Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Theme #5: Words and Music

In the fifth of our series written by members of the team, Manchester Literature Festival Coordinator Jon Atkin tells us the theme he's really looking forward to at this year's Festival.

Inspired by the piano-playing Filip Topol at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation at last year’s Festival, I’m really looking forward to more musical-themed events this time round. I heard about one almost by accident. At last year’s Historical Readers Day, I got talking to novelist Sarah Dunant who had just delivered a spell-binding masterclass in writing about the past. She told me that she had started to collaborate with early music group Musica Secreta on a semi-dramatised version of her atmospheric novel Sacred Hearts, about cloistered nuns in 16th-century Ferrara. The choir took the parts of the nuns, singing some of the actual music that visitors to the convent would have heard, while Dunant and a couple of actors narrated the story.

My imagination fired up, I asked her if she would be interested in bringing the event to the 2011 festival. Happily, she seemed very keen. We already had a venue in mind, as MLF had done a number of events at Manchester Cathedral, including another semi-staged event with Margaret Atwood in 2008. Things came together quite quickly after that and I’m very excited to see the event is booking up fast. So don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience a thrilling combination of words and music! Sacred Hearts will be at Manchester Cathedral on Sunday 16th October from 7.30pm. Tickets are £12/£10 concs*.

The day before, MLF presents another event featuring a melding of spoken word and music: Portrait of Words and Music (Saturday 15th October, 7.30pm, Royal Northern College of Music, £10) is a wonderful collaboration between local poet Michael Symmons Roberts and Manchester Camerata. This time, it was the Camerata that approached the Festival, looking to find new ways to present music to local audiences. We were happy to help and Michael was asked to write some new poetry in response to the specific programme for the evening.

He was the perfect choice as he has already worked with composer James MacMillan on numerous collaborative projects and so was already well versed in that milieu. It will be interesting to see how he interprets a varied musical menu which includes the "traditional" Mozart and the more "modern" Benjamin Britten. He will, of course, be reading his newly crafted poems on stage at the RNCM on the night, alongside the marvellous music. With the combination of a top poet and a leading orchestra, it sounds to me like an event no one will want to miss!

With both these events on the same weekend, audiences will be spoilt for choice when it comes to unusual and unique events, courtesy of Manchester Literature Festival. And you don’t even have to choose; simply book for both!

For full details of all events at MLF 2011 and how to book, visit the website at www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk

*If you are part of a reading group or want to arrange a night out with a group of book-loving friends, why not take advantage of our special MLF Reading Group Ticket Offer for this event. Book for four or more people and get all your tickets at the concessionary rate of £10. The offer is available online or by phoning our Box Office on 0843 208 0500 and quoting MLF Reading Group Offer at the time of booking.

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