Artsbeat’s pick of the Festival at Buxton

Here are some suggestions from artsbeat for a full day out at the 2018 Buxton International Festival. Tickets are available from

Saturday  July 7

Ease into your festival days with brunch in town, followed at noon by a recital by pianist Joanna MacGregor who has an exhilaratingly wide repertoire. 

Her programme includes works which demonstrate her unique talent for reinventing the concert recital and exciting the heart and intellect with equal force.

You’ll then  just have time for a coffee at the Pavilion Arts Centre before joining former ITN newsman and Classic FM presenter John Suchet as he talks about Giuseppe Verdi the subject of his latest book at 2pm.

Following another short break you can then seamlessly drift into a concert by flautist Ashley Solomon. 

From 4.30pm you will have the chance to have some refreshment before the opera at 7.15pm. Having heard all about Verdi earlier in the day now is your chance to head for the Opera House for a performance of Alzira which is set in 16th century Peru. Your other option is to skip the opera, spend longer on dinner and wait to see Barb Jungr and John McDaniel perform the songs of The Beatles at 9pm.

Thursday July 12

It will be worth an early start at 10am to be able to listen to the acclaimed journalist Daniel Trilling talking about his book Lights in the Distance, a portrait of the European refugee crisis seem through the eyes of those experiencing it first hand. 

After a short break you will need to head to St John’s Church for an 11.30am concert by the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet who are making a return to the festival. 

After lunch you have the choice of more music with the Victoria String Quartet at 2.30pm or watching the award-winning film based on the life of Mozart, Interlude In Prague, which will be on at Buxton Cinema at 2pm. 

Both finish at 4pm giving you a chance to take a walk and have dinner before the opera Tisbe at 7.15pm. The theme is the story of Pyramus and Thisbe which is best known to us through Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

The jazz alternative is very tempting, as Sara Dowling is known to leave her audiences spellbound with her immensely emotional vocals.

Sunday July 15

This year the festival has joined forces with the British Academy to revive the spirit of the revolutionary Georgian Coffee House – the social network of its day. 

A series of talks curated by Peter Hennessy will feature a dynamic mix of speakers exploring how we look at history, ourselves and even reality itself. You can join Hennessy and Ferdinand Mount as they discuss Prime Movers – 12 provocateurs of history and life – at 9.30am.

If you fancy a Sunday lie-in then you could start your day with a concert at noon by one of the UK’s liveliest musicians, Madeline Mitchell, on violin. 

After lunch you can then enjoy the day’s opera – The Daughter of the Regiment  a co-production with Opera della Luna at 2pm. 

The headline event of the day is a specially commissioned appearance by Tony Robinson (pictured) and his friends Frances Pryor and John Gater as they share the secrets of how the TV switched a nation on to archaeology. Digging Up The Past can be seen at the Opera House at 7.30pm.

Saturday July 21

Mark Cocker is an author, naturalist and environmental teacher who grew up in Buxton, the town he credits with inspiring his love of nature. 

It will be well worth going to hear him in conversation with Mike Monaghan  at 10am, discussing why when we claim to love nature we relentlessly despoil it. 

Two young men tipped for future stardom are French horn player Alexei Watkins and pianist Alex Woolf, who in 2012 was the BBC Young Composer of the Year. Watkins is a virtuoso horn player who demonstrates the instrument in its many varied guises from poetic to powerful. You can see them at the Pavilion Arts Centre at noon. 

After lunch, head back to the centre to hear a piano recital by Christian Blackshaw who thrilled audiences last year. He will perform Schubert’s Moments Musicaux D780 and Piano Sonata in A minor D784 along with Schumann’s Fantasie in C major, Op 17.

Your after dinner choices are the fourth of the festival operas Mozart’s Idomeneo or the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.