Lesley Garrett at Stratford Music Festival

By IH Monday 17 September 2012 Updated: 27/09 13:20

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WORLD renown soprano Lesley Garrett will perform at this year's Stratford Music Festival.

She will present an evening of song, reminiscence and chat, at the Civic Hall, covering her 30 years in the classical music world, in the final concert of the festival which runs from October 13 to 21.

Festival Artistic Director Ambrose Miller said: "It's a very great pleasure indeed to have such a distinguished artist, Lesley Garrett to round off the Festival.

"Not only will she be singing and talking about her fascinating career but she will also be answering questions. I think it's an opportunity to really get to know one of our greatest British sopranos."

Opening the festival at midday on Saturday October 13 will be a specially composed fanfare, with the Harvington Bell Ringers plus trumpet, trombone and French horn students from the Birmingham Conservatoire. Church bells from three Stratford churches will also be rung in unison at noon to create a unique piece of sonic art – a first of its kind for the festival.

Fanfare composer, Sardinian-born Sebastian Dessanay, said: "I am delighted to have been approached to write the opening fanfare for such a prestigious event as the Stratford on Avon Music Festival. It’s an exciting challenge to unite such diverse musical forces as a brass trio, a group of hand bell ringers and the bells from three churches in Stratford. It’s a great opportunity to bring people together and to start the celebrations of nine days of music in the heart of England. "

The opening evening concert takes place in a new venue for the festival - St.Gregory’s Catholic Church. One of the top brass quintets in the UK, Onyx Brass will perform music by Handel, including the Suite from the Music for the Royal Fireworks and Zadok the Priest, Mozart, Finzi and Malcolm Arnold, with the Stratford Chamber Choir.

The Festival plays host to several other international stars this year including pianist, Freddy Kempf who will be returning to the Town Hall on Thursday October 18. His programme includes works by Beethoven, Chopin and Kreisleriana by Schumann - a set of eight fantastical, seemingly improvised pieces, dedicated to Chopin and regarded as one of Schumann’s finest works.

Clarinettist Emma Johnson performs on Sunday October 14 at the Shakespeare Institute with a programme which includes Weber’s Grand Duo Concertante and Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata in F minor, Op.120 No.1.

The London Handel Players give the penultimate concert in Holy Trinity Church with an evening entitled ‘The Best of Baroque’, including works by Vivaldi, Bach, Handel and Albinoni.

Other events include a family concert by duo The Classic Buskers, an evening of music from South America by the Cuban ensemble Expresion Cubana, a harpsichord recital by Steven Devine, and an evening of Elizabethan music.

The Lunchtime Series which takes place every weekday in the Town Hall often features young musicians at the start of their professional careers.

This year, the festival plays host to the Castalian String Quartet, oboist Arco van Zon with local pianist Lynn Carter, young Polish violinist Bartosz Woroch, guitar and flute duo Johan Lofving and Ye-Wei Hu and the Hepplewhite Piano Trio formed by students from the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Following the success of last year’s free ‘Buy A Beer’ concerts the festival has added an extra two concerts this year. No. 1 Shakespeare Street will host the Monday and Tuesday performances with The One Elm in Guild Street hosting the Wednesday and Thursday concerts.

Other Stratford organisations are also involved this year with the music festival. Stratford Folk Club’s venue, The Embassy Club welcomes the guitar and fiddle duo of Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys, who were finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards.

The Orchestra of the Swan has violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen as its guest soloist at the Civic Hall, and Stratford Jazz’s two events showcase Manchester group The Magic Hat Ensemble plus the acclaimed Alan Barnes and David Newton.

And for fans of trad jazz, Kenny Ball will be performing at the Civic Hall with his Jazzmen.

For tickets and further details visit www.stratfordmusicfestival.com.

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