August 2013 will see the 40th Kilkenny Arts Festival bring an exciting mix of Irish and International music, theatre, dance, craft, visual arts, literature and more to the medieval city located in the South-East of Ireland. Ireland’s oldest multi-disciplinary festival is celebrating an unrivalled legacy which has seen some of the biggest names and most exciting newcomers in the arts from around the world flock to Kilkenny.
It all began in 1974, almost forty years ago when a young, tousle-haired Seamus Heaney took to the stage in the back room of Kyteler’s Inn for a reading at the very first Kilkenny Arts Festival. The poet was virtually unknown, but he held the audience spellbound, and artists have been doing just that every year in Kilkenny since.
That first year participants included Bernadette Greevy, Robert Ballagh, Louis Le Brocquy and Norah McGuinness and since 1974 the Festival has welcomed an illustrious list of guests across the art forms.
Many artists have chosen to return again and again, such as Seamus Heaney and Colm Tóibín building a very special relationship with the Festival and with Kilkenny.
Such is the reputation the Festival has built up over the past decades that Kilkenny now welcomes over 28,000 to the city annually.
Over the years the Festival team has continued to support and commission many new works, leaving its own a unique legacy of art and creativity. Due to demand booking is already open for some highlights of the 2013 Festival which will run from 9 – 18 August.
Speaking at the announcement of the first festival highlights to be go on sale Rosemary Collier, Festival Director said, “For 40 years, Kilkenny Arts Festival – or arts week as it was formerly known – has played such an important role in the cultural life of this country and is an integral part of Irish summers. To mark our 40th Festival we hope to celebrate the legacy of eclectic programming that has been presented at Kilkenny down through the years.
"We are delighted that a number of artists who have been part of Kilkenny Festival story in the past will return this year including Colm Tóibín, Irish pianist Barry Douglas and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company (UK).
"We are equally excited to be presenting four times Grammy Award winning Dawn Upshaw who will perform her first solo recital in Ireland. New works are always a key part of the Festival and we delighted to announce Festival commissions for 2013 include a piece by leading American composer Michael Gordon to be performed by The Crash Ensemble, and a brand new dance show called Dusk Ahead from Junk Ensemble.”
Following on from their highly successful Irish debut at the Festival in 2012, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is set to return to Kilkenny in August. This year, director Joe Murphy will bring another of the Bard’s great comedies to the medieval splendor of the Castle Yard: The Taming of the Shrew – with an all-female cast. Two wealthy sisters in Padua must be married off. The modest, demure Bianca has no shortage of suitors, but who on earth will take the wild, ungovernable, ‘shrewish’ Katherina? Perhaps the gold-digging Petruchio – as maddeningly strong willed and perverse as Katherina herself – will be equal to the task...
Performed on a recreated Elizabethan ‘Booth stage’, and featuring one of theatre’s great double-acts, The Taming of the Shrew is a frenetic and linguistically gymnastic screwball comedy tailor-made for this beautiful space.
GRAMMY AWARD WINNER DAWN UPSHAW
Dawn Upshaw is one of classical music’s most magnetic and groundbreaking stars and August 2013 will see her perform for the very first time in St Canice’s Cathedral Kilkenny. Few singers can boast, alongside four Grammy awards, a “genius” Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation for “enriching the landscape of contemporary music”, but Dawn Upshaw is no ordinary soprano. Even before she appeared on Henryk Górecki’s million-selling Symphony No. 3 in the early 1990s, Upshaw was feted both for the quality of her voice and for her rare ability to cut to the heart of the music. She might have been forgiven for resting on her laurels and yet, over a career spanning more than two decades, she has developed a reputation as a tireless innovator, embracing everything from Bach to Broadway show tunes while working with cutting-edge contemporary composers like Kaija Saariaho and Donnacha Dennehy. For her first ever solo recital in Ireland Upshaw will perform an intriguing programme of songs by Charles Ives, Bela Bartok, Maurice Ravel, Franz Schubert and Bolcom and will accompanied by her long-time collaborator Gilbert Kalish.