Magnard Ensemble - CMF 20 November 20152016 marks the 29th Aberystwyth Musicfest, as Aberystwyth once again hosts the classical music festival and international summer school for eight days.  Over 80 concerts, recitals, performances, masterclasses, showcases, classes, exhibitions and talks will be taking place as internationally renowned musicians take residence in Aberystwyth performing in the concerts and tutoring on the summer school.

Highlights for the 2016 festival concert programme include the return of the Orion Orchestra who are resident for the whole week working with the International Summer School Conducting Course. The Orion Orchestra are conducted by Toby Purser who was recently awarded the English National Opera’s Charles Mackerras Fellowship. The orchestra will be performing two concerts; on Wednesday 27th July they will perform Neville John’s Tragic Overture ‘Aberfan’ and three Arias by Mozart performed by stunning soprano Raphaela Papadakis, and in the final concert on Saturday 30th July they will perform Tchaikovsky’s ‘Variations on a Rococo Theme’ with cellist Guy Johnston.

Guy JohnstonGuy is returning to Aberystwyth for the first time in three years and will also be performing on Friday 29th July, three piano trios by Bach, Schumann and Mendelssohn, with pianist Tom Poster and Guy’s brother Violinist Magnus Johnston.

Tom Poster is a pianist very much loved by Aberystwyth audiences, whose unwavering support for Musicfest over the years has been a major factor in its continuing success. Tom will be performing along with Raphaela Papadakis in ‘My Dearest Hedgehog’ on Tuesday 26th July in what will inevitably be on the most talked about performances of MusicFest 2016.  ‘My Dearest Hedgehog’ combines piano, voice and narration exploring the relationship between Richard Strauss and his wife, the soprano Pauline de Ahna. This recital, devised by Henrietta Bredin, features songs that Strauss wrote for Pauline to sing, interwoven with a narration that reveals their deep, yet often unexpressed, love for one another. We are delighted to be welcoming actors Oliver Cotton (known for his prolific work on stage, TV and film and best known for his role as Cesare Borgia in BBC series The Borgias) and Penny Downie (an associate actress at Royal Shakespeare Company and currently appearing as Lady Sinderby in Downton Abbey).

Musicfest Aberystwyth will be presenting nine first performances, more than half of them by Welsh composers, including premieres of works by Richard Blackford, Gareth Churchill, Arlene Sierra, Kenneth Hesketh, Kaare Dyvik Husby, Charlie Barber, Paul Maelor and Tom Davoren.  We are welcoming many new guest artists this year, including Gamal Khamis a featured soloist in the Park Lane Group series in London who will be performing music by Thomas Ades, and Engima14 a piano, cello and flute trio led by Yahama sponsored Lisa Nelsen.

The MusicFest Junior Fellow programme is featuring even more young and emerging musicians, offering the opportunity to feature in concerts alongside working with our summer school to mentor and inspire students. This year Solem Quartet return for performances throughout the week including Haydn, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn and we are delighted to be welcoming four recipients of the Arts Council of Wales Advanced Scholars programme Lowri Thomas, Chloe Bradshaw, Gwenllian Llyr and Aberystwyth born Jason Lewis.

2016 is the centenary of Cardiff born Roald Dahl and throughout the country various celebrations are taking place. We are thrilled to welcome, as part of our Junior Fellow programme, the Magnard Ensemble; a wind ensemble with piano and narrator who will be giving two performances inspired by the works of Roald Dahl. On Sunday 24th July they will perform Martin Butler’s ‘Dirty Beasts’ and on Monday 25th July at 11.30am they will be at Ceredigion Museum performing ‘Revolting Rhymes and Marvellous Music’ for children and their parents.

National Youth Choir of WaleswWe are also delighted to be welcoming the National Youth Choir of Wales and National Youth Brass Band of Wales to MusicFest, with performances on Saturday 30th July.  We will also be hosting an additional performance to our week of events with the National Youth Orchestra’s Composer course showcase on Wednesday 3rd August.

The International Summer School includes students from all over the world including the US, Canada, Malta, Luxembourg and Norway who travel to Aberystwyth to participate in the unique MusicFest experience. Showcases and recitals from the students will take place during the week in our early evening recitals, and throughout the Saturday 30th July. The Summer School offers the chance to be taught by internationally renowned musicians who all feature in our main programme of concerts including Sigyn Fosnes, Kari Ravnan, Ásdis Valdimarsdóttir, John Flinders, Simon Lane, Lisa Nelsen, Andy Scott, Dan Swana, Elena Nalimova, Anya Fadina, Arlene Sierra, Kenneth Hesketh and of course the MusicFest Artistic Director David Campbell.

The theme of ‘Fairy Tales and Fantasy’ will weave through the main programme with performances of Schumann’s ‘Drei Fantasiestücke’ (Three Fantasy Pieces),  ‘Märchenerzählungen’ (Fairy Tales) and ‘Märchenbilder (Fairytales)’ whilst some very special Story Walks and storytelling events in the MusicFest Fringe will feature fairy tales from Aberystwyth about elephants, mermaids and railways.

IMG_0883 (1)MusicFest Fringe returns in 2016, bigger and bolder than ever, placing free music performances through the town. This year we will be celebrating the very special end-of-the-line location of Aberystwyth with a number of performances and events which feature trains and train stations; and offering some very special experiences of music in galleries throughout the town including National Library Wales, School of Art and Aberystwyth Arts Centre. We will again be offering a week of evening performances in Rummers Wine Bar. These events feature guest artists from the main programme, students from the summer school courses, young and emerging musicians participating in the Junior Fellows programme alongside the best of local musicians and offers classical, folk, traditional and Jazz and this year will include performances of storytelling and exhibitions of writing, film and photography.

Full details of the main programme concerts are available here and you can book as usual via the Arts Centre’s box office on 01970 62 32 32 or online at

Further details about MusicFest Fringe can be found at  or by contacting the Musicfest office or 01970 612034 or follow on @MusicFestAber or

MusicFest is possible thanks to the support of Arts Council Wales, Ceredigion Council, Aberystwyth University. The Summer School and the Junior Fellows Programme are supported by Friends of MusicFest.

We hope to welcome you to MusicFest this summer,