From ancient stone circles to Maori myths: the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival unveils theme for 2016

Annual International Arts Festival looks to New Zealand for an inspired cultural mix of international and home grown talent, from Tipping Point, a thrilling aerial circus by Ockham’s Razor, to tribal weaponry Maori-style.

Returning for its 44th year 2016 will offer a characteristically diverse cultural programme celebrating the very best of music, theatre, dance, circus, film, visual arts, literature and family events.

Continuing a four-year journey inspired by Stonehenge and tracing the cardinal points of the compass, 2016 will see the Festival look south to New Zealand, geographically the country most distant from the UK, drawing inspiration from the island’s rich fusion of Maori, Pacific Island and European cultures.

A curated mix of New Zealand’s finest artistic heritage from contemporary performers to Maori singers, film-makers and story-tellers, will run alongside the Festival’s unique programme of internationally acclaimed performers and home-grown commissions spanning new music, street theatre and dance.

Following five-star triumphs at the Royal Opera House and English National Opera, conductor Christian Curnyn leads his Early Opera Company in an opening weekend performance of Handel’s Acis and Galatea in the stunning surroundings of Salisbury Cathedral. Aerial circus company Ockham’s Razor presents its new show, Tipping Point, where the action veers from catastrophe to mastery as five performers transform simple five-metre metal poles into a rich landscape of images.

Kapa Haka Tale is an evening of dance, theatre and music based on the enchanting Maori myth and legend Hinemoa and Tutanekai, one of New Zealand’s finest folk stories. Fusing the native Maori ‘kapa haka’ with contemporary dance, audiences will be transported to a stunning world of ethereal digital creatures and tribal Maori art, music and song with powerful and mesmerising choreography by acclaimed New Zealand choreographer Corey Baker.

After a sell-out Festival debut in 2015, OperaUpClose is returning with a compelling new adaptation of Carmen. Set in a torrid South American landscape, this innovative production brings an intimate intensity to the popular classic, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre will once again find home in Old Wardour Castle with a new production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a magical moment to enjoy the splendour of Shakespeare in this glorious English Heritage setting.

Celebrated American singer songwriter John Grant will be performing at the City Hall, renowned for his deep, enveloping voice and brave lyrics coupled with bold, emotive performances. His style and sound have won him international acclaim and his collaborations with Sinead O’Connor, Goldfrapp, Elton John and the London Philharmonic Orchestra saw him nominated Best International Male Solo Artist at the 2014 Brit Awards.

New Zealand circus artist Thom Monckton & Finland’s Circo Aereo will present The Pianist, a contemporary solo circus performance centred on, in, under and around the grand piano. To close the Festival, Salisbury Cathedral will provide the perfect backdrop for The Philharmonia’s performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia, with New Zealander Benjamin Baker joining the orchestra for one of the best-loved violin concerti, the Tchaikovsky.

These highlights represent just some of the music, theatre, dance, and circus to form part of the 2016 Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival. Festival Director Toby Smith says, “Having looked northwards to Scandinavia and last year to the Middle East, in 2016 we reset our artistic compass to take us to the far side of the world, to the islands of New Zealand. Alongside brilliant circus and exquisite music from closer to home, our highlights this year revel in the rich Maori arts of Kapa Haka Tale as well as the laugh-out-loud comedy of The Pianist, hinting at the wider programme to be revealed in full next spring.”

Tickets are available here

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