Festival commemorates popular film music composer

Paul Harris of Buckingham. Director of the Arnold Festival.'131013M-A680
Paul Harris of Buckingham. Director of the Arnold Festival.'131013M-A680
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A leading Buckingham educationalist is the driving force behind the eighth annual Malcolm Arnold Festival, at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate Theatre tomorrow, Saturday.

The hugely popular festival was first held in 2006 as a one off celebration of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s 85th birthday.

Two weeks before the festival was due to take place, however, Sir Malcolm died and the festival instead became a commemoration of a wonderful and talented life. It has been held annually ever since.

Sir Malcolm’s music was hugely popular during the 1950s, and he composed many fine symphonic cycles and film scores including Saint Trinian’s, Whistle Down The Wind and Bridge Over The River Kwai, for which he won an Oscar.

Festival director and Malcolm Arnold expert Paul Harris, who lives in Buckingham, told the Advertiser: “Malcolm Arnold was a towering figure in British music, well known to the public.

“He was at his peak in the ’50s and ’60s and died eight years ago, but in no way is he forgotten.

“His music stands up there to modern ears as though he’d written it yesterday.”

This year’s festival reveals the extraordinary breadth of Sir Malcolm’s talents and is based loosely around one of his famous quotes: “I think of music in terms of sound.”

The festival will feature film music, music for the ballet and works for orchestra, chamber ensembles and instrumentalists, and will be launched by Dame Monica Mason, who danced in the first performance of one of Sir Malcolm’s ballets.

The highlights include The Turtle Drum, performed by pupils from the Malcolm Arnold Academy and a rare performance of both Arnold’s string quartets by the Royal Northern College Of Music.

On Saturday afternoon, there is a family concert in St Matthew’s Church, hosted by BBC Radio Northampton’s John Griff.

The concert will also feature the Ealing Symphony Orchestra playing a selection of pieces by Arnold along with Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf and The Unhappy Aardvark by Paul Harris.

The Sunday evening concert, Movie Classics, in the Derngate auditorium, features renowed clarinettist Julian Bliss performing with the Worthing Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Gibbons.

The programme includes Sir Malcolm’s Inn Of The Sixth Happiness, Clarinet Concerto No.2 and You Know What Sailors Are, alongside other popular pieces such as Badelt’s Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Tickets for the gala concert on Sunday are from £14.50 to £32.50. Weekend tickets for the rest of the festival at £12.50 (and day tickets for £7.50 excluding the gala concert).

Call the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalanderngate.co.uk