Mozart and Heaney’s works play centre stage at Kilkenny Arts Festival

Actor Simon Callow opened the 43rd Kilkenny Arts Festival

Ireland’s largest-ever celebration of Mozart’s music has kicked off in Kilkenny.

Kilkenny Arts Festival, now in its 43rd year, began yesterday and central to the event is the music of Mozart.

There will be 15 concerts in total throughout the festival plus talks.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) is the festival’s orchestra-in-residence — a position it will hold for the next three years.

Over this, the opening weekend, the orchestra will perform some of Mozart’s late symphonies, conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy and Jörg Widmann.

Accompanying the ICO will be Four Weddings and a Funeral actor Simon Callow, who will read selections from some of Mozart’s letters.

Callow is not the only actor participating in the festival: The works of the late poet Seamus Heaney will be brought to life by actor, Stephen Rea. He will read the full work of Heaney’s translation of Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid, which was the poet’s last great project.

Rea will read the translation at Watergate Theatre today and tomorrow and in Dunmore Cave on Monday.

The only tickets still available are for the Sunday reading.

He will read the late poet’s work with a live soundscape by composer and cellist Neil Martin.

“It’s a remarkable translation by Seamus Heaney, his translations are wonderful,” Rea told the Irish Examiner at the festival’s launch.

“I’m honoured to be asked to do it. It’s got more high- powered now, the Kilkenny Arts Festival.”

In terms of drama, travelling ensemble Footsbarn Theatre will pitch a tent along the banks of the River Nore, just opposite Kilkenny Castle. They will bring their comic twist to their performances of The Incomplete Works of Shakespeare and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Other events at the festival include Casement: Body of Evidence, which marks the centenary of the humanitarian’s death.

Roger Casement was executed on August 3, 1916, for his role in the Easter Rising.

This event takes place at 3pm tomorrow in the Parade Tower and will be a reflection on the British diplomat’s life.


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