Jazz Sessions, Monteverdi Opera, ICO Performing Sam Perkin, and Brahms Series at Kilkenny Arts Festival

Theo Bleckmann

Jazz Sessions, Monteverdi Opera, ICO Performing Sam Perkin, and Brahms Series at Kilkenny Arts Festival

45th edition of the festival takes place 9–19 August.

The 45th Kilkenny Arts Festival features over 30 music performances this year including a new jazz series, the first ever production in Ireland of Monteverdi’s baroque opera The Return of Ulysses, a three-concert residency by the Irish Concert Orchestra, a ten-concert lunchtime series featuring the chamber music of Brahms, and more.

Irish Times jazz critic Cormac Larkin has programmed a new series as part of the festival – the Sofa Sessions – which brings ecletic jazz singer and composer Theo Bleckmann to Ireland. Bleckmann’s 2011 album of Kate Bush songs was widely acclaimed and his most recent album, Elegy, was released on the ECM label. The series also features rising star Irish guitarist Chris Guilfoyle, New York saxophonist John O’Gallagher, trombonist Nils Wogram plus a range of other ensembles. The Sofa Sessions take place on 14–17 August at 10pm in Billy Byrne’s.

ICO, Perkin and Widmann
Over the course of three concerts (10/14/18 August), the Irish Chamber Orchestra will combine late works by Beethoven with 21st-century music, including two works by Irish composer Sam Perkin, Nimbus and Waves (featuring percussionist Alex Petcu and formerly titled 365 Variations on a Gesture – read our review here). The ICO will also perform Jorg Widmann’s Con Brio and Carolin Widmann – who recently toured Korngold’s Concerto with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra – will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

Baroque opera
Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses will be the first time Kilkenny Arts Festival has staged a full-scale opera. A collaboration with Opera Collective Ireland, and taking place on 9–12 August at the Watergate Theatre, the performance includes singers Eoin Conway, Brendan Collins and Rachel Goode, conductor Christian Curnyn and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. It will be directed by Patrick Mason. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin will also perform a one-off programme of Italian Renaissance music on 11 August at St Canice’s Cathedral.

Lunchtime Brahms
Kilkenny’s ten-concert lunchtime Brahms series offers a chance to hear a range of chamber music by the composer at St John’s Priory, featuring artists such as Finghin Collins, Katherine Hunka, Cian Ó Dúill, Christian Elliot, Pavel Kolesnikov, Samson Tsoy, Malcolm Proud, Timothy Ridout and Quatuor Voce. The Brahms series follows the success of previous lunchtime series focussed on Bach, Mozart and Schubert. 

Also performing at the 2018 festival – which is curated by Eugene Downes, who, after five years as Festival Director, is leaving this year – are the Martin Hayes Quartet, Benjamin Appl and Pavel Kolesnikov, Brooklyn Rider violinist Johnny Gandelsman performing all six of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas in one evening; Syrian qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef, Glen Hansard and band, a solo set by fiddle-player Liz Knowles, Chamber Choir Ireland with Paul Hillier and more. 

Read our review of last year’s festival here. For full details and booking, visit www.kilkennyarts.ie.

Published on 20 June 2018

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