Thrilling programme launched for Birr's first ever classical music festival

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Thrilling programme launched for Birr's first ever classical music festival

A thrilling programme was launched on Thursday, March 16, for Birr’s first ever classical music festival, Birr Festival of Music & Voice this May. Running from Friday, May 26-Sunday, May 28, renowned baritone Bruno Caproni and lauded pianist Julian Evans will headline the weekend. The duo will perform at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre on Friday 26 May. Mr Caproni is a leading Verdi baritone who has performed in the world’s major opera houses while Mr Evans is a highly sought after concert pianist.

The festival will also include a performance by the RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, one of Ireland’s most exciting and vibrant chamber ensembles on Saturday, May 27. Praised as a ‘fabulous foursome, full of imaginative daring’, the quartet has performed more than 2,000 concerts in 46 countries.

Birr’s own international bass-baritone John Molloy, one of the festival organisers, was on hand to perform at the launch event at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre. He said: "To bring artists such as Bruno Caproni - in his first ever Irish solo recital - Julian Evans and the Con Tempo Quartet, is confirmation of our commitment to give emerging musical talent and audiences in the Midlands area, a high level of professional excellence."

The centrepiece of Birr Festival of Music & Voice is The Trench Award, now in its fourth year. Six Midland musicians of the future will perform a repertoire of solo instrument and song on Sunday, May 28, during which the recipient of the Trench Award 2017 and other bursaries will be selected by a distinguished panel.

Speaking at the launch, Director of Birr Festival of Music & Voice, Maureen de Forge said: "Established in 2014 as an annual bursary to assist young classical musicians and singers on the brink of professional careers, The Trench Award has become highly sought after. This year has seen the largest ever number of submissions from a wide range of voices and instruments of a very high calibre. The final six chosen will spend the Festival weekend in Birr, receiving masterclasses from distinguished experts, attending all events, and performing a wonderful Gala Concert on the Sunday. This expansion to a Festival is made possible by the generous support of the Trench Trust and other local bodies and sponsors."

A major part of the festival will also be the inaugural performance from the Birr Young Voices project. After 10 weeks of rehearsals and workshops under the direction of a professional children’s choral team, 36 local children will perform a full choral programme at St Brendan’s Church of Ireland on Sunday, May 28. Kindly supported by The Trench Trust and in partnership with Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath.

Speaking about the partnership with Birr Festival of Music & Voice, Margaret Broome, Development Officer, Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath said: "This partnership between Music Generation Offaly Westmeath and the BFM&V is undoubtedly an exciting development! This new children’s choir will bring an extraordinary opportunity for the many talented singers living in the Birr area to work alongside fantastic professional musicians as they journey to a super performance.  We look forward to working in partnership with the BFM&V to add this choir to the developing network of MGOW singing opportunities available to the children and young people of Offaly and Westmeath."

Tickets on sale now for Birr Festival of Music & Voice from www.birrtheatre.com or call (057) 91 22911.

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