Swaledale Festival begins on Saturday 25 May

Swaledale Festival begins on Saturday 25 May

The meadows are bursting into flower and Swaledale Festival is ready to spring into action. With 55 events taking place across Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale, there is plenty to anticipate, with top-notch artists coming from Yorkshire, the UK and around the world. Make the most of this two-week window to experience outstanding professional music and arts in the northern Yorkshire Dales! If you’re under 25, tickets cost just £3. Read on for some highlights.
 
Festival Patron Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason says: “It is with great excitement that I look towards Swaledale Festival this year. I was delighted to become a Patron of the Festival because of its commitment to celebrating the arts in every sense and for everyone. The Festival’s emphasis on international music, literature, and the performing and creative arts lives alongside its nurturing of rural life and the local environment. Swaledale Festival represents the heart of the community while saluting what is excellent, new, traditional or inspirational, welcoming artists from all over the UK and around the world. I am thrilled to be part of this inclusive, energetic and creative Festival and 2024 will be another wonderful year.”
 
Comedy and music in one hit
The award-winning Montana native Rich Hall is renowned for his expertly crafted tirades, quick-fire banter with audiences and characterful musical sequences. Rich, who has won the Perrier Award (Edinburgh Comedy Festival) and featured in the BBC’s QI, Live at the Apollo and Have I Got News for You, will perform his one-man show Shot from Cannons on 30 May at Tennants in Leyburn. Unmissable! 
Graffiti Classics have just one aim: to make classical music wickedly funny and fantastically exhilarating. On 8 June they’ll bring their 16 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices to Grinton with a musical comedy cabaret show. Perfect for audience members of all ages.
 
Classical
Emma Johnson, Britain’s famous clarinettist and former BBC young musician of the year, will perform a musical response to the climate emergency with the thirteen-strong Orchestra for the Environment on 6 June in Richmond. This group of hand-picked virtuoso players share concerns about the planet, endeavour to travel in the greenest way and make a point of performing music that celebrates the natural world. 
The fine string quartet Revolutionary Drawing Room will play a programme of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Puccini and Rachel Stott on 28 May in Richmond. 
Julian Lloyd Webber will narrate the fascinating story behind Bach’s iconic Cello Suites on 7 June in Grinton, with performances of the Suites by his wife and fellow cellist, Jiaxin.
The celebrated cellist Raphael Wallfisch will lead an all-star performance of Olivier Messiaen’s haunting Quartet for the End of Time on 5 June in Aysgarth.
The superb Villiers Quartet will take the stage in Grinton to perform Beethoven, Haydn & Goehr on 31 May. 
 
Jazz, World and Folk Music
Martin Taylor MBE, the Grammy-nominated jazz guitarist, composer and musical innovator widely considered to be the world’s foremost player of solo jazz guitar, will dazzle the audience in Grinton on 2 June.
British-Ugandan singers The Ganda Boys will be joined by the London-based Echo Vocal Ensemble on 27 May in Grinton to share a vocal sound both joyful and compelling. The Ganda Boys have worked with many artists since collaborating on the 2009 BBC TV series MOSES JONES and Stevie Wonder is a fan, appearing in public with them in 2019 to support their charitable work.
Multi-award-winning twins The Carrivick Sisters will perform original songs and instrumentals, along with a few carefully chosen covers, on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro and clawhammer banjo on 7 June in Low Row.
Northeast folk trio The Young’uns, renowned for their heart-on-the-sleeve storytelling, beautiful lyrics, warm harmonies and infectious repartee, will take the audience on a roller-coaster ride on Sat 8 June in Leyburn. 
 
Young Artists
Swaledale Festival’s Young Artists Platform showcases young people early in their careers, some of whom go on to become major stars.
The Whoop Group, a sensational young classical saxophone quartet from Poland, will play Vivaldi, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin on 25 May in Grinton.
Echo Vocal Ensemble, an exceptional group of young professional vocalists directed by Sarah Latto, will perform an a cappella performance of some of Britain’s most hauntingly beautiful music by William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Roxanna Panufnik and James McMillan on 26 May in Aysgarth.
BONE-AFIDE, four of Europe’s leading young trombonists, will perform an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music including Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, on 5 June in Wensley.
 
Talks and Workshops
Those who fondly remember The Old Grey Whistle Test will enjoy this year’s Reeth Lecture - an illustrated talk on the music of The Beatles by ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris and author Colin Hall on 1 June, also in Reeth.
There will be plenty of opportunities to participate this year, including singing workshops with The Ganda Boys on 27 May in Reeth, and with The Young’uns on Sat 8 June in Leyburn. Poet Mary-Jane Holmes will be back to lead her inspiring creative-writing walk on Wed 29 May in beautiful Keld.
 
Local talent
Locally-based performers this year include Swale Singers on 31 May in Arkengarthdale; Leyburn Brass Band on 28 May in Aysgarth, Reeth Brass Band on 4 June in Arkengarthdale and Muker Silver Band on 7 June in Muker Public Hall. There are also exhibitions by talented local artists including the painters Rachel Antill, Michael Bilton, Garry Brannigan and Katharine Holmes, and a photography exhibition in Keld, Farming through the Seasons, brought to us by Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected.
 
Swaledale Festival is supported by Arts Council England and runs from Saturday 25 May to Saturday 8 June 2024. The Festival is a charity and includes an extensive community and education programme which takes top musicians into care homes, schools and for the first time this year, a prison.
 

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