St Magnus International Festival
is Orkney's annual celebration of the arts. Founded in 1977 by a group including Orkney's distinguished resident composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Festival has grown from small beginnings into one of Britain's most highly regarded and adventurous arts events. The 40th Festival will take place in 2016.
The unique combination of world-class performance, community participation of the highest quality and the magic of Orkney at midsummer attracts audiences from throughout Britain and further afield: many return year after year.
Though musical events are at the heart of the artistic programme, the Festival also encompasses drama, dance, literature and the visual arts.
The Festival's Artistic Director since 2011 is Scottish composer Alasdair Nicolson.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is the Festival's Honorary President and the Honorary Vice President is Glenys Hughes.
To read more about the History of the Festival click here
World Class Performances
Each year the Festival brings a full scale Orchestra to the islands together with leading ensembles and soloists. They will perform in various combinations and in different venues to present shows that are unique to the Festival.
The Festival has a long reputation for commissioning and nurturing new work. The Festival always features a number of World Premieres: ranging from work by well-established composers through to a concert with up to eight pieces of music created as part of the Orkney Composers Course.
Specially-commissioned work has also been created for visual arts, drama, film and dance projects.
The Festival makes use of various venues around Orkney, from The Romanesque grandeur of St Magnus Cathedral to the poignant intimacy of the Italian Chapel; from a converted games hall to the new purpose-built Theatre at Kirkwall Grammar School; from shoreside churches to the Stromness Town Hall.
Through education and community projects the Festival has built up active participation by adults and children from all parts of Orkney, often devised in collaboration with visiting orchestras, ensembles and artists.
Side by Side with BBC Symphony Orchestra - Picture: Leslie Burgher
The St Magnus Festival Chorus attracts around 140 singers from all parts of Orkney and large-scale community drama productions feature frequently.
MagFest is a strand of 'Fringe' style events and performances which is of a different character each year.
Festival on Tour
Since 2000, the Festival on Tour project has seen visiting artists and ensembles tour to Orkney's remote outer islands, giving workshops and performances for the island schools and communities.
The Festival runs a series of courses providing a unique opportunity for creators and performers to work together in developing their skills. Sessions are open to the public and the courses culminate in Festival concerts.
There are three courses: for Composers, Conductors and Writers. Sessions are open to the public and the courses culminate in Festival concerts.
St Magnus Festival is a registered Scottish Charitable Company, limited by guarantee.
The Board of Directors oversee the management of the company and an Annual General Meeting of company members is held in the Spring.
Company membership can be obtained by signing up here.