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    • INTERNATIONAL ARTS CHECK-IN TO BELFAST

      Thursday 05 Sep 2013

      From Brazil to Bosnia, Australia to Austria in total 24 countries will be landing in Belfast for the 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s which was officially launched today (Thursday 5th September) at the George Best Belfast City Airport. From 17th - 27th October over 70 different performances from all over the world will fill venues in all corners of the city as Ireland’s largest contemporary international arts festival takes off for its 51st year.

       
      Launching the 2013 programme Festival Director Richard Wakely commented, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is one of only a handful of European arts festivals that can deliver such diversity boasting an eclectic mix of world-class Dance, Theatre, Classical Music, Jazz, Roots based Music, Visual Arts, Talks and Film. It is exciting to welcome the international arts community to Belfast and to see these performers share the billing with our finest local talent. Together they will deliver seven Irish premieres and three UK and Ireland premieres in this year’s line-up and with 95% of all our shows priced at £16 and under it is there to be enjoyed by everyone.”

      Opening this year’s Festival on Thursday 17th October will be a first for the UK and Ireland as internationally acclaimed artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada – the Festival’s first artists in residence - reveals his huge land art portrait Wish. The transformation of eleven acres of land in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter into an anonymous portrait using cutting edge technology and revolutionary art practice will be a major talking point. Sharing the billing for opening day is world-renowned tenor José Carreras who will perform with leading Irish Soprano Celine Byrne at the Waterfront Hall.

      2013 will witness the launch of a dedicated Music Club at The Elmwood Hall. This Cabaret style venue will showcase a world of musical influences such as Jazz, Blues, Indie, Fado, Irish and more. Carminho, Portugal's brightest new star will make her Irish debut as she opens the Music Club on 18th October and will be followed by names such as; New York’s Hem, Scandinavian new-wave jazz double act Girls in Airports and Oddarrang, Copenhagen Indie rock band Efterklang, stunning vocalist Iarla O’Lionáird and Steve Cooney, one of the most sought after acts on the traditional Irish Music scene - Dervish with guests The Henry Girls, and finally, cult American blues artist Eric Bibb.
      This year’s theatre programme will deliver two Irish premieres that feature direct audience participation with Roger Bernat’s theatrical experiment in political theatre Pending Vote and the thrilling Bullet Catch from Rob Drummond which will finish its world tour as part of the Festival - both of these staged at The Lyric Theatre. Also at The Lyric the critically acclaimed Gare St Lazare Players Ireland will bring Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to Northern Ireland following performances at the Dublin Theatre Festival. Local theatre features strongly with a diverse range of performances including a historical tale from Kabosh Theatre Company in Belfast by Moonlight at St George’s Church, tales from the Shankhill in Crimea Square and an international collaboration for Belfast theatre company Prime Cut in The Conquest of Happiness at T13 in the Titanic Quarter to name a few.

      Belfast Festival will spread its wings this year as the Classical programme ventures into new and unusual venues around the city. For the first time St Gerard’s Church on the Antrim Road in North Belfast will open its doors to the arts with a performance by the one of the world’s finest vocal groups Ars Nova Copenhagen whilst the Clonard Monastery will play host to La Serenissima’s performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The Waterfront Hall will not only play host to the Festival Opening Concert but will also feature a welcome return for Sir James Galway who will perform a Musical Journey from Rodrigo to Tchaikovsky with the Ulster Orchestra. Queen’s University will provide the setting for The Royal String Quartet from Poland, Chinese American Flautist Sabrina Hu and Derry born Cahal Breslin and the highly acclaimed Brazilian group PianOrquestra. Festival favourites the Ulster Orchestra will bring Festival to a close at The Ulster Hall with The Swan Songs of Strauss – featuring the four last songs composed by Strauss before his death.

      For 2013 the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s will feature a Weekend of Dance at The MAC with two UK and Ireland premieres. Memòries d’una Puça from Catalonia’s Sol Picó Cia De Danza is a striking contemporary dance work that reflects the economic and political struggles in Spain. Originating from Belgium is Victor an emotional and beautiful duet delivering an intimate portrait of a relationship. Bringing dance into public spaces will be a newly commissioned piece from local dance group Maiden Voyage and choreographer Fearghus Ó’Conchúir as they present their piece in the Ulster Museum and The MAC Upper Gallery.

      The family programme delivers for ‘big ones’ and ‘little ones’ with an installation in Botanic Gardens offering to transport the younger children away from technology and into an imaginary world of sound, light and movement with The Strange Travel of Seynor Tonet. Whilst a collaboration with East Belfast Arts Festival and the West Belfast Féile an Phobail will promote international, award winning Tumble Circus in their new show Damn the Circus which will take place in both Belmont Park and Falls Park and is an event geared for the older family market.

      A series of thought provoking talks cover everything from best-selling author Simon Singh’s investigation of the mathematical aspects of The Simpsons to award-winning Guardian columnist Gary Younge’s interpretation of Martin Luther King. Plus, Mark Carruthers launches his new book of interviews - Alternative Ulsters, Jonathan Aitken discusses Margaret Thatcher, Bernard MacLaverty celebrates the publication of his new Collected Stories, a poetry reading with the John Hewitt Society and Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh reflects on the role of the Irish language for Republican former prisoners - all presented in association with the Belfast Book Festival. Finally, Film Noir is celebrated at QFT in association with Cornerhouse as they present 12 classics including Double Indemnity, The Killers, The Last Seduction and The Big Sleep along with a focus on Swiss Film.

      Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland said, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is firmly embedded in the heart of cultural life in Northern Ireland and has established a reputation for delivering world class, international artists and performances to local audiences. But more than that, it’s about celebrating diversity and improving access to the arts across all communities with new venues for this year’s Festival in the North, South, East and West of the City. The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is also an important contributor to the local economy, encouraging tourism and adding vitality to the City. We are proud to be part of the success and development of the Festival over the years and look forward to another unique and international Festival season.”

      Bob Collins, Chair of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s adds a massive contribution to Northern Ireland’s cultural life and international reputation. We are proud of our commitment to the festival over the last number of years because the investment of public money has enabled this defining festival to continue to aim higher than most, bringing the best and most sought-after arts, from home and abroad, within the reach of everyone.”

      The scale and diversity of this annual Festival programme would not be possible without the continuing and generous support of various public and private sponsors, including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the EU and the British Council. Plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.
      The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 17th - 27th October at venues all over the city. To find out more and book tickets visit www.belfastfestival.com or call box office on 02890 971197. ⧣BelFest