The Bath Festival widens its appeal for 2017

Next year’s Bath Festival is hitting the streets to engage with the wider public

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The Bath Festival widens its appeal for 2017
Bath Festival launch at the Roman Baths
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Last night, the organisers of the Bath Festival announced its new direction in the city’s candlelit Roman Baths. Next year’s festival, due to take place from 19-28 May, will see the city’s Assembly Rooms transformed into a new cultural hub – where musicians can engage more directly with audiences. There will also be more of a presence in the city’s outdoor spaces with a festival village that promises free activities and pop-up performances.

As it approaches its 70th anniversary in 2018, the festival is repositioning itself, with an aim of gaining higher visibility and engagement from all the city’s dwellers... great and small. Emphasising the festival’s long heritage of bringing major international names to the city, John Cullum, the chair of Bath Festivals, is keen to promote a ‘much more visible festival’. He says: ‘By using a wide variety of spaces, in addition to Georgian buildings and churches, the streets of Bath will spring to life with outdoor performances and experiences.’

Among the confirmed line-up for next year is the Philharmonia Orchestra under Herman Blomstedt – performing Beethoven, and Brahms with pianist Martin Helmchen as soloist. The US jazz pianist Brad Mehldau – known for his blending of jazz, classical and pop forms – is also making an appearance.

The opening night’s 'Party in the City', a long-established tradition will include activities from Queen Square, up to the Circus. The use of this Georgian landmark harks back to earlier festivals, when residents would light candles in their top windows. ‘It’s Bath’s biggest night of free music and celebration of local performance with over 2,000 people taking to the stages across the city and 20,000 in attendance,’ says Cullum. ‘We want to develop it further with an increase in the amount of outdoor activity’.

The Bath Festival has joined elements from the city's former music and literature festivals under one umbrella to become a multi-arts festival (while the Bath Children's Literature Festival continues to run alongside). The team of artistic directors are David Jones from the jazz organisation Serious, James Waters who has worked at the Edinburgh and Lammemuir Festivals and literary journalist Alex Clark.

To illustrate the blending of genres, Caleb Femi – the young person’s laureate for London – gave a recital of poetry, accompanied by a solo guitarist, beside the water of the Roman Baths. This gave an enticing glimpse of what to expect at next year's festivities.

For more information on the Bath Festival click here

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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