Buxton International Festival’s northern lights shine brighter than ever this summer with 17 days of operas, concerts, a musical, an oratorio, books, walks, lifestyle events, and a brand-new jazz programme, providing entertainment from morning ‘til night in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District between 7 and 24 July 2022.  Alongside the Festival’s schedule of world-class live performances across its five venues, there is an emphasis on participatory events this year with lively audience debates as well as opportunities to sing, dance and walk.

Commenting Artistic Director Adrian Kelly adds:  “We believe that the Buxton International Festival should inspire new works and grow newer audiences. The energy of our festival attracts funders, grantors, philanthropists, and sponsors for the arts because we can offer an opportunity where artists, audiences and funders can together create new works that reflect our society. We see our festival as a world-class stage and also an incubator of new talent and a preserver of legends and legacies.”

CEO Michael Williams said: “Buxton International Festival continues to spread its wings, attracting visitors from all over the UK and beyond, keen to sample its world-class performances and our unique mix of events.”

OPERAS AND A MUSICAL

Headline events in this year’s Festival include five operas and a musical, including three new productions:

  • Rossini’s La donna del lago (8-22 July) – BIF’s long-awaited new production with the Northern Chamber Orchestra.  An opera of love, loyalty and lochs set in the 16th-century Scottish Highlands based on Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, The Lady of the Lake. Irish soprano Máire Flavin makes her debut at the Festival as Elena and also performing at the Festival for the first time are tenors Nico Darmanin as Uberto and John Irvin as Rodrigo. Completing the cast is mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby as Malcom, known to Buxton audiences for her performances in La finta giardiniera and The Dancing Master;
  • Donizetti’s Viva la Diva (10-23 July) – a Salzburg State Theatre production in association with BIF starring George Humphreys as Agatha and Jenny Stafford as Prima Donna.  The opera, a delightful parody about a regional opera company’s preparation for a performance of an opera seria, is directed by Stephen Medcalf and conducted by Iwan Davies;
  • Johann Hasse’s Antonio e Cleopatra (13-22 July) – a new BIF production directed by Evangeline Cullingworth in the Pavilion Arts Centre with the Buxton Festival Baroque Ensemble. The famous historical tale is relayed as a serenata, through an emotional conversation between Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, sung by Ellie Neate and Thalie Knights;
  • Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park (12-21 July) -a Waterperry Opera Festival production, starring Sian Griffiths, Milo Harries, Ellie Neate and Sarah Champion. The production is directed by Rebecca Meltzer with libretto by Alasdair Middleton based on Jane Austen’s novel. Waterperry Opera Festival makes its debut at BIF;
  • Tom Coult’s Violet (18 July) -co-commissioned and co-produced by Music Theatre Wales and Britten Pears Arts, presented in association with the London Sinfonietta.  The production stars Anna Dennis, Richard Burkhard, Frances Gregory and Andrew Mackenzie Wicks and is directed by Jude Christian and conducted by Andrew Gourlay.
  • Following the success of A Little Night Music, BIF continues its partnership with Buxton Opera House for a new production of Styne’s Gypsy: A Musical Fable (7-24 July) directed by Paul Kerryson. Book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. Original Production by David Merrick and Leland Hayward. Entire production originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Gypsy is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd.  On behalf of TamsWitmark LLC.  

NEW JAZZ PROGRAMME

New jazz director Neil Hughes introduces a brand-new jazz programme for BIF including a Festival-within-a-Festival for the opening weekend, based in a specially created jazz club at Buxton’s Palace Hotel.

Canadian trumpeter Jay Phelps opens BIF Jazz on 7 July and on 8 July Ian Shaw and Guy Barker launch a brand-new show telling tales from the city. Later that evening, a Swingtime Big Band featuring Emma Holcroft with 18 musicians led by Jez Murphy perform at the Pavilion Arts Centre joined by specials guests Ian Shaw and Guy Barker. To end the day Buxton violinist Graham Clark and his quartet perform back at the Palace Hotel.

On 9 July, The Impossible Gentleman, founded by Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker, appear with new bass and drum superstars, Laurence Cottle and Ian Thomas in the Ballroom at The Palace Hotel, a fantastic coup for BIF. On 10 July, the Festival features the AMC Gospel Choir, the Xhosa Cole Quartet, Clare Teal headlining a brand-new show at the Buxton Opera House with The Clare Teal Seven, and the Kirk McElhinney Trio end the first weekend with some mellow urban folk.   Seven more jazz events follow during the Festival including the National Jazz Youth Orchestra and the Ray Davies Songbook.

Commenting, new director Neil Hughes said: “I am so proud to be programming my first BIF Jazz season in Buxton, bringing you some the UK’s finest musicians.”

AN ORATORIO

BIF is proud to present a specially commissioned oratorio, Our Future In Your Hands, composed by Kate Whitley and written by Laura Attridge (10 and 17 July).

Over the last twenty years the global scientific community has been raising the alarm about climate change and this work, with soloists Fiona Finsbury, Rhiannon Doogan and Edward Robinson and a huge community cast, give voice to the hopes and fears of the young people who will one day inherit our world.

The concert is in collaboration with the Royal Overseas League, with members of the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Festival’s Young Instrumentalist Programme.  With thanks to the PRS Foundation, Granada Foundation, Golden Jubilee Trust (via ROSL), The D’Oyly Care Charitable Trust, Ida Carroll Trust, Borletti-Buitoni Trust, Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust, Andre Bernheim Trust, RVW Trust, Bingham Trust, Orchestra Live.

CONCERTS

The Brodsky Quartet and Manchester Camerata, both founded in Manchester and both celebrating their 50th birthdays this year will give a special joint concert with Jess Gillam. These two ensembles have been at the centre of music-making in the north since the 70s so it’s only fitting that they will be celebrating together (and separately) with concerts at Buxton. These old favourites sit alongside new talent including soprano Louise Alder, pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, the Mithras Trio (BBC New Generation Artists) and cellist Jamal Aliyev.

The English Concert returns, this time with soprano Anna Dennis and the ever-innovative pianist, Joanna MacGregor CBE.  BIF continues its long association with Chetham’s School of Music for its popular Spotlight on Chetham’s as well as showcasing this year’s Royal Overseas League competition winner, violinist Eleanor Corr.  Iestyn Davies and Christopher Maltman both give song recitals and Fretwork, the world’s leading consort of viols, makes its Buxton debut.  Other ensembles include the Jess Gillam Ensemble, Gould Piano Trio, the Solem Quartet, the Chroma Harp Duo, the Delphine Trio and the Solus Trumpet Ensemble.

BOOKS

The strength of this year’s BIF Book Festival is its sheer breadth, with insight and discussion on history, heritage, politics, pioneers, the climate crisis, the environment, mathematics, law and biographies.  This summer’s speakers are represented by the young and old, and the near and far, in Buxton and with Booker Prize winner Damon Galgut, live from Cape Town.  There is also a mash up of music and books, unique to Buxton, with musical interludes within events.

Our history and heritage are represented by Sir Simon Jenkins, Simon Thurley, Anna Keay and Tristram Hunt who have headed institutions from the National Trust to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Across a broad chronological sweep, the Buxton stage will also see Toby Wilkinson analysing the objects within Tutankhamun’s Tomb; Tom Nancollas discussing Britain’s maritime legacy; Robert Sackville-West and Lindsey Fitzharris offering a very different perspective of the immediate aftermath of the First World War; Giles Milton returning with a look at another aftermath, that of Berlin in 1945; and David Kynaston looking at the watershed moment of 1962 as part of his monumental Tales of a New Jerusalem series.

Politics is a heady cocktail with an impressive line-up of guests – Lord Patten returns to Buxton 25 years after he negotiated the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese; Rory Stewart is a polymath and diplomat whose knowledge of the world genuinely transcends political allegiance; Lady Hale was president of the Supreme Court that delivered the judgment that the Prime Minister was wrong to suspend Parliament at a critical time for Brexit. Following on from 2021’s enjoyable and provoking ‘Prime Ministers’ panel, Iain Dale returns for ‘The Presidents’ – Colleen Graffy with a view from within the Whitehouse, Sir Christopher Meyer participating within the British Embassy in Washington, and Justin Webb reporting for the BBC.

The Climate crisis and its environmental impact is questioned by Guardian columnist George Monbiot. Sarah Langford and Jake Fiennes both look to a hopeful future for food, nature and British farming. Karen Lloyd, in her new book Abundance: Nature in Recovery, looks to restoration and repair, while Tim Birkhead looks at our cultural need for the natural world.

WALKS, TALKS & LIFESTYLE EVENTS

The Festival’s Walks combine history and nature with short walks around Buxton and its environs – this summer’s walk titles include Women of Note, Vera Brittain at the Devonshire Dome, All Ale and Higher Buxton, Church Matters, Common People and Wildlife Walks with Mark Cocker.  Visitors are also invited to dance with the Buxton Festival Dance Band, banter with bakers or join a sing-along of Haydn’s Creation.

FESTIVAL TIMELINE

The full programme is announced today (Tuesday 15 February).

The Festival brochure will be available from Tuesday 15 February online and in print on Monday 28 February. 

Priority Booking opens on Tuesday, 1 March. 

Public Booking opens on Tuesday 31 March.

For further information visit: www.buxtonfestival.co.uk