The Holland Festival (29th May–June 23rd)
The Holland Festival explores cutting edge dance, film, music, opera, theatre, visual arts and multidisciplinary collaborations. This year Stockhausen is very much on the menu, the starting point being a screened documentary of the festival’s first performance of the composer’s notorious Helikopter-Streichquartett in 1995. That work appears in Mittwoch from the composer’s monumental Licht sequence of 7 operas. Highlights from Licht will be performed in three parts across the whole festival (see video trailer, below).
Other festival highlights include a concert by South African artist Gerhard Marx, who makes music from car parts (7th–9th); a new installation, Eight, from Michel van der Aa, mixing music theatre, virtual reality and visual arts (available throughout the festival); contemporary choral worksfrom young American composers, performed by Roomful of Teeth (15th); and a chance to hear Colin Benders’ Electro Symphonic Orchestra, where he will present a new work for modular synthesisers and multiple speakers (22nd).
The Aldeburgh Festival (7th—23rd June)
Austrian composer Thomas Larcher is composer-in-residence at this year’s festival. His works will appear throughout, with the world premiere of his Movement for Piano on 8th and the UK premiere of his opera The Hunting Gun from 7th–9th.
There will be tributes to Oliver Knussen, who was a key figure in the history of the festival, including performances of his Variations for piano,Scriabin Settings, O Hototogisu!, Prayer Bell Sketch, Ophelia’s Last Dance, Coursing and other chamber works. There is also a screening of a film that was originally made to mark the composer’s 50th birthday Oliver Knussen—Sounds from the Big White House.
Composers with premieres at the festival include Charlotte Bray, Caterina di Cecca, Edmund Finnis, Joanna Lee, Nico Muhly, Frederik Neyrinck and Freya Waley-Cohen. There is also radical performance art from Bastard Assignments, outdoor graffiti-style animated opera in Drive-by Shooting, and Listening Walks exploring the sounds of the natural environment.
St. Magnus Festival, Orkney (21–27th June)
Like the Holland Festival, St. Magnus offers much more than just music with theatre, dance, poetry, literature, visual art and the MagFest fringe. At its core however it is still very much a music festival. There is much established classical repertoire to enjoy and a good smattering of works by living composers, including by James Macmillan, Joan Tower, Alex Freeman and Arvo Pärt. There is also the chance to hear the premiere of Festival Director, Alasdar Nicolson’s Concerto for trumpet and strings Govan Stones, performed by Tom Poulson on 25th.
Holland Festival: Aus Licht Trailer