The conferment of the Freedom of the City on Van Morrison will be the highlight of the fourth annual Belfast Music Week.
Following Belfast City Council’s decision on Monday night to grant the Freedom of Belfast to ‘The Man’, the ceremony will take place at the Ulster Hall on Friday November 15. It will be followed by a free concert featuring Van and his band.
Reacting to the announcement, Van Morrison said: “Belfast is my home. It is where I first heard the music that influenced and inspired me, it is where I first performed and it is somewhere I have referred back to many times in my songwriting over the past 50 years. I am delighted and honoured to receive the Freedom of the City.”
Other highlights of Belfast Music Week, which runs from November 11 – 17, will include a series of special Ulster Hall concerts, showcasing the best in local acoustic, heavy metal, and dance music, culminating in a special tribute to Seamus Heaney with the Ulster Orchestra on Sunday 17 November.
Ticketing arrangements for all of these events will be announced in the near future.
The 2012 Belfast Music Week was the most successful yet, with more than 41,000 people attending more than 250 events in 70 venues across the city, bringing with it an associated economic impact of almost £2.1 million.
Belfast City Council is hoping that, the 2013 programme of events will be even bigger and better. Announcing details of the key headline shows at the Belfast Waterfront this afternoon (Wednesday September 18), the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtin Ó Muilleoir, stated “Over the last four years, Belfast Music Week has helped to change the image and perception of the city, especially among younger audiences. More than three-quarters of those who attended Music Week events in 2012 were aged between 16 and 34,” he pointed out.
“Furthermore, our audience surveys show that two-thirds of those questioned said that they would not have visited Belfast if they had not been going to a Music Week event – and 99 per cent of people said they would both recommend Belfast Music Week to friends and would return for future events.
“The music sector in Belfast has grown significantly over the past three years, and now plays a key role in the overall economic development of the city. With a rise in the number, and quality, of musicians and bands making headlines and enjoying success in the international marketplace, and new and innovative music businesses based in our city, events such as Belfast Music Week, and the council’s support for it, have a significant role to play in developing the music industry, appreciating the ongoing success stories which make us proud of our unique, indigenous music scene and showcasing this on the global stage.”
In addition to the Ulster Hall programme, other highlights of Belfast Music Week will include the Northern Ireland Music Prize, a live event and the announcement of the best local album of the past 12 months, at the Mandela Hall on Tuesday November 12, and the annual Belfast Music Week Showcase, at the Limelight Complex on November 14, featuring 12 top NI artists as selected by a panel of respected local and international media and music industry judges.