Countdown begins to feast of festival entertainment

Festival - Singer Gregory Porter.

Festival - Singer Gregory Porter.

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By Graham Chalmers

A host of stars are heading to Harrogate for this year’s 50th Harrogate International Festival.

The flagship summer music festival, which runs throughout July in venues across the town, features a veritable line-up of living legends.

Chief executive 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 July 11.

Born in Sacramento, California, this Grammy Award-winning American jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actor won the 2014 Grammy for best jazz vocal album, Liquid Spirit.

He follows past Festival stars, such as Paloma Faith, Amy Winehouse, Jose Gonzalez 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 annual thespian frolics from the Oddsocks theatre troupe and the smash-hit favourite John Wilson Orchestra.

The latter was originally formed by Wilson in 1994 and has performed annually in the BBC Proms summer festival since 2009.

The festival’s 2015’s theme A Sense of Place celebrates its long heritage of delivering world-class acts and invites audiences to explore how music creates identity, and transcends borders, putting the ‘international’ into Harrogate Festivals.

Global talent includes Gaelic folk star, Julie Fowlis (one for the kids – she sang the theme tune in Disney Pixar’s ‘Brave’), and Montenegrin guitarist, Milos, the global superstar and classical-guitar ‘phenomenon’.

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

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

And that just scratches the surface. Don’t miss out. Check out the full line-up and book at 01423 562303 or at www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

Let us have your views on this year’s Festival line-up. Email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk or find us on facebook.