and unique setting attracting artists and audiences from far and wide. Celebrating music, dance and theatre in many forms and featuring a stellar line-up of homegrown talent in concert with artists from around the world, the Festival gives the arts a starring role in Scotland's cultural life in June."

Emma Gee, Arts Officer for Orkney Islands Council said: "St Magnus Festival's 2023 offer spans an incredible range of artforms and genres, and it is really exciting to see such a strong return to live performances building on last year. Orkney Islands Council is pleased to be in partnership with the Festival as a funder and excited to see its ongoing development."

ARCHITECTS OF AIR

Terceradix

Architects of Air tour internationally with their spectacular, large scale, dazzling inflatable structures which invite the audience to step inside a sensory cocoon of colour. Their work is designed to invite the curious of all ages in to explore and the Festival hopes will appeal to lots of the local population including families living on the Islands. Terceradix will be positioned near the Pickaquoy Centre [Pickaquoy Centre: Friday 16 - Sunday 18 June]

THORA

St Magnus Festival production

The world premiere of a new play by David McNeish, directed by Gerda Stevenson.

This new work from Orkney based writer David McNeish seeks to throw prominence on the mother of Saint Magnus who is barely mentioned in the sagas. The two-hander, played by Isabella Jarrett (Thora) and Simon Donaldson (Magnus), sees the ghost of Magnus appear to his ageing mother, revealing the trials of her life after his death and martyrdom. Deeply poetic this is McNeish's first work for the theatre. [Orkney Theatre: Friday 16 & Saturday 17 June]

FESTIVAL POETS:

Alycia Pirmohamed and Gerda Stevenson

Two stunning and distinctive voices in poetry, the Festival is delighted that Gerda Stevenson and Alycia Pirmohamed will share their work in Orkney this summer.

TOMORROW'S FEAST

Stevenson's new collection of poems will be launched at St Magnus Festival. Published by Luath Press this anthology Tomorrow's Feast is full of wit and lucidity, and is as intimate and intricate as it is full of visionary sweep.

[Kirkwall Hotel, Saturday 17 June]

ANOTHER WAY TO SPLIT WATER

Canadian-born poet Pirmohamed is based in Scotland. She is the author of Another Way to Split Water, as well as the pamphlets Hinge and Faces that Fled the Wind. She is the co-founder of the Scottish BPOC Writers Network and recipient of several awards, including the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize and the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.

[Pier Arts Centre, Stromness: Saturday 17 June]

CAROLYNE LARRINGTON

NORSE MYTHS THAT SHAPE THE WAY WE THINK

Carolyne Larrington brings her new book The Norse Myths that Shape the Way we Think to life for festival audiences. Exploring the many books, opera, film, tv shows and art that has been informed and inspired by Norse Myths she'll navigate how these powerful stories have inspired our cultural landscape and how they continue to speak to such modern concerns as masculinity and environmental disaster. [Kirkwall Hotel, Sunday 18 June]

JOHNSMAS FOY

WAVES AND TANGLES

Johnsmas is a Nordic midsummer festival, a celebration and coming together which at St Magnus Festival has always revolved around words, this year bringing spoken word, photos, drama and song together. Sarah Jane Gibbon, a lecturer at University of the Highlands and Islands and a performer brings together a celebration of the life and work of her grand-mother, Bessy Skea on the centenary of her birth.

Bessy was the 'Countrywoman' whose writing in Orcadian paralleled George MacKay Brown, with whom she was great friends. [Stromness Town Hall, Wednesday 21 June]

ESA ALDEGHERI

ROUND THE WORLD ON TWO WHEELS

When Esa Aldegheri and her husband left their home in Orkney, Esa didn't know that their eighteen-month motorbike adventure would take them through twenty international frontiers - between Europe and the Middle East, through Pakistan, China and India - many of which are now impassable.

Charting a story of shrinking and expanding liberties and horizons, of motherhood, womanhood, xenophobia and changing geopolitical situations, Free to Go (published by John Murray) is about the journeys that shape and transform us.

Esa Aldegheri is a multilingual poet, writer and academic, who has a PhD in Migration Studies and whose non-fiction has been published by Granta, MAP Magazine, Gutter Press, the Dangerous Women Project and others. [Kirkwall Hotel, Thursday 22 June]

FLORILEGIUM

One of Britain's most outstanding period instrument groups specialising in music from the 17th and 18th centuries Florilegium has an enviable reputation. Their hypnotic music making is well known to audiences as festival favourites returning this year with three concerts:

Le Roi S'amuse - works by Leclair, Rameau, Couperin, Boismortier, and Marais in St Magnus Cathedral. [St Magnus, Friday 16 June]

Café Zimmerman - including works by JS Bach, Telemann, CPE Bach, with Birsay Bay Tea Room picnic lunch. [Stromness Town Hall, Saturday 17 June]

Tafelmusik - Telemann's Tafelmusik including works by the great master and others, including his godfather CPE Bach, Handel and JS Bach, with coffee and buns by Eviedale Bakehouse. [St Nicholas Church, Holm, Sunday 18 June]

FINDLAY SPENCE

A CELLO ON HOY

Scottish cellist Findlay Spence brings the Festival two wonderful events which place the Orkney landscape at their heart. The first, a Cello Tour of Orkney brings the music of Bach, Berio, Boyle, Britten and Beamish to the newly refurbished Lyness Museum on Scapa Flow, the Hackness Martello Tower and the Hoy Kirk. [Hoy Kirk, Saturday 17th June]

A CELLO ON SOUTH RONALDSAY

The second takes audiences to an 18th Century church, no longer in use, that sits on the edge of the sea in South Ronaldsay to enchant them with a programme including Bach's Cello Suite No 3 in C and Wilde's The Cellist of Sarajevo, as well as a world premiere of a Festival commission; Fadhail by Padruig Morrison.

[St Peter's Kirk, South Ronaldsay, Monday 19 June]

LOWLANDS TO NORTHLANDS SERIES

This series features some fantastic musicians from the Netherlands.

NIKOLA MEEUWSEN

THE AGE OF REFINEMENT

The incredible young Dutch Pianist, Nikola Meeuwsen wowed the jury of the prestigious Amsterdam Grachtenfestival Prize last summer, making him the youngest winner to date. Their summary summing up his performance said, "Nikola Meeuwsen is characterized by his crystal clear musical thinking; in his playing, silence and movement coincide brilliantly. His train of thought is pure poetry."

[St Magnus Cathedral, Saturday 17 June]

THE RUSSIAN AND THE AMERICAN

On this, his first visit to the St Magnus Festival, he also joins the Ragazze Quartet for a performance of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet. [St Magnus Cathedral, Monday 19 June]

RAGAZZE QUARTET

THE WINTER'S JOURNEY

The all-female Netherland's based Ragazze Quartet are really challenging the string quartet genre, from performing operas to their presentation of concerts.

The first of their concerts focuses on an arrangement of Winterreise by Dutch Violist Wim ten Have. Schubert's famous emotional journey of lost love, usually a song cycle for voice piano, sees the Ragazze's joined by Dutch baritone Maarten Koningsberger. [St Magnus Cathedral, Saturday 17 June]

BACK TO BASICS

Their second programme, Back to Basics, brings a pure string quartet programme of breathtakingly beautiful music:

Mozart String Quartet No 14 'Spring', Jörg Widman String Quartet No 4 and Schubert's Death and the Maiden. [Stromness Town Hall, Sunday 18 June]

HEBRIDES ENSEMBLE

RAVEL RAVEL RAVEL

The well-known and highly respected Hebrides Ensemble join the line-up for two concerts.

The first, a programme focusing on the orchestral music of Ravel including Le Tombeau de Couperin and Mother Goose, rearranged, by Director Alasdair Nicolson for the Ensemble. [St Magnus Cathedral, Monday 19 June]

SOLSTICE OF DARK AND LIGHT: Wind Water Earth Fire

The second, a stunning experience in the Cathedral. The Promenade Concert: Solstice of Light and Dark, Wind Water Earth Fire, invites audiences to wander between soundscapes and spoken texts, mixed with live performance scattered through the vast red sandstone space. The non-stop sonic experience looks at themes climate change, nature and the turning of the seasons, the midsummer light the earth's horizons and inspirational fire of the creative artist.

The Cathedral will be lit by Neil Foulis, from the Islands and now a lighting designer who works with Scottish Opera among others.

[St Magnus Cathedral, Tuesday 20 June]

FESTIVAL CHORUS AND FESTIVAL ENSEMBLE

FAURE REQUIEM

The Festival's own Chorus, a community choir that comes together under the direction of Paul Rendall for the Festival, will perform accompanied by an ensemble of visiting performers. The performance of Faure's Requiem sees them conducted by Matthew Hamilton, the young, new director of the Hallé Chorus in Manchester, joined by soprano Hilary Cronin and the Dutch baritone Maarten Koningsberger. [St Magnus Cathedral, Sunday 18 June]

RYAN CORBETT AND AARON AKUGBO

SONGS AND PRAYERS

Both making waves nationally and internationally, home talents accordionist Ryan Corbett (BBC New Generation Artist) and trumpeter Aaron Akugbo make several appearances during the Festival. This is the first time they have performed together, marking the moment in a very beautiful old church next to the sea. [St Ninian's Kirk, Deerness, Tuesday 20 June]

AARON AKUGBO AND TOM PRITCHARD

REVERIE, REFLECTION, REMEMBRANCE

Aaron returns, alongside percussionist Tom Pritchard in St Magnus Cathedral. The programme roves from simple free improvisations to Schuman lieder and reveals the talents of percussionist Tom Pritchard as a composer. Stockhausen's work brings elements of jazz alongside lyrical melodic sounds exploring a meditative sound world for trumpet and vibraphone.

[St Magnus Cathedral, Wednesday 22 June]

ROYAL CONSERVATOIRE SCOTLAND ACCORDIONS

THE MAGNIFICENT SQUEEZEBOX

This ensemble of RCS accordion players is led by tutor Djordje Gaic and showcases the incredible performers emerging from this area of the Conservatoire's work, performing spectacularly in the round in the nave of St Magnus Cathedral. [St Magnus Cathedral, Wednesday 21 June]

ACCORDION DUO

PETROUCHKA

Ryan Corbett comes together in St Magnus Cathedral with his teacher Djordje Gaic in a programme that includes the two-accordion version of Stravinsky's Petrushka. [St Magnus Cathedral, Thursday 22 June]

ACCORDION and VIOLIN DUO

STRINGS AND BELLOWS

Each year St Magnus Festival collaborates with Live Music Now Scotland to bring their young musicians to give concerts in the Festival as well as visiting Care Homes, Day Centres and schools. The Ros-Turowska Duo - Maria Turowska and Sofia Ros - have already featured as finalists awarded highly commended at the Governors Chamber Music Competition, as well as recipients of The Horace Fellowes Medal at The Edinburgh Competition Festival in 2022. As Artists with Live Music Now Scotland, they will share with others the joy that is brought by music in many different formats and spaces. At the Festival, they will perform in Stromness Town Hall but also on the island of Shapinsay.

[Stromness Town Hall, Tuesday 20 June]

[Shapinsay Community Hall, Tuesday 20 June - Ferry leaves from Kirkwall, not included in ticket]

ACCORDION AND GUITAR

MEGAN AND CALUM

Two of the young stars of the Scottish traditional music scene. On mandolin, guitar, and vocals, Calum McIlroy demonstrates his intricate flat-picking and distinct skill in composition of lyrical melodies and narrative song - he was a finalist in the 2020 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician competition. Megan MacDonald hails from the North Highlands and her style is rooted in Scots traditional music with contemporary and world influences. Another Live Music Now Scotland collaboration.

[Sound Archive Kirkwall, Sunday 18 June]

SCOTTISH BALLET

NUTCRACKER SUITES

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Scottish Ballet makes its first appearance at the Festival with its production A Streetcar Named Desire, alongside a specially created performance of ballet classics.

[Picaquoy Centre, Friday 23 June]




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