Perth Festival

17th - 26th May 2018
Box Office: 01738 621 031

Press Releases

New Festival Administrator Appointment

Friday 14th September

Peter welcomes Helen

September was a month of warm welcomes and fond farewells for the Festival, as we marked the immense contributions of our outgoing Festival Administrator and welcomed a new face to the team.


Joining Perth Festival of the Arts over two decades ago, former Administrator Sandra Ralston has worked with the Committee to deliver an incredible twenty-two festivals every May since 1996. After a commendable length of service and another successful 2018 festival under her belt, Sandra felt this autumn was the right time to step down and hand over the reins.


Sandra will be succeeded by Helen MacKinnon, an equally well-known local face due to her long-standing work in Perth’s voluntary sector. A music graduate, Helen has a background in the arts that has seen her establish a growing reputation as a Scottish composer, whilst also working latterly as a Chief Officer of a local charity. The new appointment sees Helen take up post from September.


Festival Chairman, Peter Rutterford, commented: “On behalf of the Executive Committee, I would like to thank Sandra for her outstanding service and commitment to the Festival. Sandra’s efforts have brought joy and entertainment to thousands of people over many years. The Committee is delighted to welcome Helen and the experience and ideas she brings. We look forward to working together to develop and deliver future Festivals.”

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Join Us For A Wedding

Friday 20th April

Figaro 2

Let’s have a show of hands... Who hasn’t tried opera before?  I’m willing to wager that there will be regular theatre goers, lovers of live concerts and many musical groupies out there who somehow find themselves at a loss with opera.  Perhaps you think it’s a bit highbrow, a bit stuffy, or dare we say it, a bit boring!  More the setting for Niles and Frasier and the classical set, the

Well, this year we’re inviting you to throw caution to the wind and come along to join a wedding! The Marriage of Figaro by the English Touring opera is an energetic new production of one of the world’s most beloved Mozart operas and as well as being a glorious fast paced story this production is sung in English making it an ideal first for opera newbees.

During the course of one eventful day, Figaro and Susanna must overcome every obstacle put in their way by Count Almaviva and his cronies before they can finally be united as man and wife. Blanche McIntyre returns to direct this most warm-hearted of operas, equally acclaimed for its sublime music and huge sense of fun. Featuring a first-class cast, including Ross Ramgobin as Figaro, Rachel Redmond as Susanna, Nadine Benjamin as the Countess and Dawid Kimberg as the count.

English Touring Opera is the leading touring opera company in the UK, travelling to more regions and to more venues than any other English opera company where it will present as many as 110 performances per year.  We are thrilled here at Perth Festival to a regular stop on these tours and welcome them again for 2018. 

Their aim is to offer opera to everyone, with a varied repertoire of high-quality professional productions featuring some of the finest talent in the UK today.

If you’re up for trying something new, want to look at ways to broaden your cultural world and enjoy stand out performances, great musicians and a romp through an evening of fun, then this is the event for you.  Go on,  book now and join us for the Marriage of Figaro!

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All the Arts. Ten Days. One Amazing Festival.

Wednesday 21st March

Perth Fest low res


Perth is set to welcome some big names from the world of music, arts and culture this May for the 47th annual Perth Festival of the Arts. Taking place from the 17th – 26th May at venues across the city centre, this year’s line-up is one of the most diverse in the festival’s long history and has something which will appeal to people of all tastes. The Festival Box Office is getting ready to open at 10am on Monday 29th March.

Taking place over ten days at Perth Concert Hall, Perth Theatre and St. John’s Kirk, Perth Festival of the Arts has no fewer than 26 different events in this year’s programme, ranging from opera and big musical performances to contemporary art exhibitions and fun, thought-provoking stage shows.

Some things are different this year – a new venue, a new illustrator and a broadcast on Radio 2. Perth Theatre is open again after its spectacular refurbishment. We have really missed it. We love the Concert Hall of course and it means that we had to programme bigger shows because of the space. We have missed the intimacy of those quirky events we find on the Edinburgh Fringe and stage in the Theatre. We’ve got a new look designed by local artist, Jill Calder from Cellardyke. Every five years or so we commission a new artist to design our Festival brochure, posters and street banners. We are thrilled with Jill’s design which encompasses our broad programme.

We’ve also teamed up with the BBC, who are in town for the BBC Biggest Weekend, for a broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Our “resident house band” Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra – who first appeared at Perth Festival of the Arts in 1998 – will be returning to the stage bringing Soft Cell star Marc Almond as his special guest. The concert will be broadcast on Radio 2.

English Touring Opera open the Festival with a stunning production of The Marriage of Figaro and a night of Rossini Arias. Two Scottish sopranos Rachel Redmond from Glasgow and Katherine Aitken from Dundee make their Scottish debut in the Figaro production. Scottish Opera will also be here with their trailer converted into an opera house with free shows beside the Concert Hall. The Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra with violinist Jennifer Pike, the youngest ever winner of the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year, close the Festival on the 26th May. More top drawer classical acts include Royal Northern Sinfonia, Lars Vogt, Tenebrae; and Children’s Classic Concerts will perform Peter and The Wolf for a Saturday Morning audience.


Grimethorpe Colliery Band – a Yorkshire-based brass band, stars of the hit film “Brassed Off”, play a night in Perth Concert Hall and for fans of Scottish bands the triple bill of The Elephant Sessions, Siobhan Miller and Fara will certainly be a highlight. The Elephant Sessions won Album of the Year and Siobhan won Scots Singer of the Year at the 2017 Trad Awards.


Among the names appearing in the festival’s stage shows over the ten days is crime-writer Val McDermid, who will be interviewed on stage at Perth Theatre by comedian and broadcaster, Fred MacAulay. Kirkcaldy’s McDermid has sold over 14 million copies of her books worldwide and had her work translated into 30 different languages.

Ruby Wax will also bring her one-woman show ‘Frazzled’ to Perth Theatre as part of Perth Festival of the Arts programme, based on her best-seller ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’. The US-born comedy actress will give the audience an insight into mental health and the show is not recommended for those under the age of fourteen.


The Theatre also hosts ex Communard and broadcaster, The Rev Richard Coles, clarinettist Emma Johnson, an Edinburgh Fringe favourite show about “Ern and Ern” and an enchanting ballet The “Nutcracker and I” which is enhanced by digital animation projected onto the stage. The Flying Bridge Theatre Company travel up from Wales for the one man show “Between the Crosses”.

We always feature home grown talent and this year is no different singer/songwriter and violin player Hannah Fisher from Dunkeld gives a Saturday morning recital. She plays regularly with Idlewild, King Creosote and Roddy Woomble. Opera singer Donald Maxwell, also comes from Perth and gives his Farewell Concert in Perth Theatre after many successful years on the opera circuit. Young local talent is abundant in the daily free schools concerts in St John’s Kirk and in Perth Youth Orchestra who also play in the Festival.

Festival Chairman, Peter Rutterford, said of this year’s festival programme: “We’re delighted to announce this year’s Perth Festival of the Arts line-up and this year the focus has been to put together a programme that is diverse and will appeal to people of different interests.”


 “We have some terrific classical and operatic performances to look forward to, as well as the fantastic arTay exhibitions curated by local art gallery Frames. We’ll also be welcoming big names such as Val McDermid, Ruby Wax, and Richard Coles for stage shows at the newly refurbished Perth Theatre, a venue we are delighted to have back open and available for the festival this year.”

This year’s festival takes place during an exciting month of music and entertainment in Perth and Kinross with BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend coming to Scone Palace in May, and Peter is hoping that people will come out in force to enjoy Perth Festival of the Arts and other events happening around the same time.

He added: “Perth is attracting some of the best names in the arts and music industry, and that can only be a good thing for the city and for Perth Festival of the Arts. We believe our programme caters for people with lots of different tastes, and hope that audiences will come along and enjoy our annual arts festival and the other great music, arts and cultural events taking place in Perth.”


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It is a Cracker of a Year for Perth Festival of the Arts

Thursday 4th January


Perth Festival of the Arts is delighted to announce some of the artists who will be performing at the 47th Festival at the end of May.

Well known names Ruby Wax, Jools Holland, Marc Almond, Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Val McDermid, The Rev Richard Coles, Emma Johnson, Flying Bridge Theatre Company, Elephant Sessions, Fara and Hannah Fisher are all booked to perform.

On the classical front we are thrilled to have The Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Jennifer Pike, The Royal Northern Sinfonia, Lars Vogt, English Touring Opera, The Marriage of Figaro, a Concert of Rossini Arias, Tenebrae, The Scottish Opera Trailer and Peter and the Wolf. The stunning ArTay marquee will return too with its top drawer showcase of contemporary Scottish art.

Peter Rutterford, Festival Chairman said “This is only a taster as more will be announced in the coming weeks. Now that the fabulous Perth Theatre is open again we are able to programme more shows. We were last there in 2013. The Festival is also having a redesign by local artist Jill Calder so watch out for that.”

To find out more about the line-up for the Festival, which will run from the 17th to 26th May, visit

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So how did it go in 2017?

Monday 5th June 2017

Scottish Opera trailer 2017

12 days and nights, 28 concerts, 1 art exhibition, 5 venues, 11,500 attendees and one single purpose……. To inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy a wide range of top quality arts.


The question is, did we achieve that?


Having Nicola Benedetti perform on the opening night has to be a great start to any festival. Her recital of Brahms’ 3 violin sonatas was outstanding. A born educator she communicated especially to the young people in the audience and will have inspired many in their pursuit of music.


Bringing music to young people is at the heart of what we do. Dundee rock outfit “The View” played to a packed (and lively) pit and brought in a very different audience. Justin Currie, of Del Amitri fame, and Jools Holland with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra had the Concert Hall rocking.


Also, seven lunchtime concerts in St. John’s Kirk showcased the best young musical talent from schools across Perth & Kinross. It was truly heart-warming to see the virtuosity and depth of young talent on our doorstep.


For the classical fans there was also Nigel Kennedy, the best selling classical violinist in the world playing his Dedications, plus some Bach and then a bit of Jimi Hendrix. Tenebrae, one of the top acapella choirs in the world performed their Russian Treasures immaculately. The opera lovers also had their night with English Touring Opera’s excellent performance of Tosca and we finished with a rousing performance from The Moscow Philharmonic. Children’s Classic Concerts showed children how classical music could be fun with their Tartan Tales programme.


For Jazz buffs, Martin Taylor and Alison Burns played their Ella Fitzgerald tribute to a sell out crowd, and The Cotton Club were great fun recreating the music and dance of the famous 1920’s New York club.


We also love to present top Scottish talent. In a 3 part bill we were treated to Rachel Sermanni's beautifully soulful singing, followed by top songsmith Adam Holmes, both with their bands. Finally The Treacherous orchestra led by local lads Ali Hutton and Ross Ainslie well and truly blew the concert hall roof off.


The Chairman of Perth Festival, Peter Rutterford, summed it up well today:


“We have had a tremendous Festival. We have achieved what we set out to do, which was to make the Festival available for all tastes and ages. We have had a wonderful 2 weeks and we hope that our audience has too.”

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News and Reviews of 2017 Festival

Friday 19th May 2017

ArTay marquee

Read what Keith Bruce, Arts Editor of The Herald, thinks about this year's programme here

Perth Festival of the Arts kicks off with Nicola Benedetti concert - The Courier


Read Keith Bruce’s review from The Herald of Nicola Benedetti and Alexei Grynyuk performance of Brahms which was called a revelation.


Martin Taylor and Alison Burns gave a stunning tribute to Ella Fitzgerald highlighting her winning collaboration with Joe Pass… don’t believe us why not look at Rob Adam’s review from The Herald who was at The Loft on Wednesday night


Wide selection of art in ArTay tent as Perth Festival of the Arts arrives in Fair City - Daily Record;


Tosca to be performed in Perth Concert Hall by English Touring Opera with chorus of local children - Daily Record.


Read Keith Bruce’s review from The Herald of Tosca performed by the English Touring Opera.


Lorraine Wilson from The Herald comments on Jools Holland.


Rob Adams from The Herald comments on the preview of Helena Kay.


Rob Adams from The Herald comments on the performance from Helena Kay.


Lorraine Wilson from The Herald comments on The View from Saturday the 20th.

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Innovations and Great Favourites at the 2017 Festival

Friday 12th May 2017

The View

As Perth awaits news about its UK City of Culture bid, the 46th Perth Festival of the Arts launches next week with a sparkling but intimate concert featuring Nicola Benedetti and pianist, Alexei Grynyuk at Perth Concert Hall. Nicola will play Brahms’ Violin Sonatas. Her performance will be followed by a rare opportunity for the audience to pose any questions they may have to one of the world’s premier violinists. Another of the world’s great exponents of that instrument, Nigel Kennedy, is set to perform on Sunday 21st May. His concerts are legendary and this one will surely be no exception. Hang on to your seat as Nigel takes you through some of the music that his influenced him throughout his life!

For some twenty years the Festival has broadened its appeal from its classical music and opera roots; it now embraces a wide range of musical types – and other art forms. Rock music forms an important part of our programming: this year Dundee’s The View takes prime spot on the first Saturday night. They are ideal headliners who, supported by The Snuts and The Nickajackmen , will appeal to a young audience. Tickets are selling well but some are still available. Justin Currie and The Pallbearers, who have just released a new album, follow on Friday 26th May. The Pallbearers feature local guitarist Stuart Nisbet. The Treacherous Orchestra, Rachel Sermanni and Adam Holmes and The Embers are set to stage a high-quality triple bill featuring Celtic folk-rock.

Other innovations this year include the use of two new venues. South Street’s Loft Nightclub will host a night to celebrate a hundred years of Ella Fitzgerald with jazz guitarist Martin Taylor and singer Alison Burns. Jazz will also be heard in newly-refurbished St Matthew’s Church on Tay Street when Helena Kay gives a Saturday Morning performance with pianist Peter Johnstone. Helena, brought up in Perth, is now forging a successful career as a saxophonist.

A sing-along production of HMS Pinafore will certainly be something different. The audience will be the chorus and can choose even to dress up appropriately for the occasion. This is entirely optional but there will be prizes! Another first is a visit by a choir which is a Classic FM favourite: Tenebrae will sing Russian Orthodox Church music in a candlelit performance in St John’s Kirk.

If you enjoy your comedy then a visit by Marcus Brigstocke will be for you. A regular at the Edinburgh Fringe and on Have I Got News for You, he starred on stage in Spamalot. Let’s face it - with all these elections it’s time for a good laugh. His Perth performance isn’t part of a tour and he’s coming north especially for the Festival, so please give him a warm welcome.

Great Festival favourites include visits from major orchestras. This time it is The Moscow Philharmonic, who will play Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Other favourites include a return visit – featuring Tosca - from English Touring Opera, while Jools Holland’s annual party continues this time with help from Chiris Difford, perhaps best known as half of Squeeze. 1920s New York Hot Club jazz with accompanying dance will enliven Tuesday 23rd and feature Harry Strutters’ Hot Rhythm Orchestra and the Lindy Hop Dance Company. Our ever popular ArTay marquee will be packed with a wide range of very desirable contemporary Scottish Art to admire.

There are many other shows on offer including Children’s Classic Concerts, the Scottish Opera Trailer Tour and the Perth Youth Orchestra, as well as free lunchtime concerts. The Festival runs from 15th to 27th May. ... more information is available at


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Nigel Kennedy to headline 2017 Perth Festival of the Arts

Monday 20th March 2017

Nigel Kennedy my world

There are jazz festivals, festivals for rock, folk and classical music but very few festivals which cover all these genres. Perth Festival of the Arts certainly does this again with this year’s programme featuring such well known names as Nigel Kennedy, Nicola Benedetti, Jools Holland, Marcus Brigstocke, Justin Currie and The View. There is a full scale opera, Pucinni’s Tosca, a world-class choir, Tenebrae and the might of the imposing Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.  Free concerts and exhibitions also feature, and as well as a performance of HMS Pinafore, where audience members are the chorus and can even dress up.


Recent headliners at the Festival have included Van Morrison, The Proclaimers, KT Tunstall and Calvin Harris. This year Dundee’s The View headline at Perth Concert Hall on Saturday 20th May. Scottish singer songwriter Justin Currie, the voice of Delamitri, will also play the hall, as will Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and Chris Difford. Their Perth Festival performances have been so well received that they are spoken of as “our resident house band”. Martin Taylor and Alison Burns perform a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald in a new Festival venue, The Loft in South Street.


A Scottish triple bill of The Treacherous Orchestra, Rachel Sermanni and Adam Holmes and the Embers will surely be a highlight of this year’s event. ‘Swinging at The Cotton Club’ is the action-packed show celebrating the music, dance, and songs of the Cotton Club – New York City’s legendary nightclub of the 1920s and ‘30s. The exciting dance and music of the Cotton Club is recreated by the fabulous The Lindy Hop Dance Company, the world’s premier jazz dance ensemble. More exciting shows include Children’s Classic Concerts and Scottish Opera’s visiting opera roadshow.


Young musicians are nurtured by the Festival and there are daily lunchtime concerts by Perthshire Schools, a recital by Helena Kay, originally from Perth showcases her skills on the saxophone and a performance by Perth Youth Orchestra.  There are many free events, including the popular ArTay marquee, packed full of the best of contemporary Scottish Art and lots of local exhibitions.


The Festival, founded in 1972, and now 46 years young, is one of Scotland’s oldest continuously running arts events and runs from 15th to 27th May.  The Festival is a registered charity. Over the years it has grown from its classical and opera roots to embrace a wide range of art forms.


Tickets will go on sale on the 27th March. Friends of the Festival can book from 20th March. More information on each of the shows is available at

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Reviews of the 2016 Festival

Wednesday 8th June 2016

Don Giovanni masks

Organisers Hail Festival a Success By Kirsty Topping, The Courier 
Perth Festival of the Arts drew to a close on Sunday Night with The Halle Orchestra.The symphony orchestra, which was conducted by Jamie Phillips, brought to an end more than a week of music, art and drama.Performers were diverse – ranging from Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall to the English Touring Opera.The festival also encompassed an art display, arTay, which was curated by local business Frames Gallery.
Peter Rutterford, chairman of the Perth Festival of the Arts, said this year had been their most successful yet and the organisers were already beginning to plan for next years’ festival.He said: “We had a super festival. There’s been a great turnout – we’ve had about 10,000 people coming both to arTay and attending concerts throughout the past 10 days. “Jools Holland is very, very popular. Every year he comes back and he loves coming back. We want to have him again and he wants to be here next year, so we are looking into that already.
“The reaction to the festival has been really positive – KT Tunstall was very popular, as was Nina Conti.“We have a huge amount of variety in the programme – everything from symphony orchestras to comic groups and opera.“Next year we are looking for a similar sort of wide variety of acts – we are trying to appeal to as many people as possible.
“Perth is not the same size as Edinburgh or Glasgow but we do very well for people coming in – a lot of local people but also people from the bigger cities.“We’ve also had people from across the world – Americans, Germans and Dutch – lots of holidaymakers and people who have been in the area have come into the festival.”



The Sixteen review by Garry Fraser, The Courier


The Herald's Review of Don Giovanni


Don Giovanni The Opera Critic give their Review


Don Giovanni Perthshire Advertiser's Review


Perthshire Advertiser's Review of Kilgraston's School Concert


Small City's Review of Alex Horne & the Horne Section


Perthshire Advertiser's Review of Alex Horne & the Horne Section


The Herald's Review of Pascal and Ami Rogé


John Wilson Orchestra review by Garry Fraser, The Courier

Part of the medley of music provided by the John Wilson Orchestra at the Concert Hall was a Selection from Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate. One of the songs included was Wunderbar, Wunderbar and this is a word that aptly and concisely sums up the performance of this orchestra. Actually, it was more than wonderful if a suitable superlative could be found.

Wilson and his orchestra have carved a niche in the market that leaves other, similar orchestras intheir wake. It’s a happy mix of big band sound and classical orchestral, and their evening of Broadway Sound was delivered with first class honours.

It’s Wilson’s arrangements of these classic songs that lay the foundations for lively and toe-tapping performances, with the orchestra obviously enjoying every moment. John can call on the services of  the UK’s top musicians and there were several recognisable faces on stage from the top echelons of the country’s orchestras.

What was best? A toss-up between the Sigmund Romberg’s Deep In My heart overture or Rodgers’ Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Both were magnificent.

Broadway music means song and dance, but with Julian Ovenden in superb voice no movement was required. This man knows how to put over a song, whether it be the soft, smooth ballad-like If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot, Guys and Dolls’ Luck Be A Lady or the famous soliloquy from Carousel. However good these were, I thought he saved the best to the encore, a quite marvellous version of Sondheim’s Being Alive.

This is the orchestra’s first appearance at the Perth Festival, and a full concert hall will join me in saying that I hope it’s not the last.


Aquarelle Quartet review by Garry Fraser, The Courier

Once I had the pleasure to see guitarist John Williams perform. He was magnificent. On Wednesday night I had the equal pleasure to see four young equivalents perform. They were equally good. It’s not often you get the chance to hear a guitar quartet but thanks to the Perth Festival engaging the Aquarelle Quartet, that box was ticked – and in some style.

Any reservations of an evening of guitar music were washed away in an instance as the ensemble embarked on an evening of top-class, virtuosic guitar playing. The performance was stream-lined and the essence of chamber music with total understanding, rapport and musical empathy emerging from the start.

Due to the nature of the ensemble, much of the music was arranged and they started the concert with a wonderful adaptation of Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers overture. Italian opera a la flamenco – brilliant!

There was a more tender mood in an arrangement of Catriona McKay’s Swan – this was particularly beautiful – and this was closely followed by Mike Baker’s arrangement of a harp melody by Dalwyn Henshall.

Everything was quite measured, the dynamics rarely rising above a double forte. However, this changed with two quite amazing pieces of composition, Carlos Rivera’s Cumba-Quin and Ian Krouse’s Folias. The former was almost 70% percussion while the latter was one of the most amazing, let alone interesting, works I’ve heard.


Set in three parts, it was a set of variations on a theme and called for a united display of virtuosic, flamboyant and exhilarating guitar playing, with all for players playing as one. Not just impressive, but also hugely enjoyable.

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Come and celebrate Perth Festival's 45th birthday

Friday 25th March 2016

KT 006

This is a big year for Perth Festival as it celebrates its 45th birthday from the 19th to 29th May.  One of the highlights in the cultural calendar and founded in 1972, it is one of Scotland’s oldest continuously running arts festivals. Well known names such as KT Tunstall, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra withspecial guests Pauline Black & Arthur "Gaps" Hendrickson from The Selecter, Apollo favourite Nina Conti and her “In Your Face” comedy show, Mercury Music Prize nominees The Unthanks, Manran, Dundee band Sinderins andRadio 4 favourites Alex Horne and The Horne Section will all appear at this year’s event.
The Festival is delighted that KT Tunstall has accepted our invitation to play at the Festival. She is the perfect headliner with her new album out this year.  Her local connections with St Andrews and Dundee should draw a great crowd to Perth Concert Hall on Friday 27th May.
Classical music, as always, is an essential part of the event with BBC Prom regulars The John Wilson Orchestra opening the Festival with a glitzy Broadway programme and soloist Julian Overden and The Hallé Orchestra closing the Festival with Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. English Touring Opera willstage a new full production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” with elegant costumes, scenery and the 25 player ETO orchestra and world-class choir, The Sixteen, return to St John’s Kirk with their Choral Pilgrimage. Other classical gems include Scottish Opera’s Pop-Up Opera Roadshow, a programme of Satie by Pascal and Ami Rogé, The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet and Children’s Classic Concerts perform a Roald Dahl celebration. Allan Young, from Perth, who is studying at The Birmingham Conservatoire will return with his jazz trio to play in St John’s Kirk. Local talent also features with young Perth composer, Helen Mackinnon, who is writing a new piece of choral music for the Festival Service. Helen has been selected by Academy Award winner Ennio Morricone for a special mention at an international composing competition in Italy.
There are many free events including the popular ArTay marquee which will be packed full of contemporary Scottish Art. This year the Festival has commissioned a piece of sculpture from Aberfeldy artist Georgia Crook. It will be constructed of driftwood from the River Tay which has been washed up during the winter floods. There are also daily lunchtime concerts by Perthshire Schools and by Perth Youth Orchestra and lots of local exhibitions. The Festival is a registered charity. Over the years it has grown from its classical and opera roots to embrace a wide range of art forms

Tickets from Perth Concert Hall 01738 621031 or

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Quality Shines in 2015 Perth Festival Programme

Thursday 7th May 2015


Quality shines in 2015 Perth Festival Programme

The organisers of Perth Festival of the Arts are preparing for the 44th Festival, which will take place from the 21st to 31st May 2015 in Perth Concert Hall and St John’s Kirk. It is one of the oldest continuously running Arts Festivals in Scotland.

Well known names such as The Proclaimers, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, saxophonist Courtney Pine, King Creosote, Classic fm broadcaster John Suchet who will talk about Beethoven, Ronnie Scott’s All Star Quintet with Claire Martin, Simply Gershwin and the West End comedy show about Downton Abbey will all feature in the 2015 programme. There is even a Headphone Disco, a new innovation for the Festival, in the marquee beside Perth Concert Hall and a Festival ceilidh with the Jim Makay dance band.


English Touring Opera will stage a new production of Puccini’s “La boheme” at Perth Concert Hall. This is a full production with scenery, costumes and the 25 player ETO orchestra using the Concert Hall’s orchestra pit.  Norwegian star trumpeter, Tine Thing Helseth will play the Hummel Trumpet Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra from Manchester.  The Royal Marines Band with musicians from Portsmouth and Scotland will play the Final Concert compered by John Suchet. Scottish Opera bring their trailer tour to Perth where they will be performing free shows in their trailer, which is a mock up of Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. World-class choir The Sixteen return to St John’s Kirk with their Choral Pilgrimage and Red Priest perform a programme of Handel. Former Marines and RSNO French horn player Frank Lloyd gives a recital in St John’s Kirk. And there is a sweet tribute to accordion player William Hannah. Local talent is represented by Andrew Forbes, who will play an organ recital in St John’s Kirk.


The Proclaimers will headline the Festival on Saturday 23rd May in Perth Concert Hall. After completing a 2-year World Tour late in 2013, Craig and Charlie took 2014 off to focus entirely on writing a new album. They headed to Rockfield Studios in December with their band and producer Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey, Idlewild, The Who) and recorded their 10th studio album 'Let's Hear It For The Dogs' to be released on Cooking Vinyl in April this year. King Creosote and his eight piece band will also play the Festival on the 22nd May featuring pieces from the sound track “Scotland With Love” and with numbers from his back catalogue.



There are many free events including the popular ArTay marquee, packed full of contemporary Scottish Art, daily lunchtime concerts by Perthshire Schools and by Perth Youth Orchestra and lots of local exhibitions. The Festival is a registered charity. Over the years it has grown from its classical and opera roots to embrace a wide range of art forms. Full details of the programme can be found at


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Olivier Award winning opera company returns to Perth in 2015 with new production of La boheme

Saturday 25th April 2015

laboheme eto


An Olivier-award winning opera company, English Touring Opera (ETO) returns to Perth this May with a new production of Puccini’s masterpiece La bohème.

Performed on Thursday 21 May at Perth Concert Hall, La bohème is sung in full costume, in Italian with English surtitles, accompanied by ETO’s chorus and 25-piece orchestra.

One of the greatest and most moving operas of all time, La bohème is a story of young love, starting on Christmas Eve in a Parisian garret. On this festive, snowy night the lovers Mimi and Rodolfo draw close, but poverty and ill-health force them apart.

The production features a group of 12 young local singers from Oakbank School in Perth, recruited especially for ETO’s tour to sing a children’s chorus of street urchins.

La bohème is performed at Perth Concert Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday 21 May 2015.

James Conway, General Director of ETO, said: ‘La bohème is the ideal first opera, and one to which everyone loves to return - a nostalgic look at the pathos and folly of youth. It is a romance which has music of great power, drawing out the very best of that remarkable thing, the human voice.’

ETO’s season also continues the company’s record of work for younger audiences, with two new productions touring to schools in the region.

Shackleton’s Cat, designed for children aged 7-11, is based on the true story of the tabby cat that accompanied Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Antarctic expedition, and incorporates elements of the geography and history curriculum. Waxwings is a new interactive opera for children with severe special educational needs, based on the story of flight and the myth of Icarus.


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2015 Shop Window Competition

Saturday 25th April 2015

2015 logo small

The organisers of Perth Festival of the Arts, in conjunction with the Perthshire Advertiser, are running a Shop Window Competition for this year’s festival, which takes place between 21st and 31st May.

It is hoped that shops and businesses will dress their windows in style for the occasion, reflecting the themes of music, comedy drama and art. The city centre will be decorated with colourful banners carrying the Festival designs. The banners capture the spirit of the festival with its colour and vitality reflecting the mix of artforms in this year’s programme. The judging will take place on Tuesday, May 19th. There will be three categories: one for department stores,  another for smaller shops and one for charity shops.

Prizes will be tickets to Festival events. Artists performing at this years event include The Proclaimers. Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra & Marc Almond, King Creosote, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, The Only Way is Downton, English Touring Opera La boheme, The Sixteen, Courtney Pine, Festival Ceilidh, Ronnie Scott's All Stars & Clare Martin, The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines...and much more. 
The full Festival programme can be seen at

To take part in the competition, please e-mail Penny  or telephone 
07956 934333 

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The Proclaimers to Headline Perth Festival

Thursday 19th February 2015


Perth Festival is delighted to announce that The Proclaimers will headline the Festival on Saturday 23rd May in Perth Concert Hall. After completing a 2-year World Tour late in 2013, Craig and Charlie took 2014 off to focus entirely on writing a new album. They headed to Rockfield Studios in December with their band and producer Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey, Idlewild, The Who) and recorded their 10th studio album 'Let's Hear It For The Dogs' to be released on Cooking Vinyl in April this year. Click on The Proclaimers for more information.

King Creosote and his eight piece band will also play the Festival on the 22nd May featuring pieces from the sound track “Scotland With Love” and with numbers from his back catalogue. World class saxophonist Courtney Pine has also joined the line-up as has Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Other new developments include a Headphone Disco for all ages in a marquee sited beside Perth Concert Hall, the Festival Ceilidh with the Jim Mackay Dance Band and a dreamy Simply Gershwin show with orchestra, soloists and dancers.Click here for Information on all 2015 Shows

Tickets will go on sale on the 30th March. Friends of the Festival can book from 23rd March only £10 to join online.

The 44th Festival will run from 21st to 31st May. Over the years it has grown from its classical and opera roots to embrace a wide range of art forms. It is one of the oldest continuously running arts Festivals in Scotland.

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Press Reviews 2014

Friday 6th June 2014

A Moyet

The Herald Lorraine Wilson

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra with Melanie C

Perth Concert Hall

There's a scene in the 1980s movie 9½ weeks when Kim Basinger looks into Mickey Rourke's wardrobe and sees multiple copies of the same suit and shirt.

It must be the same for Jools's missus - black suits, black shirts. Nothing else. Tonight, like so many aspects of the show, his attire is no surprise. The fact my mind is drifting to Mr Holland's wardrobe isn't an indication that what's happening on stage isn't entertaining - it's a hard-hearted soul who wouldn't get caught up in the carnival atmosphere. However, there's no fear of drifting off and missing something new. It's harsh to say it's formulaic - after all, what's wrong with a formula if it's what an audience is hoping to see?

The difference comes with the guest vocalists - at the moment it's Marc Almond and Mel C.

There's no big band Wannabe, and while Almond leaves Jacques Brel alone thankfully, he does give us Tainted Love and Say Hello Wave Goodbye, while C (ahem, Chisholm) avoids her sporty stuff but among her mini set is Never Gonna Be The Same and a stonking version of Stevie Wonder's I Wish - where the horns really come alive.

Ruby Turner is back as Jools's "queen of boogie woogie", with the usual vocal histrionics of Peace In The Valley closing the main show. This show has become a staple of Perth Festival, with many people paying an annual fee to be a Friend of the Festival, allowing them to buy tickets for Jools before they go on general sale.

Crowd favourite Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) didn't make an appearance until the final encore, but no matter, it was a done deal by then.

The Herald
Review: Perth Festival

Dougie MacLean

Perth Concert Hall

Lorraine Wilson

four stars

FOR the closing night of this year's Perth Festival, it's tempting to say that Dougie MacLean has returned to his Perthshire roots. In truth, however, he has never left, despite the fact that for the past 40 years he has travelled the world as an ambassador for popular traditional music.

This concert, the Perthshire Cantata, is the debut of new songs, woven into the instrumental Perthshire Amber Suite, which was commissioned by the Festival in 1999.

This was the first performance of these songs and he confessed that he was using notes on an iPad to save himself from any "senior moments".

He was in good supportive hands, however, with the arrangements of John Logan. With universally excellent playing from Ross Ainslie on pipes, whistles and mandolin, Sorren MacLean on guitar and vocals, a guest appearance from Gordon MacLean on double bass, Jenna Reid on fiddle, and Iain Sandilands on percussion, there were also 11 string players of the Perthshire Ensemble to provide the texture and atmosphere that the compositions required.

Any Dougie MacLean performance is about more than the music, however. The communication with the audience is key, particularly family stories, which could as easily be told around a kitchen table with a couple of guitars and a bottle of single malt. It's impossible to avoid being swept along by his enthusiasm.

For many harder line traditionalists, the music might be a little heather-tinged and at times, overly sentimental, but it's obviously heartfelt.

As he tells the audience, his recording studio is in the Butterstone school attended by his father and grandfather, and it's clear that Perthshire is his first love. Festivals like Perth are right to support its own.


Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Perth Concert Hall

Catherine Robb

The RLPO is a big picture orchestra. There were moments during the concert when, the ensemble might not have been perfectly together, when the brass may have overpowered the strings, or when the tuning in the woodwind was less than faultless, but the important things - the parts of an orchestral experience that stick with you for hours after the musicians have gone home, those moments when the music grabs and shakes you with an electrifying gesture - the RLPO gave to the audience in spades on Sunday.

We need more big picture players right now, especially when we are concerned with attracting a larger, more inclusive audience. We need musicians who love music for music's sake, and see the benefits of playing it without the fear that the world will end if one note is out of place.

Under the baton of Vasily Petrenko, who may be the epitome of exciting large-scale music making, the RLPO's rendition of Elgar's In the South was as decadent as it should be, perhaps waning near the end after the slow, somewhat laborious middle section. The orchestra similarly captured the uneasy balance of fragility and solidity in Prokofiev's sixth symphony.

They also did well to show enthusiasm for the Scottish premiere of former Police drummer Stewart Copeland's new percussion concerto, which was harmonically unsophisticated and rhythmically aggressive. Although this Copeland may have been trying to mimic the lofty American heights of Aaron Copland, unfortunately his less mature compositional tool box let down the percussion soloists, with their solo lines lost amid a relentless orchestral accompaniment. There is only so much crotchet equalling 120 beats per minute a person can take in one night.


The Herald Lorraine Wilson
The Magic FluteEnglish Touring Opera

Perth Concert Hall
With Perth Theatre undergoing refurbishment until 2017, English Touring Opera has moved from its traditional Perth Festival home to the nearby concert hall.
It's the first time the festival has used the hall's orchestra pit; as it turned out, to great effect. The orchestra sounded rich and full and the music soared, but the hall's superb acoustics had a downside. With a wooden set on several levels connected by stairs, there was a fair amount of clomping.
Although it contains some of opera's best-known characters, ETO's production of Mozart's final opera, in which librettist Schikaneder created a fantastical tale of the search for love and happiness, has succeeded through being an ensemble success. However, Wyn Pencarreg as Papageno deserves to be singled out for a rounded comic performance with excellent singing, while Samantha Hay's Queen Of The Night aria is as spine-tingling as ever.
Perhaps it's personal preference but the success of opera can be about context. This is a highly stylised production, with sumptuous costumes, although the choice of pale-green coats and orange wigs for the three boys is reminiscent of Willy Wonka's Oompah Loompahs.
Although dark and clean, the set is designed ingeniously. The rich blue and soft lighting worked better with the more traditional Perth Theatre interior when the previous version of this production was there in 2009.
However, there's little doubt the move for 2014 was largely a success, but if the auditorium of Perth Theatre is restored as well as is planned, it might still provide a better aesthetic setting for productions as rich as this. 

The Scotsman - STEWART Copeland, former drummer with The Police, understands the power and sound potential of an orchestra.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic - Perth Concert Hall by Ken Walton


That was clear from his new percussion concerto for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Poltroons in Paradise, a musical representation of a triumphant army entering the palace of the regime it has overthrown, only to be dazzled by the extravagance of their spoils.

Vasily Petrenko conducted the concerto’s second performance last Sunday at the Perth Festival, following the success of its Liverpool premiere two days previously.

The punchy brass and warm-textured string writing, and the deftly-handled welter of percussion, played by four percussionists in their omnipresent role as back-row soloists, are all defining aspects of a work that undoubtedly has impact, due mainly to its rock-flavoured muscularity and unrelenting energy.

Copeland describes his soloists as the ”rhythm section”, and sure enough, they never get a second’s break. It’s all virtuoso stuff, including an ecstatic cadenza of multiple triangles, whose combined jangling sets up a climactic springboard to the final push home.

What lets it down is a lack of development. It sticks far too long around one key, and there’s an awful lot of stopping and starting – brief phrases that burst into life, immediately killed by frequent emergency stops. Copeland knows how to grab attention, but struggles with the bigger picture.

Elsewhere in this concert, Elgar’s In the South, with its glorious sweep of Mediterranean heat, and Prokofiev’s grotesquely hard-hitting Symphony No 6, were object lessons in how to achieve that.

Seen on 25.05.14


The Courier Garry Fraser
Primavera Chamber Ensemble

Welcome visitors to this year’s Perth Festival of the Arts the Primavera Chamber Ensemble, who played elegant and witty chamber music in St John’s Kirk.
The first half was Schubert’s Piano Quintet “The Trout” in a performance of pure and telling musical values. The opening movement set out their performance style:  unexaggerated, direct music making between friends, where individual capabilities added up to a cogent whole. To the brilliance of the Allegro vivace, the Andante extended emotional depth. At a well articulated Presto their Scherzo had both verve and spirit. Each player in turn was highlighted by Schubert in the variation movement on his own song which gives the work its nickname. Again it was the ensemble sound of equals working together which characterised the captivating Finale.
The second half began with four of Percy Grainger’s best known pieces given with affection and élan by the Primavera Chamber Ensemble. Shepherd’s Hey! was first up with panache and good humour, especially from Michael Dussek in his piano part. Next in Handel in the Strand his bustling piano part had the counter-melodies of the strings as partners and opponents. Country Gardens was the next well-loved piece, given by the two pianists with sparkling tone and a smile. In the final piece, Mock Morris, the vigorous tune enjoyed the full energy of four strings and piano.




The Courier Garry Fraser
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic: Vasily Petrenko

The sheer sound and impact of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at their Perth Festival 2014 concert was amazing. Right from their opening surge in Perth Concert Hall they gave absolutely 100% and put over the feeling that their Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko knew and lavished care on every single, tiny note.
And what an opening surge it was! They began Elgar’s Concert Overture Op.50 – In the South (Alassio) with all the energy and opulence this piece deserves. The strings were played with tremendous élan in the opening paragraphs, yet were no less good in the mysterious passage which followed. The Roman episode was epic, low brass and bass drum resounding: all the excitement of a huge orchestra going at full tilt. Catherine Marwood’s viola gave dreamily tender emotion to the canto popolare section and Vasily Petrenko gave Elgar’s lyrical bent full time to express itself before ending masterfully with what the programme notes rightly called an irresistible blaze of exuberance.
Outgoing, too, was the Scottish première of Stewart Copeland’s percussion concerto Poltroons in Paradise, a vivid seventeen minutes of rhythmic energy. It had a joyful start with colourful percussion continuing almost non-stop throughout the piece. From marimba and vibraphone, drums became the focus for the second part, with the third section becoming a riotous march which slows to the hammered out the final climactic notes.
The final work was a magnificent performance of Prokofiev’s Sixth Symphony. Though a powerful symphony and with Petrenko shining a searchlight into the smallest detail it was an oddly serious, dissonant work to end a festival concert. Again the RLPO were superb in sound and acute in their response. The deliberately non-committal first movement was continued almost without break into the anguished second. The third movement had two warring elements: a joyous chase in the style of his ballets, interrupted after just a few bars by the thumping of brass and percussion. It was virtuoso playing at its most perceptive, rising to a crisis after recalling the opening, but which had the life crushed out of it in its final bars. Petrenko and his orchestra were rightly cheered to the echo.

The Courier Garry Fraser
ENGLISH TOURING Opera is a popular fixture at Perth Festival of the Arts and this year’s opener (Thursday May 22) was that perennial crowd-pleaser, Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
With a convoluted, not to say incomprehensible plot, it’s packed with wonderful music. Freshness and fizzing energy were obvious right from the start with a crisp rendition of the overture from the chamber-scale ensemble and conductor Michael Rosewell. This set the pace for a staging with real imagination in a multi-level set, atmospherically lit and creatively detailed, that fitted perfectly onto the transformed stage of the Perth Concert Hall. Sung in an excellent English translation, the diction was generally so clear that there was little need for the subtitles.
If The Magic Flute is about anything, it’s the clash of the forces of darkness and light - the Queen of the Night and the High Priest Sarastro, a stratospheric soprano and a deep bass. Samantha Hay was a riveting Queen in glittering black with a train with a mind of its own, absolutely vocally secure from top to bottom and Piotr Lempa matched her flamboyance with sonorous tone and gravitas.
Baritone Wyn Pencarreg was outstanding as the boisterous birdcatcher Papageno, complete with detachable wings and feathery nicky-tams. He has a beautiful voice and is a natural comedian (an inspired skit with lampshades nearly brought the house down). He gelled perfectly with the hero, Prince Tamino (tenor Ashley Catling, who grew in vocal confidence as the evening progressed) and with his love interest, Papagena (the cute, cheeky Caryl Hughes). The pairing’s Welsh origins were used to witty effect in their spoken exchanges. Credit too to Stuart Haycock’s villainous and hugely stylish henchman Monostatos.
Damsel-in-distress, Pamina, can come across as a bit of a wet lettuce but Anna Patalong was superb, the richness and scale of her voice hinting at more dramatic roles to come, coupled with real subtlety. During her second act lament for lost love, you could have heard a pin drop.
The ensemble singing was well balanced with the chorus impersonating a monster in the opening scene as a kind of sinister conga chain. The two vocal trios (the Queen’s formidable Ladies and the mysterious Three Boys) were first class, with Susan Moore’s chocolatey alto particularly striking.

The Courier Garry Fraser
Reduced Shakespeare Company

I never, ever thought a review of mine would contain the phrase “I’ve never laughed so much in all my life”. But then, I’ve never seen anything quite like the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), a slicker and more seamless comedy routine you’ll be pushed to find. However, to say it’s a routine is an injustice. It’s a rip-roaring, cunningly-devised, superbly-delivered compilation of sketches, improvisation and ad-libs that add up to a superb evening’s entertainment. It also demonstrated the beauty and diversity of the Perth Festival. One evening you luxuriating in The Sixteen’s glorious Renaissance counterpoint, the next you are up to your ears in madcap, zany humour.
“Brush up your Shakespeare” is a famous song from the musical Kiss me Kate, but the three-man cast – Simon Cole, Gary Fannin and William Meredith  – not only brush up the Bard’s words, they tweak them, turn them upside down, exploit them and re-invent them in 90 minutes of madcap inventive humour, delivered with comic timing par excellence. They also rejoice in the ability to engage the audience from the start, adding some intimacy to the proceedings. The problem is, where does one start to review such a spellbinding array of comic genius? Everything was such a hoot and it was blindingly obvious that all three were having a ball.
However, there were some instances where the three paused their antics and indulged in straight recitations of Shakespeare’s dialogue, delivered with the polish one would expect from the other RSC, the one based in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Perhaps the funniest was their treatment of the Scottish Play, a version of Macbeth with outrageous accents (they called them “authentic”!), See-You-Jimmy wigs and wonderfully-extended rolling Rs. Their rap take on Othello was another hit, closely followed by Shakespeare’s 10 historical plays condensed into 5 minutes of American Football, rather more condensed with the opening abbreviated version of Romeo and Juliet, but equally hilarious.
The second “half” belonged to Hamlet (or Helmut as they were prone to say) with audience participation to the full as Ophelia’s inner angst was examined in great detail. Lots of fun there, but there was also amusement in Fannin’s increasingly hopeless attempt at the “to be or not to be” soliloquy. The play within a play was a hilarious puppet show, and as the threesome changed characters with fast and increasing regularity, the enjoyment increased ten-fold with bouncing skulls, farcical sword-fights and general mayhem the orders of the day.
Then they did it faster…then even faster. Then in reverse! No wonder the applause was loud and sustained. But the lads weren’t finished there, their energy unending. They were there to greet the audience as they left, handshakes and greetings adding a nice personal touch. That smacks very much of a class act!

The Courier Garry Fraser
The Sixteen

John Sheppard, William Mundy and Richard Davy aren’t composers whose names leap out from the page, but thanks to Harry Christophers and his marvellous Sixteen, wonderful illumination was shed on three un-sung heroes of English renaissance polyphony. The ensemble’s concert in St John’s Kirk, part of the Perth Festival and part of The Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage, was another example of outstanding a cappella singing, and after hearing this group many times I still shake my head at their effortless phrasing, blend and ease of delivery. How do they do it? Well, sublime ability is ever apparent, but the catalyst in the Sixteen’s unwavering excellence is Christophers himself as he gently encourages and cajoles his charges, caressing the music with a passion instilled over 30 years directing this group.
If I had any quibble it would be that I felt the concert was a tad on the short side, and I could easily have endured another 20 or so minutes of what was essentially a master class of this genre of music.
In this concert, and the others in the tour, Christophers and The Sixteen go back to their roots, re-discovering music recorded in the group’s early days in the 1980s. Perhaps absence has made the heart go fonder as the music was heartfelt, reflective and impassioned, particularly so in the works by Sheppard, his Gaude Maria, Liberas 1 and 2 and the two In Manus Tuas. I enjoyed the mix of plainsong and harmony, but it was in the first of these works – which opened the concert – that Christophers’ dexterity of direction manifested itself the most. A final raised third from the sopranos achieved with almost telepathic understanding.
Throughout the evening, the accent was firmly on the sacred and liturgical but there was one interesting inclusion in the programme that was on the cusp of the secular, Richard Davy’s Ah Mine Heart. It stood out alone not only for this reason but for its setting for tenor, bass and soprano, backed by chorus. Nice, very nice indeed and paved the way for the evening’s main ingredient and one of the first works the ensemble recorded, Mundy’s Vox Patris. There was more movement in this work, more urgency and more triumph, as befitting a work written for a joyful pageant for Queen Mary in 1553. Christophers calls it “a colossal 17-minute work, difficult in its execution but thrilling to listen to”. The difficulty in execution is almost impossible to fathom when performed by a world-class group like The Sixteen but there is no doubting its immense appeal.
There is also no doubting a capacity audience, certainly the biggest I’ve seen in this beautiful acoustic-friendly church, would have enjoyed every minute, every semi-quaver of this performance with everyone hopeful for a re-appearance at next year’s Festival.


The Courier Garry Fraser
Milos and The Royal Northern Sinfonia

He is called, quite simply, Milos. The surname Karadaglic isn’t needed as you are almost on first-name terms with him such is his affability and relaxed demeanour. However, under this informality lies a stunning technique, style and intense interpretation and any of those who thought he wasn’t a bid enough name to enhance the last orchestral concert of the Perth Festival should think again. He made as big an impact and gave as enthralling a performance as any other soloist I’ve heard.

Luckily we saw him in two guises, out on his own and as a concerto soloist. In both genres he was quite outstanding. The opening JS Bach Prelude and Fugue, BWV 977, was complete joy, the intricacies of the fugue masterly overcome. The second work was totally different in every aspect, Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba Suite, a four-movement work that demands the most stunning technique and ability, both of which Milos has by the barrowload.

I’m not sure what the microphone was for, as players of his prowess shouldn’t need amplification. But if it was used in the Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez it must have helped him stand out in the full orchestral passages. The second movement cadenza alone told you all you needed to know about this fantastic guitarist, but it was his dovetailing with the excellent Royal Northern Sinfonia, directed by Bradley Creswick from the violin, that sealed a superb performance.

The Sinfonia deserve a mention of their own. Seldom have I seen such a disciplined performance, and their delivery of symphonies by Prokofiev and Mozart were out of the top drawer, as was Barber’s beautiful Adagio for strings. A class orchestra and class soloist – the perfect package.

The Courier Garry Fraser
“A small kingdom and I am king of it!” That was how Frederic Chopin summed up his life, and he wasn’t far wrong. His works are highly individual but the man himself is something of an enigma, his life not nearly as well-documented as other composers. That was put to rights by Nocturne, The Romantic Life of Frederic Chopin, part of the Perth Festival and where the bones of the composer’s life were left bare through narration, recitation and performance. The skills of pianist Lucy Parham and the eloquence of Dame Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman led to a thought-provoking, meditative and nostalgic evening as we followed the all-too-short life of one of the greatest keyboard composers.
However, the performance lacked a theatrical setting such productions crave, and I found the usually excellent acoustic of St Johns Kirk not ideal for the un-amplified spoken word. Sitting at the back meant I often had to concentrate on the delivery of the two narrators. I thought Goodman was the more effective of the two as his was a more dynamic and purposeful delivery with Dame Harriet not quite as forthcoming. However, the characterisations of Chopin and his amour George Sand were captured perfectly.
The performance of Lucy Parham, who devised and presented this musical biopic, left nothing to be desired. Her choice of music was sound, reflecting the often sombre mood that was the story’s undercurrent. The choice of two nocturnes to end each half of the concert illustrated the composer’s knack for deed sentimentality but there were moments of brightness, with his military-style A major P

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International Delights for 2014 City Arts Festival

Sunday 1st June 2014

Liverpool Vasily

Now in its 43rd year Perth Festival is one of the oldest continuously running arts festivals in Scotland. Don't miss The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko and a new commission by Police drummer Stewart Copeland. .

•    award winning Montenegrin classical guitarist, Miloš Karadaglic and The Royal Northern Sinfonia
•    the amazing Mnozil Brass  from Austria 
•    a full scale production of “The Magic Flute” by English Touring Opera - the first time the Festival has staged opera in Perth Concert Hall using the orchestra pit – all very exciting
•    a major new commission entitled “The Perthshire Cantata” from Dougie MacLean 
•    World class choir The Sixteen continue their Choral Pilgrimage
•    The return of the arTay contemporary art marquee featuring over 70 Scottish artists
•    Alison Moyet
•    Scouting for Girls
•    Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra with Melanie C and Marc Almond 
•    and so much more...
The 2014 Perth Festival of the Arts will open on Thursday 22nd May in Perth Concert Hall with English Touring Opera’s production of “The Magic Flute”. In previous years the operas have been staged in Perth Theatre, which is now closed for three years for refurbishment. The bold decision was taken to move the opera to the Concert Hall. ETO will bring their full production including set, costumes and lighting rig and the orchestra will be installed in the orchestra pit. This is the first time that the Festival has used the orchestra pit since the hall opened in 2005. Normally they are squeezed into the Theatre they will not be surprised at the amount of space they will have. This production is keenly anticipated.
The Festival is delighted that the award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will play at Perth Concert Hall on Sunday 25th May. It is the UK's oldest professional symphony orchestra and has been at the heart of Liverpool’s cultural life since 1840. Their Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko, who joined in 2006 is recognised as one of the exceptional musicians of his generation. The programme will include Elgar’s In the South, Stewart Copeland (from The Police) Percussion Concerto new commission and Prokofiev Symphony No 6.
One of the hottest properties in classical music, Miloš Karadaglic came to international attention in 2011 with his debut album “The Guitar (Mediterráneo)” which, in the space of just a few months, topped classical charts around the world, became an internationally best selling sensation and earned Miloš Gramophone’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award. Milos will play Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with the The Royal Northern Sinfonia. Geoffrey Norris of The Daily Telegraph said: "The playing is lithe, subtle of timbre and transcendentally beautiful."
The amazing Mnozil Brass from Austria play classical, jazz and other styles of music using traditional brass instruments and more unusual instruments such as the keyed trumpet and Wagner tuba. Music is presented with a typical Austrian style of humour, which can be approximately characterized as "jet black" and "here and there" absurd. Elements of slapstick exist next to virtuosic brass playing.
The Sixteen - Choral Pilgrimage In 2014 The Sixteen revisits the golden age of Renaissance polyphony in England, presenting a stunning programme of music by John Sheppard, Richard Davy and William Mundy. It is a huge privilege to be part of this Pilgrimage and St John’s Kirk is the perfect setting for this sublime concert.
Local talent will also be very much on show at this year’s Festival with “The Perthshire Cantata” a new commission by Dougie MacLean. It will be an original 'song based' composition using Perthshire themes in the inspiration and lyric, incorporating trad/roots based and contemporary styles. This will be performed in Scotland and abroad to celebrate the new city status of Perth and the wonderful county in the heart of Scotland that is Perthshire.  
Alison Moyet will be playing her back catalogue and songs from her critically acclaimed and top 5 album minutes. Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra will be joined by Melanie C and Marc Almond and Scouting for Girls make their Festival debut on the 30th May. The Festival Ceilidh is becoming an institution not to be missed. This the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band takes to the stage.
Perthshire actor, Ian Grieve, will perform in “Confessions of Gordon Brown” - a sell-out success at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, which was also staged in the West End. Gordon Brown hilariously exposes the darkest secrets of being Prime Minister, the stab-in-the-back plottings, the betrayals and most importantly - the hair gel. Love him or loathe him, Gordon Brown was our greatest failure at being Prime Minister in 200 years. In a candid portrait of life inside Downing Street Gordon at last reveals what it takes to knife your way to the top and rule a nation. And how his dream of power all went wrong. Brand new one man play by acclaimed Scots Emmy-nominated writer and director Kevin Toolis in a manyrivers production.
Scottish Soprano Colleen Nicoll,  from Dunkeld, will sing a Saturday Morning Recital in St John’s Kirk. She read music at The University of Edinburgh where she studied voice with Patricia Hay. Colleen graduated in 2010 with an honours degree in music and has since been working as a singer and singing teacher in Edinburgh and around the UK.
London Classic Theatre will stage “Entertaining Mr Sloane” by Joe Orton in Perth Concert Hall.
It was first staged at the Arts Theatre in London in 1964, winning the London Critics ‘Variety’ award for Best Play of the Year. Its unique blend of farce and black comedy beautifully captures the suppressed desires of the period.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company perform all 37 of Shakespeare Plays in 97 Minutes! An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine years in London’s West End at the Criterion Theatre! Join these madcap men in tights as they weave their wicked way through all of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies in one wild ride that will leave you breathless and helpless with laughter.
Other gems in the Festival programme include “Nocturne - The Romantic Life of Frédéric Chopin”
with Lucy Parham, Dame Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman. "A passionate, humorous and deeply moving portrait of the relationship between Chopin and Sand" Music Web International 2010. There will also be a visit from the Primavera Ensemble, who will perform Schubert - Quintet in A major D 667 (Trout) and Saint-Saëns - Carnival of the Animals.
ArTay makes a welcome return to the streets of Perth. The large tented gallery will be packed full of contemporary Scottish art with over 300 works on display. It will be sited outside Perth Concert Hall. It will be free and many of the works will be for sale curated by Frames Gallery.
Festival Chairman Peter Rutterford said "We are very much looking forward to an exciting year at the Festival with a number of international stars, particularly Vasily Petrenko and Milos Karadaglic. There will be some new commissioned works and lots of traditional favourites."
There are many free events including daily lunchtime concerts by Perthshire Schools and by Perth Youth Orchestra, Art on the River and lots of local exhibitions. The Festival is a registered charity now in its 43rd year. Over the years it has grown from its classical and opera roots to embrace a wide range of art forms
The Festival runs from 22nd May to 1 June. Tickets are now on sale at Perth Concert Hall and online at



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Alison Moyet to headline in 2014

Sunday 1st June 2014

A Moyet

The Festival is delighted to announce that Alison Moyet will perform at Perth Festival on Saturday 24th May 2014 in Perth Concert Hall. Alison has received critical acclaim for her Top 5 album the minutes. This concert places the minutes centre stage and will also focus on the
significant electronic material in her back catalogue.
Everyone adores Alison Moyet; the Basildon punk, the high priestess of electronic pop, and the peerless soul singer who has warmed our big
British hearts since the early 1980s.
Her UK album sales have reached a certified 2.3 million, with over a million singles sold. All seven of her studio albums and three compilation
albums have charted in the Top 30 UK Album Chart, with two of the albums reaching number one. She has also achieved nine Top 30 singles and five Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart.
“Her best LP in decades” Q
“Moyet's finest album in twenty years” Clash
“A musical resurrection in the making” The Huffington Post

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Premiere of new concerto by Stewart Copeland

Saturday 31st May 2014

stewart copeland

Commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic from Stewart Copeland, composer, and co-founder member and former drummer of seminal 1980s band, The Police, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko, will give the world premiere performance of Copeland’s percussion concerto, Poltroons in Paradise on 23 May at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and a second performance at Perth Festival on 25 May 2014.

Scored for timpani, three percussionists and full symphony orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Timpanist Neil Hitt, Principal Percussionist Graham Johns and fellow percussionists Josephine Frieze and Henry Baldwin take centre stage for this scintillating work.  All four soloists will demonstrate their virtuosity across the full, exotic range of percussion instruments digging deep into their timbral and rhythmic possibilities in an interaction with the orchestra.

Voted the seventh greatest drummer of all time in a 2010 poll in Rolling Stone magazine, Copeland was drummer with Curved Air before The Police, and subsequently with many major artists. He has also developed a highly successful second career as a composer for film, TV and the concert hall.  He says of his inspiration for this new concerto:

Poltroons in Paradise is the beginning of a story, the cheerful part, about those who ride in on the back of a revolution and then discover the temptations of those things against which they had revolted.  I’m imagining a cadre of starving, hitherto excluded intellectuals swaggering through the palace of the fallen regime. The chandeliers, the brocades and the gilded furniture all inspire a grand buffoonery that hides a sneaking desire.

“Many composers would regard the mission of writing a percussion concerto as an opportunity to celebrate banging and clattering.  A worthy cause no doubt, but there can be great beauty in things that are hit with a stick.  And those satins really are quite beautiful…”

Following this concert, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall closes for a major refurbishment, re-opening in November this year.    The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will travel to Scotland to perform in the Perth Festival of the Arts on 25 May for the Brewin Dolphin Festival Concert that includes a second performance of Stewart Copeland’s Poltroons in Paradise.

Voted the seventh greatest drummer of all time in a 2010 poll in Rolling Stone magazine, Stewart Copeland was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of a CIA officer and a Scottish archaeologist. The family moved to Egypt when he was a few months old and he spent his formative years in the Middle East, something which is held to have contributed to his distinctive drumming style, which is said to combine reggae and Lebanese influences. Following his return to the USA, Copeland was drummer for the progressive rock band Curved Air from 1974-1976. After their demise he moved to London, seeking to enter the British punk rock scene, and in 1977 co-founded the three-piece band The Police with Sting as singer-bassist. The Police became one of most influential bands of the 1980s. At least in their early years, they largely played Copeland’s material, and though Sting took a progressively larger share as the band developed, Copeland continued to be responsible, or jointly responsible, for arranging the material on all of the band’s albums.
The Police ceased touring in 1984 (though they came together again for a one-off reunion tour in 2007), and Copeland has continued to appear with many major artists while he also developed a highly successful second career as a film-music and TV composer (his credits include Airborne, Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Highlander II – widely regarded as ‘one of the worst films ever made’ – and Taking Care of Business). In 1985 he made a pilgrimage to Africa ‘in search of the roots of rock and roll’ which resulted in the album and film The Rhythmatist in which Copeland played a large number of native percussion instruments.
Since the 1980s, Copeland has also composed several ‘classical’ works, notably the ballets King Lear (1986), Emilio (1988) and Prey (1999) and the operas Holy Blood and Crescent Moon (for Cleveland Opera, 1989) and Horse Opera (for Channel 4, 1992). In 2005 he released an album of chamber music composed in Italy, Orchestralli. His orchestral composition Celeste, featuring violinist Daniel Hope, was premiered at the Savannah Music Festival in 2008. In the same year the Dallas Symphony Orchestra commissioned him to compose a piece primarily involving Indonesian percussion instruments: the result, premiered in 2011, was Gamelan D’Drum, which was also heard at London’s Royal College of Music in 2012. Copeland currently lives in Los Angeles.





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Dougie MacLean commissioned to create new work "The Perthshire Cantata"

Friday 30th May 2014


Arranged by John Logan, ‘Perthshire Cantata’ will be performed by leading musicians including Greg Lawson, principal second violinist at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and piper, Ross Ainslie amongst others. The project is supported by an award of £9,470 from Creative Scotland.

Seven commissions across Scotland have been supported with a total of £148,470 through Creative Scotland’s Traditional Arts Programme, which aims to ensure Scotland’s traditional arts are recognised and celebrated nationally and internationally.

The purpose of the fund is to support new commissions of Traditional Arts activity – of various scales and art forms – that can be performed or exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally – reflecting local diversity, and Scots and or Gaelic where appropriate.

Leonie Bell, acting director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said:

“Traditional arts play a unique role in Scotland’s cultural identity, communities are bound by the stories and music around them, our history is kept alive, our future shaped. These diverse commissions draw on different strands of this country’s vibrant musical and literary traditions, creating work that has its own place and meaning in the 21st-century.”

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Scouting for Girls join 2014 Perth Festival Line-up

Wednesday 28th May 2014


The concert comes following the release their Greatest Hits album on 29 July 2013, a compilation which includes two brand new songs, including new single Millionaire, as well as favourites including She's So Lovely, Heartbeat, This Ain't A Love Song and Elvis Ain't Dead.
Over the course of three sparkling, life-affirming, Top 10 albums, Scouting For Girls have made the journey from playing pubs in Harrow and Ruislip to headlining Wembley Arena and the Albert Hall.  This, then, is the tale of three friends who followed their dream, seduced a nation and sold two million records along the way.  The band consists of childhood friends from London, Roy Stride on piano and lead guitar/vocals, Greg Churchouse on bass guitar and Peter Ellard on percussion.

After two years of hard touring, ‘Everybody Wants To Be On TV’ soared into the British top two, ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ gave them their first Number 1 single (“a real turning point; we knew then we weren’t going to go away,” remembers Roy) and by 2011 they were headlining Wembley Arena a few miles but several light years away, from their modest beginnings.   2011’s ‘The Light Between Us’ made it three out of three Top 10 albums as Scouting For Girls evolved into a national institution, the under-rated band we love more than we think we do.  Roy has embarked upon a sideline of writing songs for others including One Direction (‘I love how Scouting for Girls have been bringing feel good pop music to Britain in the past years.’ – Louis Tomlinson, One Direction), Olly Murs and Alexandra Burke amongst others.

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Glamorous production of Mozarts The Magic Flute to get Perth Festival underway

Wednesday 7th May 2014

ETO's Magic Flute

A glamorous and critically-acclaimed production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute comes to Perth Concert Hall as the opening performance of the Perth Festival on Thursday 22 May, after first appearing in the city in 2009.

 First performed in Vienna in 1791, The Magic Flute remains one of the world’s most popular operas. It was written as a singspiel, which combined music and spoken dialogue rather like a modern musical and, as a result, remains one of the most accessible operas performed today.  The story is a romantic adventure, following a young prince and princess on a terrifying and joyful journey in pursuit of love. Mozart’s beautiful score ranges from the show-stopping arias of the Queen of the Night to jolly folk tunes.

ETO’s production is directed by choreographer Liam Steel, whose previous work includes the 2012 Olympic torch handover and the film version of Les Misérables. The staging is very lively and physical with enthralling visuals, and the opera is sung in full costume and accompanied by a live orchestra of 25 musicians, conducted by Michael Rosewell.

ETO’s General Director James Conway said: ‘Anyone who saw Liam Steel’s memorable production of The Magic Flute for ETO in 2009 will remember its endless invention and charm, and its clear and faithful presentation of the story.’  He added: ‘With Liam bringing his huge experience in choreography to this show, I don’t think I have ever seen a chorus so busy! We’re delighted to be reviving this production in Perth’.

The Magic Flute is performed at Perth Concert Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday 22 May. Tickets range from £25 to £38. Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes including one interval. Tickets and further information 01738 621 031 /

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Quality abounds in 2013

Saturday 30th November 2013

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Sir James and Lady Galway will play at the Festival’s Opening Concert on Sunday 19th May with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jaime Martin. Sir James will play the Mozart flute concerto. The living legend of the flute, Sir James Galway is regarded as both the supreme interpreter of the classical flute repertoire and a consummate entertainer whose appeal crosses all musical boundaries. Sir James has made himself a modern musical master whose virtuosity on the flute is equalled only by his limitless ambition and vision. Through his extensive touring, over 30 million albums sold and his frequent international television appearances, Sir James has endeared himself to millions worldwide and is a tireless promoter of the arts. 



A list singer-songwriter Van Morrison OBE will play at Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday 22nd May. Some of his recordings, such as Astral Weeks and Moondance the live album It’s Too Late to Stop No were critically acclaimed and appear at the top of many greatest album lists. He rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B band Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic Gloria. His solo career began with the release of the hit single Brown Eyed Girl in 1967.

After last year’s huge sell-out success Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra will return to the Festival to play on Friday 17th May with a Special Guest Roland Gift, the voice of Fine Young Cannibals. Scottish rising stars Admiral Fallow supported by Dundee band, The Hazey Janes, will also play at Perth Concert Hall.


English Touring Opera, the UK’s leading touring opera company, return to Perth from Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th May with three new productions focusing on storytelling through bel canto, beautiful singing. James Conway directs the first-ever UK professional tour of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais, with designs by Samal Blak, inspired by the Siege of Stalingrad. Donizetti’s opera is performed alongside Simon Boccanegra – ETO’s first new Verdi production in several years – and Paul Higgins’ new period production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. James Conway, ETO’s General Director, said: ‘Our plans are very ambitious, but we have prepared for them for some time. In terms of imagery there is a theme running through them of people in cities governed by the sea – Genoa, Naples, and Calais. Mostly, though, our work reflects the diversity and richness of opera.’


World-renowned choir The Sixteen will sing in St John’s Kirk of Perth as part of its most far-reaching Choral Pilgrimage tour yet, encompassing 34 concerts around the UK. The tour, entitled The Queen of Heaven, will see Harry Christophers CBE and his choir perform glorious music in churches and cathedrals for which it was written. This will be a ‘must-hear’ event where the group will take you through the musical evolution of the Allegri’s legendary and much-requested Miserere. The programme also features stunning music by the ‘Prince of Music’ Palestrina, as well another brilliant yet contrasting setting of the Miserere by James Macmillan.


For almost seven decades, the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, which will close the Festival, has been recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of the classic Russian composers. A Los Angeles Times critic recently said the orchestra ‘might well be the world’s least-heralded great orchestra’. Since Pavel Kogan became Music Director he has earned the orchestra a reputation for artistic excellence and in 2011 his name was included on a list of the ten greatest conductors of the 20th century.


Oscar Wilde’s theatrical masterpiece is widely-acknowledged as one of the greatest comedies in the English Language.  Wonderful characters, sparkling dialogue, gloriously improbable plot twists and a sprinkling of romance - The Importance of Being Earnest has it all. London Classic Theatre promises to bring this 19th century classic to vivid, extravagant life with their customary flair, attention to detail, high-quality casting and impeccable production values.


Beloved Clara, the story of the intense relationships between Robert Schumann, his wife Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, has always fascinated music lovers. Music, performed by the award-winning pianist Lucy Parham, is interspersed with extracts from their letters and diaries, which are read by Martin Jarvis and Joanna David.


Other gems include Horrible Histories by Birmingham Stage Company, fresh from their success at the Edinburgh Fringe, a sweet song and dance show about Jacques Brel by Edinburgh based Heels Over Head Dance Company, a Festival Ceilidh with Perthshire’s The Gallivanters and Festival favourites The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra play the music of Stan Kenton.


The Festival is not only all about big name international stars but also nurtures local musical talent. Each year the Festival hosts a recital by a young Perth musician who has decided to make a career in music. This year Jessica Hall will perform a concert in St John’s Kirk on Saturday 18th May.  


There are many free events including daily lunchtime concerts by Perthshire Schools and by Perth Youth Orchestra, Art on the River and lots of local exhibitions. Perth Museum and Art Gallery will stage a special exhibition - A Sense of Place New & Innovative Responses to Perth & Kinross by members of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.


This year the Festival invited three artists to submit ideas for a new Festival design funded by EventScotland. Cat O’Neil is the chosen artist and she has created designs which with feature for the next three Festivals in brochures, programmes, banners and advertising.


The Festival is a registered charity now in its 42nd year. Over the years it has grown from its classical and opera roots to embrace a wide range of art forms.

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Read 2013 Reviews

Monday 27th May 2013

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Admiral Fallow - The Herald


The Sixteen - The Herald


Van Morrison - The Scotsman


Van Morrison - The Herald


Van Morrison - The Courier


Van Morrison - Perthshire Advertiser


Moscow State Symphony Orchesta - The Scotsman


Moscow State Symphony Orchestra - The Herald


Moscow State Symphony Orchestra - The Perthshire Advertiser


The Importance of Being Earnest - The Scotsman


The Importance of Being Earnest - The Herald


All Three English Touring Opera Productions - The Opera Critic


Cosi fan tutte - The Herald


Simon Boccanegra - The Herald


Simon Boccanegra - The Scotsman


The Siege of Calais - The Herald


Jools Holland - The Herald


Jools Holland - The Perthshire Advertiser


Sir James Galway and The English Chamber Orchestra


Jacques Brel - The Herald




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