Strike up the band for Northampton's Malcolm Arnold music festival 2019

Northampton's 14th annual Malcolm Arnold Festival will return to the Royal and Derngate this weekend.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 6:31 pm
The weekend's events will see a performance from the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The annual weekend of live music, films and talks inspired by the life of Northampton's most famous composer will run across Saturday and Sunday (October 12 and 13) in around the theatre.

Introducing this year’s theme of ‘Partnerships’, festival dDirector Paul Harris said: "As always, we’ve tried to include music from many of the different genres represented in the composer’s extensive output.

"There is a plethora of orchestral music and we’re delighted to be welcoming five different orchestras to perform overtures, symphonies, film scores, dances and ballets and there is music for chamber ensemble, duos, solo instruments and voice.”

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Northampton's most famous composer, Malcolm Arnold.

Gala Concert to feature the BBC Concert Orchestra

This year’s Gala Concert, on Sunday 13th October, features the BBC Concert Orchestra under their Conductor Laureate, Barry Wordsworth, in what has become one of the most anticipated Derngate fixtures of the year. Showcasing two masterworks by Arnold both from the coronation year,1953; Homage to the Queen; a suite from his ballet, and the contrasting yet characteristic Symphony No.2, alongside major works by Shostakovich; his Age of Gold suite and ever-popular Piano Concerto no.2 with soloist, Rose McLachlan.

On Saturday 12th October, the evening’s programme will be given by the Northampton Symphony Orchestra under Chief Conductor and festival regular, John Gibbons. This year’s programme includes Arnold’s dramatic Peterloo Overture, together with the composer’s film music to Stolen Face – a ‘Hammer Horror’ picture, and Variations on a theme of Ruth Gipps, a fellow-composer, of whom we’ll hear more during the festival. Two evergreen Russian works complete the programme; Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, performed by Rhythmie Wong, and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture.

Young performers open the show

Young performers are always an important and integral part of proceedings and Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton will launch the Festival in style when students from the Malcolm Arnold Festival Strings and Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT) will perform the composer’s Savile Club Fanfare, second Sinfonietta and a World Premiere performance of Arnold’s 1963 one-act ballet score Electra, which was commissioned by the Royal Ballet.

Music for all ages

The festival’s family-friendly ethos resumes when regular visitors, the acclaimed Northamptonshire County Youth Orchestra, under Conductor Chris Hiscock perform the composer’s second Clarinet Concerto with soloist Samuel Austin, music from the film Trapeze and the ever-popular Scottish Dances.

Chamber gems

A series of chamber concerts include a celebration of some of the composer’s compositions for two instruments entitled ‘Arnold for two’, and ‘Guitar Fest’ which features leading guitarist, Michael Button in a recital of the composer’s works for the instrument in addition to pieces by William Walton and Timothy Bowers.

Discover more​ about Sir Malcolm Arnold

This year’s roster of guest speakers include local broadcaster and festival regular, John Griff who will be re-discovering the interviews the composer gave which reveal something of the man behind the music. Composer Matthew Taylor will discuss ‘What I learned from Malcolm’, and pianist Alice Pinto uncovers more about Malcolm’s professional relationship with Ruth Gipps – a neglected composer from the inter-war years who is now being re-discovered and recorded, whilst pianist Scott Mitchell launches his latest recording.