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Lichfield Festival 2016

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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10 Days Of Fabulous Performances Of Music, Comedy, Dance etc
One of the best multi-arts festivals in the UK is returning to Lichfield this summer with a suitable focus on events, good and horrific, that happened in 1916. A packed programme of music, film, theatre, comedy, dance, visual arts and talks has been announced to mark this year's Lichfield Festival which runs from July 1-10.

Susan Calman, Lichfield Festival
Comedian Susan Calman is one of the stars of this year's Lichfield Festival

Major stars have been lined up to take part in the eclectic festival, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary, bringing together world-class musicians, actors and entertainers for a 10-day feast in the beautiful Staffordshire city. They include comedians Susan Calman and Rob Beckett, singers Kate Rusby and Claire Martin, film critic Mark Kermode, and bands and dance groups such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Ballet Cymru and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain
The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain marks the centenary of 1916 with a WWl inspired programme

In addition, there will be world premieres from composer in residence, Deborah Pritchard, a specially-commissioned production of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte, and even a light show projection on the ancient walls of Lichfield Cathedral. But running throughout the whole event is the year 1916, not least because the festival's opening night (July 1) falls on the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme in World War One. The theme surrounding the centenary of the war is explored throughout the festival with a look at the lighter side of popular entertainment of the time, from music halls and cabaret to the burgeoning medium of film.

Tine Thing Helseth
Trumpet soloist Tine Thing Helseth performs on Seven Halts On The Somme

On the opening night Manchester Camerata with conductor Ben Gernon, renowned trumpet soloist Tine Thing Helseth, and Lichfield Cathedral Chorus will present music specially commissioned for the occasion by festival composer in residence Deborah Pritchard, including the premiere of her World War One themed choral work, We Will Remember Them. And the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with conductor Martyn Brabbins and soloists including Chloe Hanslip will give the closing Lichfield Cathedral concert on Saturday 9 July with a programme featuring Colin Matthews's No Man's Land.

Chloe Hanslip
Violinist Chloe Hanslip performs with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Inbetween, the World War One theme also includes the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's funny and touching commemorative concert, When This Lousy War is Over, on July 6, and Mark Kermode introducing Charlie Chaplin's silent films The Rink and The Immigrant, made during 1916-17, with a live orchestral backdrop provided by Orchestra of the Swan.

Mark Kermode
Film presenter Mark Kermode introduces two of Charlie Chaplin's creations from 1916-17

Luxmuralis will present a light projection show onto Lichfield Cathedral on the concept of The Somme on Saturday 2 July, while children's author Roald Dahl, who was born in 1916, will see his creations Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs presented by Ballet Cymru. Other events during the festival include a Ragdoll trail around the city's shops and cafes, the Florette Festival Market, and the Malachite Theatre Company performing Hamlet, while fans of folk singer Kate Rusby can see her at Lichfield Cathedral on July 2, with comics Rob Beckett and Susan Calman at the Garrick theatre on July 4 and 7 respectively.

Ballet Cymru
Ballet Cymru help pay tribute to children's author Roald Dahl on the centenary of his birth

Sonia Stevenson, Artistic Director of Lichfield Festival, said: "What makes the festival so special and unique is its history, its setting in one of the most beautiful, historic cities in the country, and its inspiring, moving, star-studded, eclectic line-up. This year is no exception with a programme featuring major orchestras alongside star comedians, and big name authors rubbing shoulders with legends from folk and jazz. So come along in July and discover for yourself what the Lichfield Festival is all about."

Lichfield Festival enjoys the support of many contributors including its principal sponsors London-Midland and Cristaline, as well as Arts Council England, Lichfield District and City Councils, Staffordshire County Council, many local companies, individuals and over 500 friends of the Festival.
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Why? Every Form Of Entertainment Under The Sun In The One Place
When: 1-10 July 2016
Phone: 01543 306270
Where: LichfieldFestival, Donegal House, Bore Street, Lichfield, WS13 6NE
Cost: Prices vary from free entry up to £40
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