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Malcolm Arnold Festival

The eighteenth Malcolm Arnold Festival will run from 14-15 October 2023, live in Northampton, UK, with an online day on 29 October 2023


One of England's most colourful and charismatic composers, Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006), is to be celebrated across three days during October 2023 at the eighteenth International Malcolm Arnold Festival; an annual programme of events centred around the multi-faceted composer and his music. This year returning to the composer's birthplace, the city of Northampton, there will be live music, talks and a masterclass over the weekend of 14-15 October, and broadcasting from around the UK as part of a specially procured programme will be a digital live-stream day on Sunday 29 October.

Following the most ambitious Festival yet in 2022, director Paul Harris is continuing both the live and digital format with something to reach out to every listener both in person - with concerts, talks, and a clarinet masterclass to be given by Emma Johnson - as well as a specially conceived live-streamed day, linking up with performances from locations around the UK connected to the composer's eventful life.

Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006). Photo montage by Wise Music. Photos © Fritz Curzon Photography and June Mendoza
Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006). Photo montage by Wise Music.
Photos © Fritz Curzon Photography and June Mendoza

Paul Harris says:

This year's Malcolm Arnold Festival, yet again, promises to be a real feast. As usual, we will be presenting a whole range of events from chamber concerts to full-scale symphonic works. We're delighted to be holding the festival at the very prestigious Cripps Hall which is part of Northampton School for Boys – the very school the young Malcolm Arnold attended!

The Festival's live gala concert on Saturday 14 October welcomes the return of the Northampton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by their music director and long-time Arnold champion, John Gibbons. On the programme is one of Malcolm Arnold's lesser-known works which demonstrates his talent for working with more serious and dramatic themes. The suite from the one-act ballet, Rinaldo and Armida, depicts the tale of Crusader, Rinaldo, who, on his way to the Holy Land, is lured into the enchanted garden of the sorceress Armida and falls under her spell. However, Armida knows she must die if she returns Rinaldo's love.

A packed programme of entertainment continues on Sunday 15 October, when the Festival moves to the composer's school, Northampton School for Boys, for a day of live music-making and talks celebrating the composer's links.

Highlights include a clarinet masterclass when one of the world's most esteemed exponents, Emma Johnson, takes three talented young performers through some of Malcolm Arnold's most famous works for the instrument.

Live music continues throughout the day, with performances given by The Enderby Band, the Nick Budd Brass Quintet and Northamptonshire County Youth Concert Band, demonstrating the exuberance of Arnold's works for brass and wind.

BBC Radio Northampton broadcaster and Malcolm Arnold devotee, John Griff, gives an insight into the composer's famous film music.

Hilary Davan Wetton conducts the festival's grand finale concert which provides the opportunity to hear Malcolm Arnold's Oboe Concerto, the haunting Serenade for Guitar and Strings and ever-popular Symphony for Strings performed by the LGT String Orchestra – an award-winning string ensemble featuring highly talented young soloists between the ages of thirteen and twenty-three from over twenty nations.

Malcolm Arnold. Photo © Fritz Curzon
Malcolm Arnold. Photo © Fritz Curzon

Live-streamed and free-to-view, this year's celebration continues with a day of live and pre-recorded music-making and talks on Sunday 29 October 2023, broadcast from a number of locations across the UK and Ireland that were of importance to Malcolm Arnold and inspired some of his most memorable music. Featured in the programme are highlights from the composer's five ballets, including a newly choreographed performance of a movement from Solitaire, and a special performance of Peacock in the Zoo with words by the young Katherine Arnold, the composer's daughter.

Paul Harris comments:

Last year, which represented the second Festival in which we broadcast online, we attracted over three thousand visitors! A wonderful way to spread Malcolm's glorious music to an international audience. This year's online day focuses on the ballets and we look forward to another exciting experience and reaching ever more Arnold enthusiasts around the world.

Further information:

Posted 15 September 2023 by Keith Bramich



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