THE Honourable Irish Society is gifting Londonderry a new cantata from Pullitzer-prize winning poet Paul Muldoon and composer Mark Anthony Turnage as part of next year’s City of London Festival 2013 which will aim to reflect the historic relationship between London and Londonderry.
The organisers of the festival have announced a groundbreaking programme between June 23 to July 26 that will mark the 400th anniversary of the building of Londonderry’s historic city walls
Festival-goers will be given the chance to rediscover London’s Northern Irish connections, in a customary extravaganza of music, dance, art, film, poetry, family and participation events featuring a host of Irish and Northern Irish talent.
Following broad but interlocking themes of conflict and resolution, trees and city walls, the Festival also marks the 400th anniversary of the building of Londonderry’s historic City Walls – still completely standing, unlike London’s own – and granting of the city charter in 1613, presenting a unique perspective on a particularly significant period in history.
Speaking of the Festival’s plans for 2013, Director Ian Ritchie said: “I first came to Derry~Londonderry several years ago, when the idea of its becoming UK City of Culture was a mere twinkle in the eyes of my hosts: our purpose then was to discuss creative and cultural ways of recognising the 400th anniversary in 2013 of the continuous relationship that has existed between our two Cities.
“The accolade which was richly-deserved and won by Derry~Londonderry has inspired additional breadth in our own programming and greater depth in our mutual collaborations. “Our audiences will experience a Festival enriched artistically through our relations with Northern Ireland and I personally shall see this programme as a fitting ‘swan song’ to my eight-year tenure as the Director of City of London Festival.”
Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Culture Company 2013, an independent company formed to manage and deliver the UK City of Culture 2013 programme, said: “With a long and tumultuous past, Derry~Londonderry is now embarking upon a much welcomed renaissance, transforming physically and culturally.
“Receiving the inaugural UK City of Culture 2013 has really helped to accelerate the development of the region, providing a new story for the city to tell to the world, and delivering a lasting legacy for its people.
“Central to our City of Culture year-long celebrations is creative connections, and with this in mind we are delighted to be working with the City of London Festival in exploring the deep rooted historical links between London and Derry~Londonderry.
“We hope that some of the groundbreaking collaborations and outreach projects in partnership with this year’s Festival can help to develop the potential for the renewal of relationships between the city and London, marking a new chapter in its history.”
A series of world premières are included in the programme.
Paul Muldoon and Mark Anthony Turnage’s At Sixes & Sevens, is billed as a work of wit, seriousness and beauty and will be premièred in a double concert given simultaneously in the two Guildhalls of London and Derry by the London Symphony Orchestra and Barry Douglas’ Camerata Ireland, with adult choirs, children’s choruses and vocal soloists singing in both Cities, alongside pieces created and performed by children from the two communities.
A newly commissioned song cycle, with the working title Trees, Walls and Cities – featuring the Brodsky Quartet and mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg – will link Derry~Londonderry, the City of London, Utrecht, Berlin, Vienna, Dubrovnik, Nicosia and Jerusalem in creative reconciliation. The cycle features eight songs written by prominent local composers in partnership with their poetic ‘opposite numbers’ or sometimes using appropriate existing texts, and will reflect the transcendence of and growth beyond such barriers that divide people.
A theme running through the texts will be trees – symbolic of life, freedom, nourishment, environment, building and peace. The songs will be drawn together, with connecting music for string quartet created by the internationally acclaimed composer and humanitarian Nigel Osborne, and take the listener on a coherent journey between the styles and characters of the songs and cities.
The City of London world première and the subsequent performances of the cycle in Derry~Londonderry and each of the other featured cities will be marked with a tree-planting ceremony and locally-devised community programmes.
A new work by Northern Irish composer Frank Lyons and poet Seamus Deane, The River Still Sings, reflects continuity, promotes peace and receives its world première. This multi-media work will reflect the continuing importance of the river to Derry~Londonderry and will be narrated by the actor James Nesbitt.
Reflecting the strong links with Ireland in the 2013 Festival, multi-award-winning pianist Barry Douglas will perform a programme of Janáček, Brahms, and Schubert in the spectacular Stationers’ Hall. Winner of the Gold Prize at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in 1986, Douglas’ reputation is global and his career takes him to all the world’s major cities.
Further details on the 2013 programme will be released in early 2013 on www.colf.org.