At 51 years old, Perth Festival of the Arts is one of the longest-established independent arts festivals in Scotland. This year’s programme is possibly its most diverse yet, encompassing classical, international, jazz, opera and folk music, book discussions, a programme of community involvement, and myriad unique stagings. With a dual focus on contemporary arts and long-established tradition, the Festival is instrumental, if you’ll pardon the pun, in developing and promoting Perth on the arts stage through an exciting, dynamic programme of events, taking pride in supporting new and emerging artists in Scotland.
Highlights are abundant: the world’s first ukulele orchestra, George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain returns to Perth for a night of entertaining strumming and artistry, and making its Perth Festival debut, Scots Opera Project takes to the stage for two performances of The Seal-Woman, which was first performed in 1924 – a Celtic folk opera based on the mythical selkie, and the songs of the Hebrides.
Among the well-known faces from film and television are the BAFTA-winning comedian and Love Island presenter Iain Stirling, who headlines a comedy night at Perth Concert Hall, and there’s the opportunity to spend a unique evening with Hollywood actor Richard E Grant as he tells stories from his life, entwining tales from his extraordinary time in showbiz, with uplifting reflections on love and loss.
The Festival’s long-standing classical core programme welcomes musicians from across the world, such as The Marian Consort, which opens the Festival with A Winged Woman, featuring a world premiere by Electra Perivolaris; the GRAMMY award-winning Estonian National Symphony Orchestra is joined by pianist Barry Douglas with a striking programme featuring one of the greatest piano concertos ever written – Rachmaninov’s Second, while other classical highlights include A Baroque Extravaganza with Red Priest and classical chart-toppers The Ayoud Sisters (pictured) who perform their new album Arabesque at Perth Concert Hall, supported by The Lark Piano Trio.
There’s an exciting array of events for children and families, there’s an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Three Little Pigs by Children’s Classic Concerts, while opera singers Colleen and Katie present a magical musical experience for babies and toddlers; best-selling children’s author Abi Elphinstone spends a day at local schools, alongside a number of free community concerts including Perthshire Brass and students from UHI’s Popular Music Degree taking place across the city centre.
The annual Artists of The Year concert returns to St. Matthew’s Church, featuring some of the Scotland’s finest classical and traditional musicians, including violinist Briona Mannion, cellist Finn Mannion, pianist Anna Michels and rising-star accordionist Ryan Corbett. And continuing the Festival’s musical forward-momentum, there’s the return of Scotland Trending – a showcase of rising stars in music from Scotland in an acclaimed music series running all day at the city’s Ice Factory.
The Festival’s final evening promises one of Scotland’s most eminent musical ambassadors and SNJO leader Tommy Smith, who joins the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers for a literally-breathtaking international musical performance through the worlds of Earth, Wind, Fire and Storms. Also in a jazz vein, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra appear alongside special guests.
And, always of interest to Artmag readers, one of the largest annual exhibitions of contemporary Scottish art, ArTay returns by popular demand with an exciting curated exhibition of established Scottish artists and fresh new talent – an unmissable pop-up gallery in the outdoor plaza of Perth Concert Hall.