May 27, 2007

Hat-trick of premieres for Arts Festival

The reputation of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival has now spread so far that three companies have decided to premiere their new productions in the town this summer.

First is the world premiere of Can’t Chain Up Me Mind by the 13-strong Grand Union Orchestra on June 30 in the Hebden Bridge Picture House. Then, on July 6 is the national premiere of Sharp Stories by the Ian McMillan Orchestra. A day later, the internationally acclaimed Godot Company present the English premiere of The Autumn Journal of Louis MacNeice.

“To have one premiere here is wonderful, but to have three means that the Festival now has the reputation and the audiences to attract some world-class entertainers and productions,” says Festival organiser Enid Stephenson.

Grand Union Orchestra is made up of virtuoso musicians including Claude Deppa, Tony Kofi, Carlos Fuentes and Andy Grappy, playing instruments ranging from the tuba to African drums and from the sax to the steel pan. The production features the vocal talents of Davina Wright and Brian Abrahams.

Part of the Festival’s Freedom Freedom programme, which celebrates the abolition of the Slave Trade, Can’t Chain Up Me Mind fuses jazz and African rhythms.

The Godot Company sold out at last year’s festival. This year, their production commemorates the centenary of Louis MacNeice and has the entirety of his finest long poem Autumn Journal (1939) at its centre, interwoven with news items of world events.

Nicknamed the John Peel of poetry, Ian McMillan blends Yorkshire words and European music. In this production, the poet, broadcaster and comedian ‘dances’ with composer and accordionist Luke Carver Goss of Szapora, creating powerful, echoing tales of milkmen, mining, heatwaves, dads, industrial manoeuvres, 9/11 and the late great Ronnie Barker.

Postal bookings opened on Monday, May 14 and programmes are available at libraries, tourist information centres other public venues, plus countless cafes, shops and pubs. 

Left to right: Louis MacNeice, Ted Hughes,
TS Elliott, WH Auden, Stephen Spender

© Mark Gerson / National Portrait Gallery, London


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