Harrogate Festival will be best ever in 50th year

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Harrogate International Festival is keen to build the town’s cultural reputation and this week announced more details on some of the attractions lined up for the annual event.

The countdown has started for the 50th year and a golden line-up of living legends will see the flagship event run throughout July in venues across the town.

CEO of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said: “We can’t wait to fling open the doors this summer for such a special year. Audiences can expect the remarkable.”

Gregory Porter, the Grammy winning jazz sensation, hailed as a ‘modern great’ headlines on 11 July.

He follows past Festival stars, such as Paloma Faith and BB King, building the Festival’s clout for delivering ground-breaking greats.

The month-long musical explosion draws on a half century legacy of excellence in classical music.

Returning to Harrogate is like a homecoming for Julian Lloyd Webber. He’s performed a dozen times, from being a Young Musician to Artist in Residence.

This year he features as guest curator. Also returning, is pianist Alfred Brendel, the smash-hit favourite John Wilson Orchestra, and the annual thespian frolics from the Oddsocks theatre troupe.

The theme for 2015 is a Sense of Place which celebrates the long heritage of delivering world-class acts and invites audiences to explore how music creates identity and crosses borders.

Global talent includes Gaelic folk star, Julie Fowlis (who sang the theme tune in Disney Pixar’s Brave) and the Montenegrin guitarist, Milos, who is a global superstar and classical-guitar phenomenon.

Julie will feature at the Royal Hall on Saturday July 25.

And Milos, found fame after topping the classical music charts in 2011, will perform his mix of traditional and pop classics from the 60s and 70s at the Royal Hall on Thursday July 18.

For La Bella Vita, the Italian Quartet, Quartetton Di Cremona present The Italian Journey.

From Iran, Mahan Esfahani is renowned as the prince who turned the Cinderella of keyboard instruments, the harpsichord, into a thing of beauty.

Closer to home, musicians of international renown re-create the Harrogate Festival Orchestra popping up with free events in the town.

They’ll also be providing the iconic ‘eek eek eek’ music for a live performance to the iconic Hitchcock movie, Psycho, in a unique event at the Royal Hall.

A spokesman said: “Psycho Live promises to be the most unique and thrilling movie experiences in town.

“Hitchcock’s Psycho is arguably one of the greatest films of all time, made unforgettable by its thrilling and spine-tingling soundtrack.

“Cue the iconic ‘Eek, eek, eek’ motif of the most famous shower scene in celluloid history, and join us for the screening of this iconic film with the soundtrack performed live by the Harrogate Festival Orchestra.”

Psycho Live! Live Screening with the Harrogate Festival Orchestra is on Saturday July 18, Royal Hall, 8pm,

On the literary side of the festival, organisers say a fascinating story is to be told by Glaswegian Michelle Mone in her rise from council tenement to luxury homes, having made a fortune from her own company along the way.

In My Flight to the Top, Michelle will appear at the Raworths Literary Lunch, in association with Yorkshire Life on Thursday July 2 at noon.

She has taken her winning business formula and applied it to all other aspects of her life.

And author MC Beaton, whose books are borrowed the most from UK libraries, will be special guest at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival on Saturday July 18 at 10.30am.

She’ll be in conversation with comedian Fred MacAuley at The Old Swan Hotel talking about her remarkable career creating 160 books, including the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin crime novels which were made into popular TV series.

Internationally acclaimed Palestinian-Israeli pianist Saleem Ashkar is the festival’s artist in residence.

A small chamber orchestra of Arab and Israeli musicians from the foundation will accompany Ashkar to Harrogate and perform works by Dvorak, Wisam Gibran and Shostakovich.

Saleem will also give a solo recital of Beethoven sonatas, Chopin, Metner and Bartok.

“I can’t wait to show off our gifted young players in Harrogate,” said Saleem.

“Through music I crossed and left behind national boundaries, I’m not making a big political statement, but the reality is that if you give a child a bigger stage (music), it’s a transformational experience.”

Saleem will perform at Harrogate’s Wesley Chapel at 7pm on Friday, July 10. He is also in concert with Polyphony Foundation at 2pm on Sunday, July 12, at the same venue.

For the full line up visit www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com. Box office: 01423 562 303 www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com