Annual Malcolm Arnold Festival to return to Northampton venues next month

There are two days of performances across a weekend in Northampton followed by an online event later in the month.
The Malcolm Arnold Festival returns next month.The Malcolm Arnold Festival returns next month.
The Malcolm Arnold Festival returns next month.

The Malcolm Arnold Festival returns next month, with three days of live music to celebrate the acclaimed Northampton composer.

Sir Malcolm Arnold is renowned as one of England’s most colourful and charismatic composers.

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During his career, he wrote symphonies, concertos, chamber and choral music and music for bass and wind bands. He also produced scores for films and ballets.

The 18th annual festival is split across a weekend of live music in Northampton and an online event.

On Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15, there will be live music, talks and a masterclass at venues including the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, St Matthew's Church and Cripps Hall and Northampton School for Boys.

Director Paul Harris said: “This year's Malcolm Arnold Festival, yet again, promises to be a real feast.

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“As usual, we will be presenting a whole range of events from chamber concerts to full-scale symphonic works.

“We’re delighted to be holding the festival at the very prestigious Cripps Hall which is part of Northampton School for Boys – the very school the young Malcolm Arnold attended.”

The festival is being launched by Richard Bernard, head of Northampton School for Boys.

Opening the festival on the afternoon of Saturday, October 14, will be the Enderby Band with a programme of music for brass by Malcolm Arnold, including audience favourites such as the Scottish Dances, Peterloo Overture and Padstow Lifeboat.

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The evening's Gala Concert will see the return of the Northampton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by their Music Director and long-time Arnold champion, John Gibbons.

On the programme is one of Malcolm Arnold's lesser-known works which demonstrates his talent for working with more serious and dramatic themes.

The suite from the one-act ballet, Rinaldo and Armida, depicts the tale of crusader Rinaldo, who, on his way to the holy land is lured into the enchanted garden of the sorceress Armida and falls under her spell.

A packed programme continues the following day when the festival moves to Northampton School for Boys.

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Highlights will include a clarinet masterclass when one of the world’s most esteemed exponents, Emma Johnson, who will take three talented young performers through some of Malcolm Arnold’s most famous works for the instrument.

There will also be performances by the Nick Budd Brass Quintet and Northamptonshire County Youth Concert Band, demonstrating the exuberance of Arnold’s works for brass and wind.

BBC Radio Northampton broadcaster and Malcolm Arnold devotee John Griff will also give an insight into the composer’s famous film music.

The festival’s Grand Finale concert will be conducted by Hilary Davan and will provide the opportunity to hear Malcolm Arnold’s Oboe Concerto, Serenade for Guitar and Strings and ever-popular Symphony for Strings performed by the LGT String Orchestra – an award-winning string ensemble featuring highly talented young soloists between the ages of 13 and 23 from more than 20 nations.

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There will then be a ‘Live Stream Day’ on Sunday, October 29, which will be a day of live and pre-recorded music-making and talks, broadcast from different locations across the UK and Ireland that were of importance to Malcolm Arnold and inspired some of his most memorable music.

It will include the composer's five ballets, a newly choreographed performance of a movement from Solitaire and a special performance of Peacock in the Zoo with words by Katherine Arnold, the composer's daughter.

Mr Harris added: “Last year, which represented the second festival in which we broadcast online, we attracted over 3,000 visitors.

“A wonderful way to spread Malcolm’s glorious music to an international audience.

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“This year’s online day focusses on the ballets and we look forward to another exciting experience and reaching ever more Arnold enthusiasts around the world.”

Tickets for the different performances are available via

A full breakdown of performances and tickets for the performances are available at

Admission for students and anyone under 18-years-old is free.

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