Back in 1948, as a nation struggled to overcome the ravages of war, some of Britain’s more visionary towns and cities had the same idea: to launch an annual festival of the arts. Swansea was one of them. From Edinburgh to Aldeburgh, Cheltenham to Swansea, the ambition was the same – to bring people together, fuel pride and passion, and celebrate community.
Fast forward to 2018 and it’s a reflection on our brilliant, creative city that, from 22 September to 7 October, the Swansea International Festival will celebrate its 70th anniversary year. From music and theatre, to comedy and competition – across the city, there’ll be a host of events with something special for everyone, as the Festival brings the best of the world to Swansea and shares the best of Swansea with the world.
Reflecting on the festival’s beginnings in the years after the Second World War, as well as the centenary of the end of World War I, it’s perhaps no surprise that reflections on conflict and peace play an important part in this year’s festival.
Perhaps the highest profile of these will be Marc Rees’ epic drama Now the Hero / Nawr yr Arwr, which for five nights will use the city as a theatre, with soldiers appearing on the beach, and the stunning Guildhall, with its majestic panels by Frank Brangwyn (the inspiration for Marc’s work), becoming the backdrop to some of the most breathtaking theatre the city will ever have seen.
Also at the Brangwyn Hall on 6 October, Sir Karl Jenkins – who grew up in Penclawdd and is now the world’s most performed living composer – will conduct a gala concert of his own music. Alongside his Mass of Peace, The Armed Man, will be the world premiere of a brand new piece – Lament for Syria. Commissioned for this year’s festival, Sir Karl’s music is based on a poem by 13-year-old Betjeman Poetry Prize winner Amineh Abou Keresh, a refugee from Syria. Rather fittingly, Swansea will welcome Amineh and her family as special guests at the concert, celebrating Swansea’s status as a City of Sanctuary together.
Other highlights include Elin Manahan Thomas – fresh from performing for a worldwide audience of millions at this year’s royal wedding – and Jocelyn Freeman at the National Waterfront Museum on October 2, and a day long celebration of Dylan Thomas’ lifelong friend, composer and fellow Kardomah Boy, Daniel Jones. And if comedy is more your thing, you can join Rob Brydon at the Grand Theatre on either Wednesday October 3 or Thursday October 4 for I Am Standing Up, Rob’s first stand up tour since 2009.
So what are you waiting for – book your tickets now before they sell out!
For full ticket and event details, check out the official Swansea International Festival website: www.swanseafestival.org
Tickets available via the Swansea Grand Theatre Box Office (online and 01792 475715).