It features large-scale spectaculars, family events, a children’s festival, live music, comedy and cabaret, as well as pop-ups, free events and installations.
Produced by music organisation The Stables, and supported by Arts Council England and Milton Keynes Council, events and performances will again take place in locations across Central Milton Keynes and, for the first time, in some of the city’s beautiful rural surroundings – The Cathedral of Trees in Newlands, Willen Lake and Park.
Festival director Monica Ferguson, chief executive of The Stables theatre in Wavendon, said: “IF: Milton Keynes International Festival has been developed to enrich people’s experience of Milton Keynes both by presenting top-class events by international artists and also by creating events within the city for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.
“The city is animated throughout each of the Festival’s 10-day run with some of the best performances, music, comedy, artists and large-scale events the world has to offer.”
Arts Council England’s South East area director Hedley Swain said: “IF: Milton Keynes Festival is a wonderful and eclectic mix of art forms that come together to create a highly impactful, inspiring and entertaining festival.
“The impact of the Festival goes beyond just entertainment; it provides a significant income for the local economy as it brings people to Milton Keynes to celebrate the arts and enjoy all that it has to offer.”
Confirmed Festival programme highlights so far include:
ILOTOPIE – FOUS DE BASSIN (WATER FOOLS)
July 18-19, Willen Lake
Water Fools is an unforgettable performance on a grand scale, created by French company Ilotopie who literally walk on water to conjure up an extraordinary and colourful floating spectacle with fire and pyrotechnics on Willen Lake.
An intriguing, dream-like world sees cars, bicycles and caravans drive over the surface of the water and a seemingly normal day take a particularly unusual turn as a small floating community unlike no other wakes up and tries to go about its daily business…
ROSEMARY LEE – UNDER THE VAULTED SKY
World Premiere: July 18-20, The Cathedral of Trees, Newlands
Award-winning choreographer Rosemary Lee has created Under The Vaulted Sky with live music by composer Terry Mann, inspired by Milton Keynes’ magical Cathedral of Trees in Newlands.
The performances in July 2014 will be the culmination of a year-long residency in Milton Keynes that will have seen Rosemary work with over a hundred dancers from the area who will feature in the performance.
The Cathedral of Trees was planted over 40 years ago on the exact architectural footprint of Norwich Cathedral with different species of trees and plants to represent the character of the Cathedral’s sections.
Under The Vaulted Sky has been commissioned by The Stables for IF: 2014 and is supported by Arts Council England through an Extraordinary Award and Milton Keynes Council. It is sponsored by the University of Bedfordshire, with additional support from The Parks Trust and South East Dance.
RAY LEE – CHORUS
July 21-23, Central Milton Keynes (locations tbc)
Sonic artist Ray Lee – British Composer of the Year for Sonic Art in 2012 – has created the evocative Chorus, a giant sound and light installation sponsored by the Open University.
Chorus is an impressive series of huge metal tripods with rotating arms which tower above the audience. At the end of each arm, loudspeakers emit a pulsating, harmonic sound and lights create the effect of a whirling swarm of fireflies or planets in motion.
These intersecting lights trace rings above the heads of the audience, while the combined chorus of the spinning speakers creates a cohesive harmonious whole that is transfixing and uplifting.
Forming the beating heart of the Festival, this elaborately decorated Spiegeltent is a regular feature and always a hit with festival-goers as home to the best in comedy, cabaret and live music.
This year the Spiegeltent also hosts Australian circus company Casus:
CASUS – KNEE DEEP
July 18-21, Spiegeltent
Casus perform exquisitely beautiful acrobatics and astonishing aerial feats in a breathtaking show of extraordinary skill, strength and beauty that tests the very limits of the human body.
Based in Australia and comprising four highly talented international performers, Casus is a circus company famed for walking on eggs (raw and in their shells) – and not cracking a single one! Presented ‘in the round’ within the Spiegeltent, the audience will be sitting up close to the jaw-dropping action.
July 25, Spiegeltent
Celebrating his new album ‘Word of mouth’, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Lakeman straddles folk traditions and the contemporary scene with songs that unearth hidden histories and unsung everyday heroes from his native Devon and Cornwall.
Lakeman’s hauntingly melodic style and stripped-back storytellings bring to life majestic landscapes, working lives, the tragedy of war and the price of revolution.
THE PUPPINI SISTERS
July 26, Spiegeltent
Take the Andrews Sisters with added glitz and glamour, add close harmonies with a swing-pop twist and you have the divinely fabulous Puppini Sisters – fresh from recording with Michael Bublé!
This year the Festival has created a festival focus for children and families. The full programme is to be announced though includes:
PUPPET STATE THEATRE COMPANY – THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES
July 23-24, Spiegeltent
This multi-sensory adaptation of Jean Giono’s environmental classic tale (for adults and children over 7 years old) tells the inspiring story of a shepherd who plants a forest, acorn by acorn, transforming a barren wasteland.
As much a touching tale as a hilarious puppet show, The Man Who Planted Trees shows us the difference one man (and his dog) can make to the world.
The Festival will also host an extensive acoustic music programme, a range of installations, free activities and surprising pop-up events across central Milton Keynes.