The full detail of this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival has been unveiled, including the first visit of the prestigious Hallé symphony orchestra to the city in nearly 70 years.
The performance at The Halls on Saturday, May 27 is one of the final events of the 2023 programme, which begins on May 12 and takes in venues in Norwich and across the county.
The opening weekend features what is billed as a “two day street party” including free theatre, dance, circus and comedy, with the Saturday night capped by Gorilla Circus performing aerial circus show Unity, with dance trapeze and wire walking, in Chapelfield Gardens.
The festival is offering discount £7.50 tickets for most shows to those aged under 26, with free tickets available for selected music concerts.
During the festival, the gardens will again play host to the Adnams Spiegeltent , with international troupe Chelsea McGuffin & Co. headlining across ten nights from May 17 with their vaudevillian circus show Le Coup.
A new venue, the Festival Speak Easy, will also be put up in the gardens, hosting six shows of spoken word peformances including Rosa Torr, Jonny Fluffypunk, Brenda Read Brown, Bernadette Russell, Jess Morgan and Luke Wright.
There is a different vision of circus at the Norwich Arts Centre on May 19 and 20 with Sadiq Ali’s The Chosen Haram, a performance on two Chinese Poles telling the story of two queer men and their chance meeting through a dating app.
Norfolk-based sensory theatre makers Frozen Light return on the final weekend for a second Festival run of Fire Songs, their immersive sensory sound experience for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
Around the county, Jason Parr will present Broken Spoken, a unique Norfolk spoken word night showcasing local talent in Great Yarmouth and Neil Brand will tell the touching story of the world’s greatest comedy team in Laurel and Hardy in Diss Corn Hall.
International artists Jo Fong and George Orange will present The Rest of Our Lives, a night of dance, circus and games, in village halls around East Anglia.
Music includes a performance by conductor-less string collective 12 Ensemble and piano and percussion pair GBSR Duo; three concerts by string ensemble Solem Quartet spanning Beethoven to Kate Bush; and several performances by BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists.
Festival regulars Britten Sinfonia present Musical Everests on 21 May performing music by Britten, Tippett, Maconchy, and Phibbs. The BBC Singers will mark the 400th Anniversary of William Byrd’s death with the composer’s sacred music.
As previously announced, Leeds born virtuoso sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun will perform his debut album Anomaly, and country and bluegrass musician Rhiannon Giddens will play her Grammy Award winning album They’re Calling Me Home.
In the culmination of a three year project with the Festival, singer Jessica Walker and composer Luke Styles will perform 10 protest songs written alongside the people of Norfolk in The People’s Cabaret.
The City of Literature Weekend programme includes Caleb Azowah Nelson, Jyoti Patel, Sarah Perry, Amy Key, Dr Roopa Farooki and Raymond Antrobus. This year’s Harriet Martineau Lecture will be delivered by award-winning author and arts journalist, Charlotte Higgins on the power of art during difficult times.
The festival’s visual arts programme includes a live art trail in which the audience become pilgrims in Anne Bean’s In Search of the Miraculous; illustrator Gemma Corral at Groundwork Gallery in King’s Lynn; new works from Julian Stair in Art, Death and the Afterlife at Sainsbury Centre; and Lucy Stein and Sarah Hartnett undertaking a pilgrimage along the Mary ley line at PRIMEYARC in Great Yarmouth.
- Full information on the Norfolk & Norwich Festival website. Tickets go on sale to the public on March 1, with advanced booking for festival supporters and friends.