From new opera to Blur's Alex James this year's Northern Aldborough Festival near Knaresborough promises to be best yet

Tickets for the most-ambitious Northern Aldborough Festival in its 29-year history have gone on sale for Friends of the Festival.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 12:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 1:11 pm

The two-week festival runs from Thursday, June 16 to Saturday, June 25, with a glittering line-up of stars from jazz, classical, opera and pop descending on the beautiful village seven miles from Knaresborough.

As a charity, the festival’s core mission is to bring exceptional music and arts events to new audiences, in wonderfully intimate rural locations.

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Northern Aldborough Festival star - The hottest classical guitar player of the moment, Sean Shibe. (Picture by Kaupo Kikkas)

Highlights this year include a rare appearance by the finest British bass of his era, Sir John Tomlinson, Blur’s Britpop rebel rock star turned cheesemaker, Alex James, and the hottest classical guitar player of the moment, Sean Shibe.

Sir John Tomlinson will star in a new opera by John Casken based on Shakespeare’s King Lear. And this year will also see the biggest undertaking in the festival’s history with a semi-staged in-house production of Handel’s Theodora.

Set to be performed in Aldborough’s picturesque 14th century St Andrew’s church, the 40-strong production sees a stellar line-up of soloists, chorus and orchestra under the baton of Baroque specialist, Julian Perkins.

Theodora, played by soprano Fflur Wyn, will be directed by Joe Austin, whose recent credits include Aida at Houston Grand Opera and Katya Kabanova at the Royal Opera House.

Robert Ogden, Artistic Director of the festival, who is a counter tenor, said: “As a musician running a festival, I am really passionate to break down barriers and aim to be innovative and artistically brave. The whole team at our small music charity are committed to the idea that you shouldn’t have to travel to London for this kind of world-class live experience.”

Revellers at the festival can mingle with the stars of the festival in the intimate village setting, replete with May Pole and Roman ruins.

Aldborough’s late-night venue ‘The Shed’ will allow concert goers to extend their evening in a relaxed environment with a variety of live entertainment and refreshments.

Other acts include an evening of jazz by Claire Martin, who was described by the Times as "easily the best British singer of her generation", Julian Bliss - one of the world’s pre-eminent clarinettists - who will perform with leading pianist James Baillieu and Clare Hammond, a leading light on the UK piano scene, will play Schubert, Stravinsky and Schumann.

As well as established names, the festival supports young talent. It hosts a Young Artists Showcase, as well as the upcoming harp and saxophone duo, The Polaris Duo.

There will also be a rare chance to hear the 25-year-old Chinese American musician, Reylon Yount, who has introduced the unfamiliar instrument, the Chinese yangqin, to the world stage.

The unorthodox musician aims to use music to create connection in a fragmented world.

Sir Andrew Lawson-Tancred of Aldborough Manor will open up his Manor’s ancient grounds to entertain festival goers at the festival finale – an outdoor concert with an orchestrated fireworks display that attracts up to 1,000 people.

The last night concert features Harrogate-born vocalist Alex Denny of The Big Cheese, with high-voltage pop and rock covers, supported by So 80s, who set a light show to 80s tracks.

Friends of the Festival receive priority booking before tickets go on sale to the public next Tuesday, May 3.

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