Wednesday, 8 May 2013


The Norfolk & Norwich Festival is one of the oldest surviving arts festivals in the UK. Its origins can be traced back to the founding of the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital in 1772 when a fund-raising concert was held in Norwich Cathedral. This concert became an annual event and in 1788 a four-day Grand Music Festival was mounted, using St Peter Mancroft Church in the morning and St Andrew’s Hall in the evening. In 1824 the Norfolk & Norwich Triennial was founded. The Triennial continued for almost one hundred years presenting a programme of concerts in St Andrew’s Hall.

Sir Henry Wood took charge of the Festival between 1908 and 1930, broadening the range of orchestral music and persuading many young English composers to perform and conduct their own compositions, including Gustav Holst (Hymn of Jesus) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (A Sea Symphony, Job) among others.

Sir Thomas Beecham was at the helm for the 1936 Festival which featured the world premières of Ralph Vaughan William’s Five Tudor Paintings and Benjamin Britten’s Our Hunting Fathers.
In 1988 the Festival became an annual event. Over the last thirty years the Festival has enjoyed a period of growth and established itself as one of the UK’s largest multiart form festivals. In 2012 National Portfolio Organisation funding status from Arts Council England was secured, enabling the Festival to increase and diversify its international programme as well as its participation and engagement work with local communities.

Here are some of the amazing events that will be going on this summer:

1. Dance Marathon

Friday 10 – Saturday 11 May 7.30pm

Step back in time and dance till you drop in this high-energy show inspired by the human endurance contests of 1920’s and 30’s America.
Part theatre, part social experiment, Dance Marathon invites you to strut your stuff to the live band. Come alone or as a group, learn some new moves or if you have two left feet – just sit back and observe the fancy footwork! Each night special guest stars will challenge you on the dance floor and there will be prizes for the winners. Don’t be shy – grab a partner and hit the dance floor!

2. Our Hunting Fathers- Britten in Norwich

Monday 13 May 7.30pm

This celebration of Britten's centenary is also a tribute to his links with the Festival. Britten heard The Sea, by his teacher, Frank Bridge, at the 1924 Festival, and its four-movement depiction of the shifting moods of the ocean is reflected in Britten's own Sea Interludes, a stirring cornerstone of the repertory.
The song cycle Our Hunting Fathers, a vocal and orchestral tour-de-force, was commissioned for the 1936 Festival, where it was conducted by Britten himself. The work has frequently been adopted by tenors, not least Peter Pears; but here the work will be performed in its original version for soprano, in the very hall in which its world premiere was given. Bridging the two Britten works is Sinfonia da Requiem, the composer's largest purely orchestral work for the concert hall and a powerful reaction to looming war. The programme closes with Britten's best-known orchestral work Four Sea Interludes from his opera Peter Grimes.

3. Ali Smith: Harriet Martineau Lecture

Tuesday 14 May 7.30pm

Ali Smith’s passion for language, endless enquiry and sense of humour make her the perfect choice to give the inaugural Norwich UNESCO City of Literature Lecture.
Martineau, the daughter of a Norwich textile manufacturer, wrote the founding text of sociology, championed the anti-slavery movement, travelled the globe, debated with the leading thinkers of her generation and was one of the first professional women journalists in the world.

4. Mozart with Puppets

Saturday 18 May 10.30am & 12.00pm

Discover the extraordinary world of puppets brought to life by the music of Mozart.
Puppeteers from the award-winning Little Angel Theatre collaborate with members of Aurora Orchestra in a show inspired by a selection of Mozart’s works including The Magic Flute Overture and his variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Magical characters and fantastical animals enact their tales as the musicians play.

5. Sam Lee & Friends

Friday 24 May 8.00pm

Sam Lee & Friends breathe new life into traditional British music to make it sound as fresh and exciting as the day it came into this world. Their Mercury-nominated debut album Ground Of Its Own reads like a musical manifesto, but without the boring bits.
Emily Portman opens, fresh from her win for Best Original Song at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Taking on folk as a contemporary art form, she weaves rich narratives into a brooding realm of faeries and folktales.

For more information visit:

Elena Vontzalidou
UEA Greek Ambassador

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