Sound of Belfast Festival Announces 2023 Programme

Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra

Sound of Belfast Festival Announces 2023 Programme

11-day event will include a concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged with Duke Special, Joshua Burnside and more.

The Sound of Belfast music festival has announced its programme for this year’s event, taking place in venues throughout the city from 9 to 19 November. The programme features a range of concerts, talks, workshops, a music walking tour, a folk club, a record label night and more. Presented by Oh Yeah Music Centre, the festival includes artists such as indie band Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra, traditional musician Barry Kerr, Belfast Ensemble and Winnie Ama. 

Concerts and performances
From 9 to 11 November, a new work by composer Conor Mitchell will receive its world premiere at the Lyric Theatre. A co-production by the Belfast Ensemble and Outburst Queer Arts Festival, The Headless Soldier is a triptych of short operas with a libretto by Mark Ravenhill and featuring multi-media, live performance, soloists and chamber orchestra.

On 16 November at Oh Yeah Music Centre, the festival will present Safe Harbour: Concert of the Diaspora – a night of music led by musicians who have migrated to Belfast having fled their home countries due to conflict and oppression. The evening aims to act as a welcome to individuals seeking refuge in the city and to provide a showcase of their music and cultures, with people from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Ukraine and Palestine taking part. 

Indie rock band Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra will perform at The Sunflower on 17 November, featuring support from pianist and singer Clara Tracey; and on 18 November, Oh Yeah Music Centre will present a concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged performance. The concert will recreate the performance in its entirety with musicians including Duke Special, Joshua Burnside, Beauty Sleep, Wynona Bleach, Ferna and more. Tickets are £10 and all proceeds will be donated to PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland.

Also performing as part of the festival are singer-songwriter Winnie Ama (11 November); blues band No Oil Paintings (17 November); guitarist Dom Martin (17 November); Barry Kerr, Laura Kerr, Donogh Hennessy, Méabh Meir and Ó Ghlúin go Glúin (17 November); and Linley Hamilton (19 November). 

Workshops, talks, walking tour
Sound of Belfast will also present a series of workshops as part of the festival, including sessions with Barry Kerr on flute, Laura Kerr on fiddle, and Donogh Hennessy on guitar, as well as a traditional singing workshop with Méabh Meir. There will also be sessions focusing on electronic music production, music journalism, and embarking on a career as a music creator, as well as an open panel discussion on issues affecting the music community and a talk with Eric Bell – founding member and original guitarist with Thin Lizzy. 

Other events throughout the festival include a youth open mic afternoon; a city centre music walking tour; a sound walk with local musician Richard Davis reflecting on memory and the queer narratives in his songwriting; a jazz club featuring artists such as the Rodrigo Almonte Quintet and the Kevin Brady Trio featuring Bill Carrothers; and a concert by NI Opera of songs composed by Irish and Northern Irish composers. 

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Published on 19 September 2023

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