The Lichfield Festival has announced the first performers for its 2012 programme.

Sir Mark Elder. Pic: Simon Dodd

Sir Mark Elder will conduct the Hallé in an all-English programme to open this year’s festival, which runs from July 4 to 15.

The renowned orchestra and its hugely respected resident conductor will be playing to their strengths with a programme centring on Sir Edward Elgar’s Symphony No.2 with mezzo soprano Alice Coote the soloist in Elgar’s Sea Pictures in Lichfield Cathedral on July 5.

A few days later the tenor Ian Bostridge will give a Schumann recital in the same atmospheric setting.

Birmingham Bach Choir and the London Baroque Players under the direction of former Lichfield Festival artistic director Paul Spicer will perform Bach’s Mass In B Minor on the first Saturday of the Festival. Soloists will include bass Peter Harvey.

A very different sound will fill Lichfield Cathedral on July 11 as the contemporary folk band Bellowhead take to the main stage. The 12-piece band is nominated for the Best Group and Best Live Act BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Visiting artists coming the furthest will be the Orchestra Of The Music Makers. The group boasts 100 fine amateur musicians and has become the premier orchestra in Singapore where they play year-round in the state-of-the-art Esplanade Concert Hall. They will be playing a family concert including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Their director is Chan Tze Law.

The beloved children’s author Michael Rosen and the film critic Mark Kermode will be the subjects of this year’s Festival Big Reads with hundreds of his books distributed around the City free for readers young and old, and a chance to meet the authors during the Festival.

Other 2012 Lichfield Festival highlights include:

  • Reduced Shakespeare Company performing The World Of Sport, in honour of the Olympics.
  • Full Aspire education programme including an evening of celebratory anthems composed by schools with assistance from composer Kate Pearson.
  • A new work by composer Jonathan Dove, sung by the Lichfield Festival Chorus.
  • Young Artist Series, featuring rising classical music stars from around the country, including cellist Philip Higham.

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