Norfolk & Norwich Festival

An exciting dance piece exploring the state of the globe, one of the world’s foremost female folk and country favourites, and a chance to enjoy a vivacious classical symphony make up part of the 2018 offering from the Norfolk & Norwich Festival at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Add in a multi-platinum pianist and a hugely popular South African choir, and a strong programme of performance is scheduled for the annual celebration of arts and culture in the city.

The Theatre Royal starts its season of Festival events on Tuesday 15 May as the world-renowned Hofesh Shechter Company presents its brand new piece Grand Finale. Fresh from a thrilling world premiere at La Villette-Paris, the Olivier Award-nominated piece comes to Norwich as part of an extensive international tour.

It also mixes a number of different types of performance with a mix of dance, gig and theatrical performance while also maintaining a distinctive voice.

Performed by a ten-strong tribe of dancers and accompanied by a live band, it mixes a pulsating musical score with a rich set, striking costume design and the anarchic energy of Shechter’s choreography to depict a world in freefall.

Making her Norfolk & Norwich Festival debut on May 17 is Mary Chapin Carpenter, the five-time Grammy Award winner, who will be performing a host of favourite songs from her extensive back catalogue as well as tracks from her latest album Sometimes Just The Sky.

She has sold well over 14 million records thanks to hits like Passionate Kisses and He Thinks He’ll Keep Her. Mary boasts five Grammy Awards with an additional 15 nominations, two Academy of Country Music awards for her vocals, and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. As well as a successful solo career, she has also performed alongside the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the London Concert Orchestra among others.

Saturday May 19 sees the multi-platinum selling artist Ben Folds take to the stage. Loved by critics and his fans alike as one of this generation’s greatest musicians, he is promising to deliver a high-energy performance using just his piano and encompassing some of his best-known hits as well as newer compositions.

Although best-known to a mainstream audience as a member of the Ben Folds Five, he has collaborated with everyone from the symphony orchestras to Star Trek actor William Shatner on work and is also no stranger to television judging the USA’s popular a cappella show The Sing Off and writing the soundtrack for the Netflix series Handsome.

Also returning to the Theatre Royal as part of the Festival season is the Britten Sinfonia on May 27 who will present Beethoven’s Symphonies 4 and 5. Number 4 is known for its very sunny and light feel and is loved by composers as varied as Berlioz and Bernstein, while Number 5 may be best known for its distinctive and much-copied opening notes but it moves into a stirring and heroic piece with an epic feel.

And one of the globe’s greatest and most distinctive groups Ladysmith Black Mambazo are live on May 16 evoking the spirit of their native South Africa with their intricate a cappella rhythms and powerful harmonies. Demand for the performance has been incredible with only returns available.

John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said:

“With its ambitious cross-genre approach and stunning impact, Grand Finale’s Norwich debut is going to be something very special. The creative impact and global reputation of Hofesh Schechter speaks for itself and it is incredibly exciting to welcome it to the city as part of the Festival programme.

Add in many distinctive musical strands and you have a diverse programme of performances set to offer a host of stunning experiences for Festival audiences.”

For full details of Norfolk & Norwich Festival events, log onto nnfestival.org.uk