Women in the spotlight at St Magnus International Festival

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With a current focus in the Arts world on addressing the gender gap, this year’s St Magnus International Festival continues a long history of providing opportunities for all with a host of female performers, composers and writers.

Festival Director Alasdair Nicolson says: “I’m delighted to be able to say that this year’s Festival is full of immensely talented, internationally renowned and high achieving women and looking back through the history of the event this is not something which I’ve had to address.  From performers to composers, students on our courses and participants in our community events the sense of gender equality has quietly gone without saying. This year we have an immensely talented array of artists many of whom happen to be women.”

This year’s Festival poet is Sinéad Morrissey, who blazes the trail for high-achieving women artists.   Born in Belfast, she won the Kavanagh Prize at the remarkable age of 18 and then went on to win the T.S Eliot Prize in 2013 before becoming Belfast’s Poet Laureate.  Brought up in a divided society she writes:

“When things get very tribal and divided between two groups of people, much of reality is predetermined by which side of the divide you stand on and where your values were formed. It was very liberating not to be on either side and to feel quite apart from those two dynamics."

Her fascinating career has taken her to Japan and New Zealand before returning home to Northern Ireland and more recently she has been appointed Professor of Poetry at Newcastle University.  Her work is insightful and moving, reflective and direct and her readings are well worth experiencing.

The roster of female artists continues with Zoë Martlew who is one of the UK’s finest. She provides two diverse performances showing an abundance of talent as cellist, actress, writer, and comedienne.  Her Revue Z  cabaret show is a tour-de-force, one-woman event which takes you on a journey from Victoria Wood-style observational sketches to experimental performance which has been described as “unhinged, uncensored, underwired and an unforgettable experience”.  She will also present a calmer late-evening solo recital in the austere and atmospheric St Peter’s Kirk, Sandwick with intriguing music for cello including her own new work.

Measha Bruegergosman arrives in Orkney with her “Songs of Freedom” fresh from performances with the world’s most renowned orchestras and opera companies.  Brueggergosman is a star performer from Canada whose career has taken her across the world in classical music but for Orkney, she’s leading a project of freedom songs which spins off from her television series about African American spirituals. 

Award-winning violinist Fenella Humphreys, Bulgarian cellist Yoanna Prodanova and the virtuoso American violinist Elena Urioste (below) are just some of the other female artists in a not-to-be-missed 2018 Festival bringing chamber works new and old by women composers.

There is no other event, certainly in Scotland, that blurs the boundaries between community arts and the professional world as relentlessly as Orkney's St Magnus Festival.
Keith Bruce - The Herald

St Magnus International Festival, 13 Albert Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HP

T: +44 (0)1856 871445

E: info@stmagnusfestival.com

St Magnus Festival is a charity registered in Scotland. Scottish Charity No SC011666. Company Number SC073825.

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