Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)

CORK, Ireland (dpa) ó Festival officials in the southern Irish city of Cork, official host of the European Capital of Culture for 2005, are planning to kick off the event in January with the most daring outdoor performance ever undertaken in Ireland.
The performance, entitled Awakening, which will take the River Lee as its focus, will be the largest water-based spectacle in the country, taking in more than 100 performers.
Unveiling the programme of events on Thursday [7 October], Director of Cork 2005, John Kennedy said that the over 236 projects planned for the year are aimed at "making arts accessible to people of all backgrounds."
Key contributions will be provided by Cork's community of "travellers", its asylum seekers, refugees and prisoners, as well as work by hundreds of artists and writers from around the country and abroad.
The city's name is derived from the Irish "Corcaigh", meaning "marshy place", referring to its situation on the River Lee. Cork is the second largest urban center in the Republic of Ireland, with a population of 250,000, and takes over from Genoa and Lille, as hosts of the 2004 programme.
Over 40,000 are expected to attend the official opening on January 8 in which an outdoor show, said to be the most daring outdoor performance ever undertaken in Ireland, will kick start the event.
More than 196 million euros has been invested in the year-long programme covering specific projects, many of which will be completed in January and others which will finish later in 2005.
It is expected that the event will draw some 400,000 tourists to the city. Events are mostly free or "not prohibitively priced" to attract participation from all sectors, said Kennedy.
Other features include a large sports contribution which will take in the European Union Chess Championship, the World Road Bowling Championships, Lee boat race, a mini marathon, football championship and international rugby event.
Its festival series boasts over 20 festivals including the Cork Jazz Festival, the Chamber Music Festival, and other folk, film, food and choral festivals. A lengthy series of seminars, conferences, lectures and exhibitions on all areas of the arts also feature.
Theatre productions will be presented in unconventional venues like the city's courthouse, the city market and the military barracks. Hundreds of street productions are also planned including theatre, dance, music, literature and visual arts productions.
Among the classical music highlights of the Cork 2005 programme are
  • European Quartet Week, featuring the Tokyo, Lindsay, Debussy, Casals, Contempo and Callino Quartets along with Cork's RT… Vanbrugh Quartet (25 Marchñ2 April).
  • The world premiere of John Gibson's Judith and Holofernes, a chamber opera based on the Old Testament story (28 April, part of the Cork International Choral Festival).
  • The Cork 2005 International Pipe Organ Festival (21ñ25 May).
  • The West Cork Chamber Music Festival (25 Juneñ3 July; www.westcorkmusic.ie), with a special concert on 29 June featuring Britten's Five Canticles (with Ian Bostridge, Robin Blaze, Christian Gerhaher and Julius Drake) and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (with Sara Fulgoni and John Daszak conducted by Martyn Brabbins).
  • Ireland's second performance ever of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, directed by Richard Egarr and festuring Concert Palatino (11 September).
  • "Five Centuries of Spanish Guitar", a four-day series of concerts (15ñ18 November).
More information about Cork 2005 ó Cultural Capital of Europe is available at www.cork2005.ie.

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