Swaledale Festival 2024

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The award-winning Swaledale Festival returns on 25 May for its annual fortnight of music, arts and walking across Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale.

There will be fifty-five events in the area’s beautiful chapels, churches, halls and outdoor spaces, as well as five free art exhibitions.

For lovers of comedy, the hilarious Rich Hall from Montana USA will perform his one-man show Shot from Cannons at Tennants in Leyburn. Expect rants, knife-edge observations, musical interludes and lots of laughs!

Those who fondly remember The Old Grey Whistle Test will enjoy an illustrated talk on the music of The Beatles by ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris and author Colin Hall.

Folk will feature in the form of Teesside trio The Young’uns, the fabulous Carrivick Sisters, harmonica and percussion duo Will Pound and Delia Stevens, fiddle and guitar wizards Arthur Coates and Kerran Cotterell and traditional Irish supergroup The Jeremiahs.

Jazz lovers will enjoy the world-renowned master of solo jazz guitar Martin Taylor, piano and saxophone duets from John Law and Jon Lloyd and the Chris Ingham Trio’s celebration of the music of Dudley Moore at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond.

Talented local musicians will play a big part in the festivities. Listeners will be treated to the evocative sounds of Leyburn, Muker and Reeth brass bands, the Swale Singers will perform music by Puccini, Elgar, Brahms and Fauré and Richmond School Jazz Collective will perform an informal late-night session at Tennants in Leyburn.

World music will be represented by the brilliant AKA Trio featuring the sensational Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione, Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita and Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale. There will be a foot-tapping feast of Argentinian music from the celebrated London Tango Quintet, and a concert by the UK-based Ugandan vocal duo The Ganda Boys (Stevie Wonder is a fan!).

The Festival attracts a host of big classical names to the Dales. Britain’s best-known clarinettist and former BBC young musician of the year Emma Johnson will perform a musical response to the climate emergency with her thirteen-strong Orchestra for the Environment. Julian Lloyd Webber will narrate the fascinating story behind Bach’s iconic Cello Suites, with performances of the Suites by his wife and fellow cellist, Jiaxin. Celebrated cellist Raphael Wallfisch will lead an all-star performance of Olivier Messiaen’s haunting Quartet for the End of Time.

Quartets abound in this year’s Festival. Three outstanding string quartets - the Brodsky Quartet, the Villiers Quartet, and the Revolutionary Drawing Room - will play music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Richard Strauss, Alexander Goehr and Rachel Stott. The boundary-bursting string quartet Graffiti Classics will perform an all-singing all-dancing musical cabaret show for all ages, and there will be a concert by the quartet of top young trombonists, BONE-AFIDE.

Violinist Mathilde Milwidsky, who became the heroine of the 2023 Festival when she deputised for the Doric Quartet’s injured first violinist at a few hours’ notice, will return with her own trio to play Mozart, Beethoven and Ravel. And the classical gems continue with Echo Vocal Ensemble, Polish saxophone quartet The WHOOP Group, recorder virtuoso Piers Adams, piano prodigy Xiaowen Shang and top tenor James Gilchrist.

This year there are plenty of opportunities to participate. Wild food expert Jim Parums will take walkers on a foraging expedition in and around Hudswell Woods, the talented Dales artist Katharine Holmes will lead an outdoor ‘ink and a stick’ drawing session, local expert Rob Marsh will run a dry stone walling workshop and poet Mary-Jane Holmes will lead a creative walk. There will also be fun singing workshops for all abilities with The Ganda Boys and The Young’uns.

Not everyone is lucky enough to experience professional live music. For this reason, Swaledale Festival takes a selection of performances into schools and care homes each year -  free of charge. In 2024, musicians will perform in four care homes and eight schools in the local area, enabling residents and pupils to experience the thrill of live music first-hand. The Festival is also taking eleven world-class musicians into a prison for the first time, to inspire and entertain prisoners and staff.

Artistic Director Malcolm Creese says: “There’ll be a large and varied feast of outstanding music, a good selection of films, talks, art exhibitions and guided walks, and plenty of opportunities for creative participation this year, so whether you’re a music fan, an arts lover, a keen walker, or you fancy trying something new, there is plenty to enjoy!”

Booking opens on 11 March and under 25s can get tickets to all events for just £3.

For more information, and tickets, please visit: www.swalefest.org

May 25, 2024 – June 8, 2024

Swaledale
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April 18, 2024 – November 3, 2024

North Yorkshire Moors Railway, 12 Park Street, Pickering, North Yorkshire YO18 7AJ
Whitsun at the NYMR

May 27, 2024 – June 2, 2024

12 Park Street, Pickering YO18 7A
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August 14, 2024 – August 18, 2024

Thorp Perrow, Bedale DL8 2PR