Buxton International Festival

The 2017 Buxton International Festival is an exciting blend of world-class opera, the finest musicians in the classical music scene and popular authors and thinkers of today.

This year’s Music Series presents a rare array of international pianists and has engaged a premier programme of singers including Sarah Connolly, Roderick Williams, Alwyn Mellor and Sir John Tomlinson. Late-night concerts in the Pavilion Café are a perennial favourite showcasing the best in jazz, folk and world music including Oz Clarke and the Armonico Consort, Barb Jungr, Las Nacimientos, Lizzie Ball, Joanne Harris, Jay Rayner Quartet and Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen.

Artistic director Stephen Barlow, said: “This series of concerts is one of the most thrilling in the festival’s history. It includes a magisterial collection of internationally acclaimed pianists, indeed it is rare to see such a line-up on the same platform within 16 days.”

The line-up of popular authors in the Books Series include top historians, politicians, biographers and thinkers including Lucy Worsley talking about Jane Austen and David Starkey about Henry VIII.

You can go to http://www.buxtonfestival.co.uk to see full details of all the events.

If you want to make a day of your visit artsbeat makes some suggestions below.

Saturday July 8

Why do we love Handel’s Messiah? asks Jonathan Keates, the author of a biography of the composer, in your first event of the day at St John’s Church starting at 9am.

Follow this early start with a fascinating insight into the dealings of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee with its no nonsense chair Margaret Hodge in the Opera House at 10.15am.

You then have time to have coffee and cake before listening to pianist Paul Lewis. He will be performing at the Pavilion Arts Centre from 12-1.30pm.

After lunch the celebrated historian Michael Haag will be in conversation with Simon Seligman about The Durrells of Corfu.

He will be followed by Carol Dyhouse, a Professor of Social History an expert on glamour, talking about her book Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire.

The evening’s opera at 7.15pm is Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring and you can also attend a pre-opera talk from 6-6.30pm.

If you don’t want to see the opera you could always have dinner followed by jazz singer Barb Jungr celebrating Dylan and Cohen at the Pavilion Cafe from 9pm.

Friday July 14

The day starts with a talk by the author of celebrated works on the CIA and FBI. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones will be talking about surveillance in Britain and the US at St John’s Church at 9am.

Next up is AN Wilson who will be discussing Queen Elizabeth II, the survival of the monarchy and the case for a republic from 10.15-11.15am

You then have the choice of either having a long lunch followed by a talk by the former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at 2pm in the Opera House or also fitting in a concert by The Fitzwilliam Quartet from 12-1pm at St John’s Church.

You could also choose to listen to the quartet along with The Consone Quartet from 4.30-5.30pm when they will be performing the rare first version of Mendelssohn’s Octet.

They have come together to present an afternoon of fascinating period instrument interpretation and performance.

Thursday July 20

Not such an early start today as it begins at 10am with a talk by David Crystal who is discussing The Story of Be. He takes us through the incarnations of the most simple and unassuming verb – to be – with examples from sources as varied as Beowulf and Star Wars.

You will have time for refreshments before then going on to a performance of Il Letto by the Helios Collective at noon.  Alternatively you could join a festival walk investigating Roman Buxton from 12-1.30pm.

The afternoon will see you entertained by the broadcaster, vicar and one-time pop star the Rev Richard Coles who will be in conversation with Mike Neary about his life in the ministry from 2-3pm at the arts centre.

Music lovers will then be able to enjoy the Northern Chamber Orchestra performing Grieg, Mozart and Massenet at St John’s Church from 3.30-5pm; while others can choose to listen to Annie Gray talking about Queen Victoria’s eating habits from 4-5pm in the arts centre.

The evening opera at 7.15pm is Mozart’s Lucio Silla and the musical alternative in the cafe is a performance by Joanne Harris the bestselling author of Chocolat who joins forces with the Storytime Band at 9pm.

Saturday July 22

The last artsbeat choice has been chosen more for the intriguing mix of political guests talking about their lives.

Douglas Carswell the MP who famously dumped the Conservatives for Ukip and since being booked for this gig has now renaged on his new party will be talking about his life as a rebel at 10.15am.

Before that Mark Cocker, an environmental activist, will be talking about Lightwood Reservoir just outside Buxton and its importance to him when he was growing up in the town.

From 2-3pm Labour MP and broacaster Alan Johnson will be talking about his autobiography The Long and Winding Road.

The day’s musical offerings begin at noon in St John’s Church with The Endellion String Quartet, performing Haydn, Tippett and Brahms.

Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly will be singing alongside Joseph Middleton on piano from 3.30-5pm in the arts centre. Her solo recitals are relatively rare and, as such, special occasions.

The evening opera is Britten’s Albert Herring and there will be a pre-opera talk at 6pm.

The music in the cafe at 9pm will be jazz by Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen on their farewell tour.