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Birr Hosts Festival Of Music & Voice Next Weekend

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A FEAST of great music and song comes to Birr next weekend, Friday 26th-Sunday 28th May.

This new Festival for Birr is an extension of the Trench Award, a valuable bursary awarded to an emerging classical singer or musician each year to assist in their professional career.

Six finalists which include tenor, soprano, baritone, piano and violin, will provide a wonderfully versatile programme in a Gala Concert at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre on Sunday evening (28th May, 7.30p.m.) when the recipients of the Trench Award, the Birr Lions Club Bursary and the Audience Award (sponsored by Birr Stage Guild) will be selected.

Opening the Festival are the internationally acclaimed baritone Bruno Caproni and pianist Julian Evans on Friday 26th May at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre at 8p.m. This is a major coup for Birr, as it is the first recital in Ireland by this remarkable pair. Both have performed in world's major opera and concert venues, with leading conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Sir Colin Davis, Ricardo Mutti and singers Luciano Pavarotti, Renée Fleming, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu and many more.

Now living in his family home in Tuscany, which he has restored to its former glory, Bruno was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland and studied in Belfast and at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, before gaining international acclaim as one of the world's leading Verdi baritones.

Included in their programme are some of the well-known Verdi arias from La Traviata and Un Bello in Maschera as well as favourite songs such as Ol' Man River, Goin' Home, On the Street Where You Live. Julian performs a stunning selection from Liszt, Rachmaninov and Chopin.

Saturday brings the renowned RTÉ ConTempo Quartet with a programme include Haydn's Emperor  Quartet, A Romanian Rhapsody, music from Dracula's Land and lighter fare. This is an extraordinary and highly entertaining group of musicians, known the length and breadth of Europe and often described as the 'Abba' of classical music!

On Saturday also, Violin Masterclasses will be given by RTÉ ConTempo musicians, Vocal Masterclasses by Bruno Caproni, Piano by Julian Evans at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and St Brendan's Church of Ireland. These are open and free to the public, providing a unique opportunity to observe world class artists work at close quarters.

Sunday afternoon will see the very first performance by Birr Young Voices, a newly formed children's choir at St Brendan's Church of Ireland, Oxmantown Mall (3p.m.). For this project, the festival has partnered with Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath who have provided a team of choral directors who have guided the group in lessons and workshops in Birr over the last 10 weeks. The children will as perform alongside Dylan Rooney (baritone) and Molly Wrafter (violin), both up and coming young musicians.

As if all this was not enough, all over Birr on Friday and Saturday, the shops, cafés and streets will ring with the sound of music, when classical buskers will appear and recordings will be played!

For more details and to book: www.birrtheatre.com , Box Office (057) 91 22911.

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