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Continuing the Yorkshire theme, Ripon Cathedral organist Andrew Bryden will give a recital in Richmond’s parish church, Trouvère Medieval Minstrels will perform their family show Reynard the Fox, and a local trio will celebrate two old-time squeeze-box players from Swaledale in It's a very old dance. As always, local brass bands, folk groups, choirs and visual artists will add flavours which can only come from this beautiful place.

The Weaver Ensemble, which brought us the stunning Loves of Mars & Venus a couple of years ago, will unveil their new production The Fairest Lady in Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal, and the 2019 Reeth Lecture will be given by language expert Professor David Crystal on the subject of English accents.

World cinema makes a significant appearance this year: independent films from Palestine and Chile will be accompanied by expert talks, we’ll be showing an iconic Flamenco dance film, and an early French art film will be accompanied by a live score for two pianists by Eric Satie. The two pianists, Richard Uttley and Kate Whitley, will also perform Stravinsky’s original scoring of his masterpiece The Rite of Spring!

Too few youngsters these days are taking up the likes of the bassoon, bass trombone, tuba, oboe and harp, and there is a real fear that professional orchestras in the future will struggle to find enough players of these instruments. So we are launching a special ‘Endangered Instruments’ focus in which expert players will perform concerts during the Festival and visit local schools to showcase their instruments and encourage children to try them out. We’ll also help youngsters to access live performances, hire or buy instruments, and receive good quality tuition.

The Festival has commissioned a major work from the influential composer Alexander Goehr - his 5th String Quartet. Professor Goehr will attend the world premiere which will be performed by the Villiers Quartet. In addition, the outstanding Esbjerg Ensemble will perform the premieres of Mark Smith’s chamber orchestra arrangements of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Mahler’s 10th Symphony - momentous works which were originally written for very large symphony orchestra, so wouldn’t ordinarily be heard here.

The 2019 Festival also contains family events, workshops, a masterclass, poetry readings, free concerts in care homes, a fell run, and guided walks in the stunning Dales landscape.

I am extremely grateful to all the Sponsors, Donors, Legacy-givers, Angels and Festival Friends who support us so generously. Sincere thanks too to our army of hard-working volunteers, without whom there would be no Festival. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is a fitting accolade.

I look forward to seeing you at the Festival!"

Malcolm Creese