Another successful year...

Another successful year...

Swaledale Festival has finished for another year, with record ticket sales and many sold-out events.

The Festival, which consisted of 63 world-class events, attracted over 7,800 audience members to 31 charming venues across the three northern-most Dales.  Performers included classical guitar masters Craig Ogden and Gary Ryan, champion brass band Brighouse and Rastrick, award-winning folk singers The Young’uns, Celtic Gypsy Klezmer group Dodo Street Band and Syrian musician Maya Youssef.  The programme also included comedy, theatre, film and stunning solos, duets and quartets - finishing with the superb Hallé Orchestra at The Garden Rooms, Tennants.  In amongst it all were quoits, impromptu clog dancing and a series of sensational art exhibitions by local artists.

Bach’s Goldberg Variations featured in outstanding concerts by pianist Angela Hewitt and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, as well as in mathematician Marcus du Sautoy’s Reeth Lecture.  It also made a surprise appearance in Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita’s enchanting performance of Bach to Baisso where world music met classical.

Participatory events were stronger than ever: from printmaking with artist Chris Moss, to fell-running with local historian Heather Hodgson, to Janet Seymour’s School of Theatre Dance - where twenty-five young dancers from the local community dazzled with ballet, jazz and folk moves.  In one special Festival moment, audience members at The Young’uns sell-out concert stood up to join in with a haunting chorus they had learned at the singing workshop that day.

Artistic Director Malcolm Creese says, “It’s been another amazing year.  We were treated to instruments as diverse as vihuelas, accordions, marimbas, harpsichord, harp, kora and qanun - not to mention the theorbo, a lute so long it needed a special vehicle of its own!  We featured national and international artists from Syria, Senegal, China, Australia, Latvia and Venezuela.  I particularly loved the puppetry and piano-playing from Slot Machine Theatre, the jaw-dropping percussion antics from Aurora Duo, the old-fashioned hilarity from Mr. Miller’s Wireless Times and the enchanting dancing from local children in Janet Seymour’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.”

The Festivities finished with a series of visits to care homes and local schools from gifted musicians, who performed for elderly residents and school children.  Headteacher of Hawes Primary School, Hanna Vasey, said: “Our children were captivated by musician Susannah Pell who came in to play the viol and the viola da gamba.  They couldn’t believe the instrument dated from the time of Henry VIII.  One child said they found the music ‘calming’ and I thought that was a brilliant thing for a young child to say.”

Swaledale Festival volunteers were recognised with the MBE for volunteer groups  – the Queens Award for Voluntary Service – the news of which was officially released half-way through the Festival.  Festival volunteers take on vital roles: event stewarding, hosting and transporting performers, box office, distributing brochures, helping with marketing activities and more.  Sir Gary Verity DL, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “It’s wonderful to hear that the hard work and dedication of the Swaledale Festival volunteers has been rewarded with such a high accolade. The volunteers should be tremendously proud of their award especially after another successful and entertaining festival this year that has showcased some amazing Yorkshire talent. Yorkshire’s festival scene is thriving and it’s all thanks to the hard work of the people behind each one.  A huge congratulations to everyone involved in creating this brilliant festival.”

Artistic Director Malcolm Creese is already working hard on next year’s Festival, the dates of which are 25 May to 8 June. 


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