Buxton International Festival starts next week

Picture by Sussie Alhburg

One of the foremost pianists of our time, Peter Donohoe CBE, is to be the Artist-in-Residence at the Buxton International Festival this year.

It is all the more fitting as Peter gave his first public performance in the town. 

He was born in Manchester in 1953; studied at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, graduated in music at Leeds University, and went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derek Wyndham and then in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod.

In 1982 he made waves by securing the joint first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and since then he has been in high demand.

In recent seasons he has appeared with Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra; St Petersburg Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has also been a jury member for several international competitions.

At Buxton this July he will be performing in a series of four concerts at the Pavilion Arts Centre.

In the first (July 3) he offers an entirely Viennese programme; in the second (July 11) he is joined by violinist Alissa Margulis for two masterpieces of the French romantic repertoire; for the third (July 15) the two of them will be joined by the Swedish cellist Per NystrÖm for a programme including Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky.

For the final recital (July 16) Peter presents an all Russian programme including music by the neglected genius Scriabin.

The new book festival organiser Victoria Dawson says that she hopes she has created a programme for 2019 that is thoughtful and creative.

She has introduced a new idea to the festival with a series of Literary Salons.

“They are my way of bringing new ideas and characters to our  festival audience,” she says.

“Designed to be intimate, lush and rather special, they quietly introduce books and music in the bohemian setting of Edwardian Moorcroft House, exactly as the great literary hostesses did at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century,” she added.

The evenings will each be complete with a charming hostess and musical accompaniment as well as a gin aperitif. 

For artsbeat’s pick of the two-week festival that starts on July 7 see below.

More details of all events can be found at http://www.buxtonfestival.co.uk

Sunday  July 7

Start your festival adventure at the Palace Hotel at 10am listening to Sarah Ward and her crime writing friends, discussing why the best crime novels are reliant on a defined sense of place. 

You then have time for a coffee before heading to the Pavilion Arts Centre to listen to the dynamic young quartet Improviso.

After lunch it is the highlight of the day, the opera Georgiana, which is on from 2-4.30pm.

If, however, opera is not your cup of tea then take a long lunch and save yourself for a lively afternoon with Lizzie Ball and the Classical Kicks Ensemble at the Pavilion Arts Centre from 3.30-4.30pm.

Next up is Mill Songs and Georgian Chamber Music at the Pump Room. Philip Park of the Arkwright Society will be discussing mill song and its contribution to working-class Georgian England. 

Our choice for the evening is Zorada Temmingh playing the organ to silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame at St John’s Church. You can read more about that on page 18 of the online edition.

Thursday July 11

This is a take-it-easy day as you don’t have to arrive in town until noon when you will be able to see a performance by to Soprano Bethan Langford and pianist Keval Shah, who are at the forefront of a new generation of Lieder  performers. Their programme, at St John’s Church, celebrates the life of Georgiana Cavendish.

Your afternoon will be spent watching the opera Orpheus in the Underworld from Opera della Luna. The new translation by Jeff Clarke casts a satirical eye on our own society in much the same way as the original lampooned Paris.

You will then have time to walk over to The Pump Room to listen to Dr Gillian Williamson discussing the role of the Georgian seaside landlady.

In the evening you have a choice. It’s either the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, visiting Buxton for the first time and performing in the newly restored Octagon, or an audience with Kate Humble who will be talking about her lastest book as well as her work with wildlife. Ticket availability might be the deciding factor for this conundrum.

Thursday July 18

Cultural historian Anna Beer with be discussing her book Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh at 10.30am. 

A thoroughly interesting way to start your day giving you enough time afterwards to sneak a cup of coffee before going to St John’s Church for a performance by the Victoria String Quartet.

You will then need to have a quick bite to eat before heading  to the day’s opera Lucio Papirio Dittatore.

The story of family strife in pre-Imperial Rome, this forgotten gem by the Italian composer Antonio Caldara, is the perfect vehicle for the dynamic baroque ensemble La Serenissima.

After a day of classical music for the evening our choice would be The Julian Bliss Septet which will transport you back to the heady days of classic swing and jazz. 

It doesn’t finish until 9.30pm but it might still be worth trying to finish your day out listening to Bella Hardy who will be playing in the Pavilion Cafe from 9pm until 10.30pm.

Friday July 19

If you are going to do politics at the festival then it has to be with the BBC’s Nick Robinson.

Start the day early at 9am in the Pavilion Arts Centre where Nick will be discussing the future of our political parties with academic and author Martin Moore.

He will then be in conversation with Felicity Goodey talking about his career as a journalist and radio presenter.

Before lunch there is an intriguing festival walk revealing the sites of the first theatres in Buxton – long before the opera house was built. Apparently the violinist Paganini once played in the town. The walk starts at 12 noon in the tea garden at St John’s Church.
The afternoon’s entertainment will be the quartet A Good Reed? who will be playing the bassoon and contrabassoon.

At 6pm you will be able to catch the Opera Talk for some insight into Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin before heading to the evening’s peformance.The conductor is the festival’s artistic director Adrian Kelly and the music is by the Northern Chamber Orchestra.