Celebrating human movement at Salisbury

LEADING musicians, athletes, dancers and artists from around the world will gather in Salisbury for this year’s International Arts Festival, running from Friday 22nd May to Saturday 6th June.

Performers will include Hofesh Shechter and his dance company, violinist Harriet Mackenzie, inspirational conductor Charles Hazlewood jazz star Jacqui Dankworth, Paralympian Ade Adepitan and world champion athlete Derek Redmond.

Over the festival’s 16 days there will be more than 100 events with artists from countries including France, Spain, India and Australia celebrating the beauty, courage and joy of human movement.

The festival, organised by Wiltshire Creative, will be a major part of Salisbury 2020: A City on the Move, marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of modern Salisbury. One of the visual highlights will be a monumental cardboard reconstruction of the lost Bell Tower in the Cathedral Close, by French artist Olivier Grossetête.

The opening concert will be Stone Songs composed by Howard Moody and featuring the Festival Chorus and La Folia musicians in a performance inspired by the medieval chants that have resonated from the Cathedral’s stones since the 13th century.

Artistic director Gareth Machin, Associate Artist violinist Harriet Mackenzie and a team of curators, have put together a diverse programme of music, theatre, film, dance, spoken word, visual arts, family and free events.

Harriet will perform Bach’s incomparable solo violin Partita in D minor alongside ballet dancers in the premiere of a new piece of choreography, Bach and Ballet, which is a co-production between Wiltshire Creative and the Liberation International Music Festival in Jersey.

Harriet will also perform as part of a performance of Cecilia’s McDowall’s Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo – an extraordinary cantata for children’s voices that tells the story of Nujeen Mustafa, the young wheelchair-bound Kurdish refugee, and her remarkable journey across Europe.

Two important concerts in the Cathedral feature the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing Dvorak’s New World Symphony in the Cathedral; and Charles Hazlewood conducting Paraorchestra, the world’s only integrated ensemble for virtuoso disabled and non-disabled musicians.

Over the middle weekend of the Festival, the focus falls on the future of Salisbury through a series of events including the European premiere of Congress, a co-production between Wiltshire Creative and Australian theatre makers All The Queen’s Men. This remarkable “citizens’ assembly” will pair local people with wordsmiths to make their maiden speeches in Salisbury Cathedral.

Comedian and broadcaster Mark Steel brings his new show to Salisbury, making the world appear more strange than it is, while Seann Walsh’s gig will mix his best-loved routines with candid new stories.

Familiar faces in the spoken word programme include Paralympian and TV documentary maker Ade Adepitan, veteran Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys, explorer Sir Robin-Knox Johnston and author and foreign correspondent Christina Lamb.

Move It! on Sunday 24th May will be a day-long fiesta of free outdoor music, sport, theatre, circus, dance and craft involving professional artists and community groups along the route from Old Sarum to Salisbury Cathedral, retracing the relocation of the Cathedral to its current site. The day will begin with a multi-faith morning service on the site of the original cathedral at Old Sarum. And it ends with the amazing work of French artist Olivier Grossetête, who, with the public’s help, will recreate the lost Bell Tower in the Cathedral Close in a stunning cardboard structure.

Family events will include free Family Fiestas in Tidworth and Bemerton, and  performances  of Dr Dolittle by Ilyria Theatre in the garden at the Rifles Museum in the Cathedral Close. There is more open air theatre with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performing Macbeth at Rack Close, in the Cathedral Close.

Free outdoor theatre, dance and circus will also feature in the popular City Encounters event in Salisbury city centre on Sunday 24th May and Bank Holiday Monday 25th May.

Visual arts exhibitions include The Makers’ Tale at Salisbury Arts Centre examining craft in contemporary life and Flow State by ceramicist Jo Taylor at Arundells in the Cathedral Close.

The theme of human movement continues in the film programme, with films of epic journeys from Steinbeck’s tragic The Grapes of Wrath, to March of the Penguins 2, and Ai Weiwei’s powerful Human Flow.

General booking opens on Friday 13th March. See the full programme at wiltshirecreative.co.uk

Pictured: Ade Adepitan, the 2020 festival image, violinist Harriet Mackenzie.