Festival’s musical history recognised with special programme at The Halls

Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion

Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion will be performing their collaborative album, Let the Soil Play its Simple Part - Credit: Shervin Lainez

The Norfolk & Norwich Festival’s 250th anniversary programme is packed with music. From classical to contemporary and everything in between, this year’s programme blurs genres and hosts innovative sounds across the city.  

One of the best places to experience some of the amazing acts of the festival is St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls. With a history going back to the 14th century, the Halls are the perfect setting for this year’s music programme, here are some of the highlights. 

FIVE TUDOR PORTRAITS 
On Sunday, May 29, the festival’s flagship orchestras, Britten Sinfonia and Norwich Philharmonic Chorus, will join forces to crown Norfolk & Norwich Festival’s 250th anniversary with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Five Tudor Portraits in the composer’s 150th anniversary year. 

Commissioned by the Festival and premiered in St Andrew’s Hall in 1936 in a performance conducted by the composer, Five Tudor Portraits sets words by John Skelton, one-time tutor to Henry VIII. 

Moor Mother

Moor Mother is an international touring musician, poet, visual artist - Credit: Bob Sweeney

MOOR MOTHER 

If you are looking for something more contemporary, be sure to check out Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother) on Monday, May 16.  

An international touring musician, poet, visual artist, and workshop facilitator, Moor Mother defies genre and category. Her latest work, Black Encyclopedia of the Air, came out last year to critical acclaim.  

Described by Pitchfork as “the poet laureate of the apocalypse”, this performance is sure to be something special. 

Scottish composer Anna Meredith

Discover the eclectic works of Scottish composer Anna Meredith, which straddle the worlds of contemporary classical, art pop, electronica and experimental rock - Credit: Ed Miles

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ANNA MEREDITH 

Scottish composer Anna Meredith MBE will be performing her eclectic works that straddle the worlds of contemporary classical, art pop, electronica and experimental rock. 

Anna’s band of virtuosic musicians have spent the last four years touring the globe, including appearances at Glastonbury, Latitude, Transmusicales, SXSW festivals and will now be taking over St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Hall on Saturday, May 28.  

SO PERCUSSION & CAROLINE SHAW 

Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw and chamber music innovators Sō Percussion will be performing the UK premiere of their collaborative album, Let the Soil Play its Simple Part, on Wednesday, May 18. 

Sō Percussion are celebrated by audiences and presenters for a dazzling range of work, bringing to life the vibrant percussion repertoire, and for their work in education and community, creating opportunities and platforms for music and artists that explore the immense possibility of art in our time.  

This new collaboration with Caroline Shaw furthers their exploration into a world of sound that has never been heard before, definitely not one to miss. 

A performance of Billy and the Beast

Billy and the Beast is a concert for children based on Nadia Shireen’s award-winning book, performed by Britten Sinfonia - Credit: Britten Sinfonia

BILLY AND THE BEAST 

Fun for all the family, Billy and the Beast is a concert for children based on Nadia Shireen’s award-winning book from 2018. Building upon the story’s heroic and hilarious tale, musicians from Britten Sinfonia deliver a magical, musical storytelling experience like no other.  

A great way to introduce the kids to the beauty of orchestral music, performing on Friday, May 20. 

A portrait of Jenny Lind

Fairytales & Nightingales is a unique programme celebrating Jenny Lind, devised by acclaimed pianist and conductor Simon Crawford-Phillips - Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

FAIRYTALES & NIGHTINGALES 
Another special commission for the 250th anniversary is Fairytales & Nightingales, a unique programme celebrating Jenny Lind, an artist and a humanitarian whose special bond with the people of Norfolk still resonates today.  

The event is a fundraiser for Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital, paying homage to the festival’s foundations as a cathedral service fundraiser for the new Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1772. 

Charting Jenny Lind’s early life in Sweden and her fascinating circle of musical and artistic friends, the concert reimagines her career through the music of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, Robert and Clara Schuman and then follow Jenny on her path to global stardom and her visits to Norwich.  

The project is devised by acclaimed pianist and conductor Simon Crawford-Phillips. The performance will take place on Monday, May 23. 

A scene from Lost Dog’s Tales of Two Cities

Lost Dog’s Tales of Two Cities combines dance, theatre and performance in this adaptation of the Dickens classic - Credit: Camilla Greenwell

TALE OF TWO CITIES 

As well as musical giants, the Halls will also see a range of dance, theatre and performance. Part dance, part theatre, part fictionalised documentary, no-part costume drama, Lost Dog’s Tales of Two Cities is the perfect performance to experience all these art forms and encapsulates the essence of the festival.   

Their adaptation of Dickens’ 1859 novel of revolution and love focuses on the central female character Lucie, exploring her psychological complexity to rediscover the real story of this complex, troubled, funny 21st century woman.  

Come watch Dickens as you have never seen it before on Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22. 

For the full programme of Norfolk & Norwich Festival events and to book tickets, visit nnfestival.org.uk