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On 20th February, Music for Galway launched the full programme for Cellissimo, a new international cello festival on the edge of Europe that will be held across Galway city and county from Saturday 18th May to Sunday 26th May. The festival will feature hundreds Irish and international artists, composers, musicians, performers, and speakers. The festival will gather the leading lights of the cello, classical and contemporary scene for nine days and nights of music, song, and story in the West of Ireland.

Cellissimo will be a dynamic, inclusive, accessible celebration, appealing to both classical aficionados and first timers alike, striking a chord with Irish and international music audiences.

The Cellissimo Festival
will also be a forum for the exploration of the power of music and the arts to drive understanding and influence behavioural change around the shared global challenges of the climate crisis, migration, and sustainability. Two distinctive programmes are embedded in the festival’s DNA:

  • Songs of Travel, a three year transnational Creative Europe Cooperation Project, ideated by Music for Galway CEO Anna Lardi, led by Music for Galway, in partnership with Fairplay Chamber Music, Sweden; Valdres Sommersymfoni, Norway; Piano Biënnale, The Netherlands and Austrian game development studio Causa Creations.
  • Galway Bay is Calling, a collaborative community project funded by the Creative Climate Action fund, an initiative of Creative Ireland, led by Music for Galway in partnership with Galway Atlantaquaria and Atlantic Technological University.

Stars of the cello and classical world announced for Galway include Eimear Noone (Irish, conductor and composer), Alban Gerhardt (German, cello), Camille Thomas (Franco-Belgian, cello), Nicolas Altstaedt (German-French, cello), Jakob Koranyi (Swedish, cello), Karmit Fadael (Dutch-Israeli, composer), Rachel Croash (Irish, soprano), Daria van den Bercken (Dutch-Russian, piano), Bogdan Sofei (Romanian-Irish, violin), Killian White (Irish, cello), Natalie Clein (British, cello), the National Symphony Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Cello Ireland, and many more.

Cellissimo Opening Night Saturday 18th May

Opening night will see the commencement of the festival-long performance and discussion programme Songs of Travel. The Journey Begins will feature keynote speaker, former President of Ireland, Chair of the Elders and climate justice advocate Mary Robinson and the National Symphony Orchestra with a star-studded cast including cellists Alban Gerhardt and Jakob Koranyi, and Cellissimo Artistic Director, Finghin Collins on piano.

The evening will host the debut of a new work for cello, piano and orchestra by composer Djuro Zivkovic, the first of five world premieres commissioned through Songs of Travel, each of which will be performed for the first time ever at Cellissimo. Other composers, artists, musicians, and speakers taking part in Songs of Travel events throughout the festival include Elaine Agnew, Lasse Thoresen, Hawar Tawfiq, Karmit Fadael, Killian White, Stephanie Dufresne, Rachel Croash, Alex Petcu, Macdara Ó Seireadain, Adedotun Adekeye, Pol Ó Conghaile and many more.

Galway Bay is Calling

Galway Bay is Calling will be the afternoon opening event of Cellissimo on Saturday 18th May, with Galway-born, Florence–based cellist, composer, and singer Naomi Berrill and more than one hundred singers, musicians, and performers from Galway Jam Circle, Voice of Galway, and Galway Camerata.

Other Cellissimo Highlights

Elsewhere on the Cellissimo programme, audiences will enjoy the National Symphony Orchestra in the hometown debut of world acclaimed Galway conductor and composer Eimear Noone, with the incredible Adrian Mantu of the ConTempo Quartet; The Story of a Cello with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Franco-Belgian cello sensation Camille Thomas; a chamber concert with German–French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and friends; the Bach Plus series with six newly commissioned cello pieces by six Irish composers to accompany Bach’s six cello suites which will be performed at St. Nicholas Collegiate Church in the city during the day, and then at locations across the county in the evening, including Campbell's Tavern, Ballynahinch Castle, Claregalway Castle and more.

Also on the bill, Classic Hour at Town Hall Theatre, a three-part series of classic favourites for cello and piano featuring Alban Gerhardt with Hugh Tinney, Killian White with Daria van den Bercken, and Natalie Clein with Music for Galway and Cellissimo Artistic Director Finghin Collins.

Sustainability at Cellissimo

Sustainability is at the heart of Cellissimo, with the festival team working towards achieving sustainable operation. This includes the encouragement and facilitation of artists and participants to sustainably travel to Ireland and Galway by sail and rail where possible, realised through generous partnerships with both Irish Ferries and Irish Rail, Cellissimo Sustainable Travel Partners. Cellissimo calls on all audiences to consider sustainable travel in their festival plans.

Download the full Cellissimo Festival programme.

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