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International Festival of Music
The Belcea Quartet
Last updated: 02 July 2004 1247 BST
lineWhether it's serious classical pieces, or a bit of busking that you're into, music lovers are in for treat in Cheltenham over the next couple of weeks.
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Cheltenham Festivals
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Contact Cheltenham Town Hall Box Office on 01242 227979.

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2004 is the 60th year of The Cheltenham International Festival of Music.

Live performances

Patricia Rozario

Once again, this year, music fans can expect the best in live performances, ranging from orchestral works and opera, to Hungarian folk music and even an accordian recital.

Names to grace the Cheltenham stage willinclude mezzo Alice Coote, tenor Philip Langridge, pianists András Schiff, Melvyn Tan and Imogen Cooper, and the Skampa and Takács Quartets.

Symphony Orchestras

Or you may prefer the City of Birmingham and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, Westminster Cathedral Choir, the Hilliard Ensemble, Trio Mediaeval, the Henri Oguike Dance Company and Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble.

The Belcea Quartet is also in residence for a series of exclusive performances and collaborations.

Cut-rate price

And if you think it all sounds a bit poncy and high-brow, this year you can sample what's on offer at a cut-rate price.

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Organisers have programmed twenty-six concerts over the sixteen-day festival at the low entrance price of five pounds.

So for all those who have previously hovered on the edge of classical music, now could be your opportunity to dip your toe right in.

Fringe Festival

Running hand-in-hand with the Music Festival will be The Cheltenham Fringe Festival with assorted entertainment to suit all.

The emphasis is on variety, accessibility and affordability.

Highlights include Thea Gilmore, Jim Diamond & Snake Davis, A Night of Stand-out Stand-up, and The Hot Club Of Cowtown.

Busking Fiesta

As part of the Fringe event there will be a Busking Fiesta held on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th July.

You'll be able to spot the talents at the heats in the Regent Arcade and Beechwood Shopping Centre on Saturday, then cheer on the finalists in the Imperial Gardens on Sunday.

World premiere

The Music Festival also includes the world premiere of John Taverner's, much anticipated, new candelit meditational piece 'Schuon Lieder', a performance by one of Britain's leading string quartets - The Arditti Quartet, and a concert with the acclaimed soprano and new Young Welsh Singer of the Year Camilla Roberts.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Cheltenham also celebrates the 130th anniversary of the birth of it own son, Gustav Holst, this year, and Festival organisers will use the opportunity to hear some of his less familiar works as well as famous pieces like The Planets.

Elgar’s Enigma Variations

This is complemented by other English orchestral masterpieces like Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia.

There'll also be a brand new opera based on the Odysseus myth by the British composer Edward Rushton, which is among 60 first performances, one for each year of the Festival’s history.

Opera also features on each Festival weekend, with three masterworks by England’s leading composer in the field, Benjamin Britten.

Broadcast live

And if you can't make it to Cheltenham 18 concerts will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, including performances from the London Sinfonietta and the Arditti Quartet.

Cheltenham International Festivals of Music and Fringe

Various locations in Cheltenham

Date July 2 - July 18 2004

Contact Cheltenham Town Hall Box Office on 01242 227979 or visit the Cheltenham Festivals website.

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