The 2024 line-up for a leading fixture on the classical music calendar, the Northern Aldborough Festival, has been announced.
Sir Tony Robinson, Leeds Piano Competition winner Alim Beisembayev, and one of the world’s great violin virtuosos, Viktoria Mullova, are some of the headline acts for 2024.
Tickets for the festival, which takes place 13-22 June in the north Yorkshire village, go on sale this spring.
Just half an hour from York or Harrogate, opera singers, acclaimed pianists, and jazz ensembles mingle amongst the village’s remarkable Roman history, including a prized collection of Roman artefacts and mosaics.
Robert Ogden, festival director, said: “Each year we invite a headline speaker. It’s fitting Sir Tony Robinson is this year’s guest, given the setting of our festival and its rich historic and archaeological significance. It promises to be a very special evening.”
A charity, the festival’s mission is to bring a high-end live music to its rural location, making the sleepy village that was once a prosperous Roman capital, an unlikely epicentre for classical music; 2024 marks the festival’s 30th anniversary.
This year, its music programme has a focus on championing young classical talent.
The opening night sees 25-year-old Tom Fetherstonehaugh conducting Fantasia Orchestra, which comprises some of the UK’s most exciting young musicians, alongside pianist Alim Beisembayev, who at 23 won the last Leeds Piano Competition, performing Tchaikovsky and Chopin.
Other highlights include Armonico Consort with a semi-staged production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, and the rising star of classical guitar, hailed as a ‘poet’ of the instrument, Jack Hancher.
The festival also welcomes the award-winning comedian with an opera degree, Amy Webber, as heard on BBC Radio 4, and the leading British jazz pianist Julian Joseph, hailed as one of Duke Ellington’s ‘natural-born heirs’, who performs with his trio.
Pan-flute player Adriana Babin, who at just 22 is a bona-fide star in her home country of Moldova, will perform, as will the Canadian saxophonist and Spanish accordionist – the dynamic and award-winning, Mikeleiz-Zucchi Duo.
Audiences get the chance to experience performances normally seen in the world’s biggest concert halls, in an intimate rural village setting.
There’s also the return of its nationwide hunt for the best vocal talent, with the Northern Aldborough Festival’s annual New Voices Singing Competition. With cash prizes of £7,000, and a live semi and grand-final, it promises a unique opportunity to catch rising classical vocal stars in their ascendence.
Nominees will perform in front of a remarkable judging panel, which includes one of the most sought-after conductors in the world, Edward Gardner OBE, and the celebrated English bass, Sir John Tomlinson CBE.
The competition was launched in 2023 by Northern Aldborough Festival’s director, Robert Ogden, with longstanding sponsors, in response to the funding cuts the classical music sector faced, to provide a platform for emerging vocal talent. Robert began his career as a counter tenor.
Robert added: “We’ve got some world-class musicians once more in Aldborough. It doesn’t matter if you are an aficionado of classical music, or you’re a complete novice, we hope audiences will come and experience these very special performances. The rewards of a live concert are so huge, there’s nothing like it; it’s an emotional, visceral experience that you can’t replicate on a screen. It’s a chance to hear remarkable sounds in an intimate and gorgeous countryside setting.”
Aldborough’s late-night venue ‘The Shed’ also returns for concert goers who want to continue festivities in a relaxed environment with a variety of live entertainment and refreshments.
The popular Last Night Outdoor Concert sees the UK’s biggest Queen tribute band, Majesty, perform to circa 1,000 festival-goers, who descend on the grounds of Aldborough Manor. Audiences are invited to bring a picnic and dance the night away, ending with a spectacular orchestrated firework display.