By Janet Hall

THE Swaledale Festival begins tomorrow (Sat May 23)  – in Wensleydale.

The events take place over one of the largest areas in the UK for a festival, covering not only Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, but also Wensleydale.

Its opening morning event this year is the Trouvere Mediaeval Minstrels in Gayle Mill, near Hawes, and that evening outstanding violinist Magdalena Filipczak performs at her third Swaledale Festival in Askrigg, Wensleydale, with American pianist Adam Golka.

Lasting for two weeks with several events each day, the festival includes not only classical music but music of many other types from folk through bluegrass to improvisation, taking inspiration from many cultures.

There are also spoken word events such as poetry and the Reeth Lecture, given this year by Adam Hart-Davis, and a number of themed, guided walks.

With an emphasis this year on the human voice, one of the biggest events is a Big Sing Day in Richmond School led by composer, conductor and former King’s Singer Bob Chilcott. For this day, all participants need to bring is enthusiasm and a packed lunch. This event is being sponsored by Richmondshire Choral Society, which hopes that by coming to the Big Sing, people will be encouraged to join their own local choir.

One of the country’s finest solo voices also comes to the festival with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Tenor James Gilchrist joins an ensemble of eight players from the orchestra in a programme of music by English composers who wrote in a pastoral style. Gilchrist will sing Vaughan Williams’ well known On Wenlock Edge and Warlock’s The Curlew.

Other performers include the Skampa string quartet, regarded as one of the best in the world, who give two concerts in Bedale and Grinton, and double bass virtuoso Leon Bosch who performs in Askrigg. Local artists such as Northern Voices and Werca’s Folk, two local choirs giving a joint concert, and brass bands from Reeth, Leyburn and Muker also have their places in the programme.

Several events, including the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Black Dyke Band, the King’s Singers and Kathryn Tickell and the Side have already sold out, but there is still room at many other events, all chosen by artistic director Malcolm Creese, for the quality and virtuosity of their performers.

The festival organisers are also pleased with their new website this year and online ticketing has proved to be almost twice as popular as last year. However, the phone line is still available and tickets can be bought in person at the office in Reeth. Full details are at or ring 01748 880019.

Peter Denison-Edson, chairman of the Swaledale Festival Board, said: “Once again Malcolm Creese has assembled an outstanding array of artists and activities for the 2015 Swaledale Festival. We are also using a splendid variety of concert venues from the tiny Keld chapel at the head of Swaledale to the large, exciting new facilities at Tennants of Leyburn – and many fine churches, chapels and halls throughout the Northern Dales.”