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Top Peak District festival launches line-up for summer extravaganza

One of the Peak District’s biggest festivals have shared its full line-up of events and performances that will be taking place at their summer event.

Buxton International Festival will be offering 17 days of operas, concerts, books and lifestyle events all day between July 7 and July 24.

Not only will there be an array of entertainment, but also the opportunity for festival goers to get involved in audience debates, singing and dancing.

Adrian Kelly, artistic director, said: “We believe that the Buxton International Festival should inspire new works and grow newer audiences.

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“The energy of our festival attracts funders, grantors, philanthropists, and sponsors for the arts because we can offer an opportunity where artists, audiences and funders can together create new works that reflect our society.

“We see our festival as a world-class stage and also an incubator of new talent and a preserver of legends and legacies.”

Here is the full list of events.

Operas and musicals

Rossini’s La donna del lago (July 8-22) – BIF’s long-awaited new production with the Northern Chamber Orchestra. An opera of love, loyalty and lochs set in the 16th-century Scottish Highlands and based on Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem.

Donizetti’s Viva la Diva (July 10-23) – A parody about a regional opera company’s preparation for a performance of an opera seria, directed by Stephen Medcalf and conducted by Iwan Davies.

Johann Hasse’s Antonio e Cleopatra (July 13-22) – The famous historical tale is relayed as a serenata , through a conversation between Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, sung by Ellie Neate and Thalie Knights.

Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park (12-21 July 12-21) – Directed by Rebecca Meltzer with libretto by Alasdair Middleton, based on Jane Austen’s novel. Waterperry.

Tom Coult’s Violet (July 18) – for one night only, this production stars Anna Dennis, Richard Burkhard, Frances Gregory and Andrew Mackenzie Wicks and is directed by Jude Christian.

Styne’s Gypsy: A Musical Fable (July 7-24) – Directed by Paul Kerryson.

Jazz programme

Jazz director Neil Hughes introduces a brand-new jazz programme for BIF including a Festival-within-a-Festival for the opening weekend.

Canadian trumpeter Jay Phelps will open BIF Jazz on July 7, and the following day, Ian Shaw and Guy Barker will launch a new show telling tales from the city.

Later that evening, a Swingtime Big Band featuring Emma Holcroft with 18 musicians led by Jez Murphy perform at the Pavilion Arts Centre. They will be joined by specials guests Ian Shaw and Guy Barker.

To end the day Buxton violinist Graham Clark and his quartet perform back at the Palace Hotel.

On July 9, The Impossible Gentleman, founded by Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker, appear with new bass and drum stars, Laurence Cottle and Ian Thomas in the Ballroom at The Palace Hotel.

On July 10, the festival features the AMC Gospel Choir, the Xhosa Cole Quartet, Clare Teal headlining a brand-new show at the Buxton Opera House with the Clare Teal Seven, and the Kirk McElhinney Trio end the first weekend.

Seven more jazz events follow during the Festival including the National Jazz Youth Orchestra and the Ray Davies Songbook.


Those attending this summer’s festival can expect to see, Our Future In Your Hands, composed by Kate Whitley and written by Laura Attridge.

The concert is in collaboration with the Royal Overseas League, with members of the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Festival’s Young Instrumentalist Programme.


The Brodsky Quartet and Manchester Camerata, both founded in Manchester and both celebrating their 50th birthdays this year will give a special joint concert with Jess Gillam.

New talent at the festival includes soprano Louise Alder, pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, the Mithras Trio (BBC New Generation Artists) and cellist Jamal Aliyev.

The English Concert will also return, this time with soprano Anna Dennis and pianist, Joanna MacGregor CBE.

BIF continues its long association with Chetham’s School of Music for its Spotlight on Chetham’s, as well as showcasing this year’s Royal Overseas League competition winner, violinist Eleanor Corr.

Iestyn Davies and Christopher Maltman both give song recitals and Fretwork, the world’s leading consort of viols, makes its Buxton debut.

Other ensembles include the Jess Gillam Ensemble, Gould Piano Trio, the Solem Quartet, the Chroma Harp Duo, the Delphine Trio and the Solus Trumpet Ensemble.


History and heritage are represented by Sir Simon Jenkins, Simon Thurley, Anna Keay and Tristram Hunt who have headed institutions from the National Trust to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Across a broad chronological sweep, the Buxton stage will also see Toby Wilkinson analysing the objects within Tutankhamun’s Tomb; Tom Nancollas discussing Britain’s maritime legacy; Robert Sackville-West and Lindsey Fitzharris offering different perspective of the immediate aftermath of the First World War; Giles Milton returning with a look at another aftermath, that of Berlin in 1945; and David Kynaston looking at the watershed moment of 1962 as part of his Tales of a New Jerusalem series.

Those interested in politics can enjoy an array of guests including Lord Patten who returns to Buxton 25 years after he negotiated the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese; Rory Stewart is a polymath and diplomat whose knowledge of the world genuinely transcends political allegiance; Lady Hale was president of the Supreme Court that delivered the judgment that the Prime Minister was wrong to suspend Parliament at a critical time for Brexit.

Iain Dale returns for ‘The Presidents’. Colleen Graffy will represent a view from within the Whitehouse, Sir Christopher Meyer participating within the British Embassy in Washington, and Justin Webb reporting for the BBC.

The Climate crisis and its environmental impact is questioned by Guardian columnist George Monbiot, while Sarah Langford and Jake Fiennes both look to a hopeful future for food, nature and British farming.

Karen Lloyd, in her new book Abundance: Nature in Recovery, looks to restoration and repair, while Tim Birkhead looks at our cultural need for the natural world.

Walks, talks and lifestyle events

The Festival’s Walks combine history and nature with short walks around Buxton and its environs.

This summer’s walk titles include Women of Note, Vera Brittain at the Devonshire Dome, All Ale and Higher Buxton, Church Matters, Common People and Wildlife Walks with Mark Cocker.

Visitors are also invited to dance with the Buxton Festival Dance Band, banter with bakers or join a sing-along of Haydn’s Creation.

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