N&N Festival aims for wider audience

Top class music, drama, theatre and visual arts – including, in the words of its director, Jonathan Holloway, a new explosion of energy in and around the county – will mark the 2005 Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Top class music, drama, theatre and visual arts – including, in the words of its director, Jonathan Holloway, a new explosion of energy in and around the county – will mark the 2005 Norfolk and Norwich Festival. And it will accessible to more people than ever before, with lots of free events and a ticket price that will average only just over £4.

Speaking at the festival launch, at Norwich Playhouse, Mr Holloway said that while maintaining the festival's high standards, the organisers had tried to broaden its appeal to the public. Among the free events would be the spectacular opening, on Millennium Plain, by the French Transe Express group's aerial acrobatics and airborne musicians; and the festival would draw to a close on May 15 with a free family day embracing music, street theatre and workshops.

The chairman of the festival board of directors, Sir Nicholas Bacon, thanking the various sponsors – including principal sponsor One railways – also paid tribute to the organisers, whose careful management of the financial side kept them in the real world "and not in Narnia".

The 12-day festival runs from May 4-15 and there are strong programmes of classical, jazz and world music, with a concerted move by the organisers to fuse the various musical elements. To this end, Norwegian jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek returns to the festival, but this time with the Hilliard Ensemble, which specialises in pre-Renaissance music. In the ideal setting of Norwich Cathedral (May 4) listeners will be able to hear how Garbarek's evocative lines meld effortlessly with the Ensemble's close harmonies.

The "Godfather" of jazz/classical fusion, pianist Jacques Loussier, famed for his interpretation of Bach, brings his trio (Vincent Charbonnier, bass, Andre Arpino, drums) to St Peter Mancroft Church (May 5). The jazz element also includes British singer Clare Teal (May 9, St Andrew's Hall), American saxophonist Joshua Redman (May 15, St Andrew's) and trumpeter Enrico Rava (May 7, Playhouse).

Highlights for classical music fans include appearances from clarinetist Emma Johnson (May 5, John Innes Centre, May 7, St Peter Mancroft), violinist Alexander Balanescu (several performances), and a special performance of A Child of our Time – as part of the centenary celebrations for Sir Michael Tippett – with the Festival chorus and the Britten Sinfonia. A special gala concert (May 10, St Andrew's Hall) will feature the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and special guest pianist Nikolai Demidenko in a programme that includes Mahler's 5th Symphony.

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Jonathan Holloway is also bringing to Norfolk a programme of "Leftfield" events that include a charismatic bunch of Berlin-based video artists known as Gob Squad who will be making and premiering their very own film that is created in the streets of Norwich an hour before the film is aired on stage! Canadian artist Janet Cardiff will be installing her sound sculpture Forty-Part Motet which is a work based on Thomas Tallis's Spem in Alium in St Peter Parmentergate Church (May 4-15); and the world famous Luminarium, a massive inflated sculpture which will be erected in Chapelfield Gardens for all to experience a world of jewel-like colour on May 8.

Norfolk fans will also be delighted that the Nimmo Twins will be doing a three-night run at the Playhouse celebrating a decade of comedy based on poking fun at Norfolk and Norwich that began with their first gig, held 10 years ago at the Festival.

Mr Holloway finished by presenting some remarkable statistics about the festival. There will be 600 artists giving 293 performances; and the artists will also have travelled 351,000 miles in order to get to Norfolk. "That figure is rather inflated by the Russian State Symphony Orchestra travelling from St Petersburg" he remarked, "but put in perspective by the Nimmo Twins, who will be coming on the 27 bus from Hellesdon!"

# For the full listings, plus ticket details, call 01603 766400 or visit www.n-joy.org.uk

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