'Abounding in Singable Tunes’ is the theme of the 12th Malcolm Arnold Festival, 14th - 15th October 2017; a weekend packed with live music, films and talks on this multi-faceted composer and his music. This year’s Gala Concert features the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor John Gibbons performing a ‘World Premiere’ film soundtrack by Malcolm Arnold and the composer’s compelling Symphony No. 5
at Royal & Derngate, Northampton:
The Malcolm Arnold Festival is now a much anticipated annual fixture in the composer’s birthplace, Northampton, taking place at the town’s dedicated arts’ venue Royal & Derngate over 14th – 15th October.
Director Paul Harris introduces this year’s theme: “We’ve called it ‘Abounding in singable tunes’ – a comment made by a notable critic in the early 1950's – a period when Arnold was establishing himself as the ‘people’s composer’ – someone who wrote music that was instantly accessible, appealing and understandable in a time when music was moving in all sorts of new and strange directions. Arnold’s music is indeed tuneful, but his compositional prowess is also of exceptionally high standing: his use of melody, structure and harmony puts him among the very greatest composers of the 20th century.”
Paul Harris, who is a composer himself as well as one of the UK's leading educationalists and Malcolm Arnold's co-biographer, has worked tirelessly over the last decade to present the composer's genre in an accessible and exciting format for both enthusiasts of the music and to introduce it to those who are less familiar.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Gala Concert and World Premiere performance
This year’s Gala concert on Sunday 15th October programmes Edvard Grieg’s ever-popular Piano Concerto performed by Latvian pianist Arta Arnicane, and showcases Malcolm Arnold’s diversity with music from his award-winning film soundtrack ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, a World Premiere of a lost film score; ‘Heroes of Telemark’, and concludes with the compelling Symphony No 5 - one of the composer’s most characteristic works. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by John Gibbons who is ideally suited as a committed programmer, educator and enthusiast of British music himself.
Live music, films and talks on this multi-faceted composer and his music
There will be a live performance of ‘Mr Pye, an island’; a radio play with music by Malcolm Arnold which will be the first production since its original broadcast exactly 60 years ago. Featured artists include the Rushden Town Band, and Flautist Jenny Dyson who will be bringing her Quintet to perform music written during the war years by Arnold, Alwyn, Martinu and Messiaen. A Song Recital will be given by soprano, Claire Thompson and pianist, Scott Mitchell, including the World Premiere of Arnold’s complete cycle ‘Kensington Gardens’. Following last year’s exhilarating concert of works by Malcolm Arnold given by the Janus Ensemble conducted by Ben Palmer, the ensemble return to perform another programme featuring the composer’s Concertino’s for Recorder, Flute, Oboe and strings.
The Festival’s popular Family Concert includes a specially commissioned work for solo harmonica, massed children on harmonicas and orchestra by Timothy Bowers, together with family-favourites including Arnold’s famous Suite from ‘The Belles of St Trinian's (1954) and John Williams’ ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993) performed by the Glasgow Philharmonia conducted by Ross Gunning and Philip Achille on harmonica.
Broadcaster John Griff will present his illustrated talk on ‘The Forgotten Documentaries’ and special guest and former dancer, teacher and artistic director of the Royal Ballet, Dame Monica Mason, will talk on the composer’s ballets. Opening the Festival this year will be David Mellor, who campaigned to obtain the composer his knighthood.