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A look ahead to the 2019 festival programme in Harrogate

PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 April 2019

Harrogate International Festivals stellar summer line-up looks set to pull in the crowds (a bit of sunshine will help too) Photo: Mike Whorley

Harrogate International Festivals stellar summer line-up looks set to pull in the crowds (a bit of sunshine will help too) Photo: Mike Whorley

Mike Whorley

World-beating musicians and authors flock to Harrogate's summer festivals

Classical music headliner Eric Lu, winner of the 2018 Leeds International Piano CompetitionClassical music headliner Eric Lu, winner of the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition

James Bond, a miniature musical maestro and murders – lots and lots of murders – are heading to Harrogate. So, just your average summer in this genteel little North Yorkshire town, then.

Harrogate International Festivals has announced its programme of events for the 2019 Music Festival and it is absolutely chocka with talent, with Eric Lu, winner of the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition, headlining the classical music line-up, and the award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra leading the charge in the finals with a programme celebrating Mozart, Puccini and Brahms with guest soloist Julian Bliss, one of Britain's finest clarinettists.

The month-long summer season offers immersive arts experiences across a range of classical, jazz, folk and family events in indoor and outdoor venues across the town.

One of the highlights looks set to be 11-year-old violinist Christian Li, who is flying in from Melbourne to perform. Known as 'the little maestro with a big future', the Australian prodigy was the youngest ever winner of the Menuhin Competition – the Olympics of the violin world – with Classic FM hailing him as 'astonishing' and 'so good you might cry'.

Festival favourites Oddsocks will be creating marvellous midsummer mayhem at RHS Harlow Carr. Photo: Charlotte GrahamFestival favourites Oddsocks will be creating marvellous midsummer mayhem at RHS Harlow Carr. Photo: Charlotte Graham

Charlotte Woods, music and education manager at Harrogate International Festivals, said: 'Our 2019 events build on our 50-year legacy but, as our innovative line-up shows, we're always looking forwards. We hope audiences will be encouraged to be bold and explore new live experiences. It's truly an international affair with artists flying from all over the world to perform.'

Other award-winning young musicians on the bill include Solem String Quartet, winners of the 2014 Royal Over-Seas League Ensemble Competition, saxophonist Rob Burton, who won the woodwind category of BBC Young Musician 2018, and pianist Xinyuan Wang, who came third in 2018's Leeds International Piano Competition and was singled out for his fearless playing at breakneck speed.

This summer also sees the return of the evocative Concert by Candlelight, featuring all-male vocal ensemble, The Gesualdo Six, and festival favourites Oddsocks, who will be celebrating their 30th anniversary with a wacky take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at RHS Harlow Carr.

Kicking things off in fine style this month, the Hallé Orchestra is providing a live soundtrack to the James Bond movie Casino Royale at a one-off big screen event. If you think you can stand the sight of Daniel Craig on an enormous screen, or would like full details of any of the summer events, call the box office on 01423 562303 or visit harrogateinternationalfestivals.com.

Miniature maestro Christian Li is ready for Harrogate (but is Harrogate ready for him?) Photo: Olivier MicheMiniature maestro Christian Li is ready for Harrogate (but is Harrogate ready for him?) Photo: Olivier Miche

While you're there, you can also find out about the killer line-up for the 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which takes over Agatha Christie's favourite getaway, The Old Swan Hotel, from July 18-21.

Mari Hannah, award-winning author and festival reader-in-residence said: 'The programming committee has a reputation for attracting the finest crime writers to the festival from around the world and we've done it again. The response to this year's line-up has been incredible.'

Among the big-name guests heading to Harrogate are James Patterson, MC Beaton, Stuart MacBride, Jeffery Deaver, Belinda Bauer, Eva Dolan, Erin Kelly, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, who will be in conversation with Scotland's First Minister (and bookworm) Nicola Sturgeon.

Jo Nesbo will also launch his much anticipated new Harry Hole thriller, Knife, at the festival, and there will be a special TV panel featuring Jed Mercurio, writer of BBC smash-hits Line of Duty and The Bodyguard.

Simon Theakston, executive director of title sponsor T&R Theakston, said: 'Our celebration of the genre is the best in the world. We have yet another remarkable line-up for 2019 and it is a huge privilege to welcome one of the world's biggest selling authors, James Patterson, a remarkable advocate for reading who has donated millions to reading initiatives in schools, colleges and libraries.'

Around 90 authors from around the world will be taking part in more than 30 readings, events, discussions, debates and panels on a diverse range of subjects, including a look at how Irish fiction is exploring borders and Brexit, the rise of Antipodean Noir, the on-going controversy about the role of gratuitous violence, and how crime fiction can turn the spotlight on key social issues. 

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