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Jess ensemble preview

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West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival 2023 launches with a stellar line-up of artists and a programme that promises to take audiences on an exciting musical voyage from Bach to Bowie and beyond.

Jess ensemble preview

Trail-blazing saxophonist Jess Gillam, virtuoso violinist Patrick Rafter, the dynamic Navarra Quartet and the critically acclaimed vocal ensemble Apollo5 are amongst the Irish and international artists joining Wicklow pianist and artistic director Fiachra Garvey this May.

The West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival has launched its summer 2023 edition, running from Wednesday 17th to Sunday 21st May 2023 at Russborough House and at St. Mary’s Church, Blessington.

Award-winning Irish violinist Patrick Rafter opens the festival on Wednesday 17th May (8pm, Russborough House) performing with Wicklow pianist and the Festival’s artistic director Fiachra Garvey. A brand new commission from Conor Linehan, written especially for this superb duo, forms the centrepiece of a lyrical programme that beautifully fuses styles, genres and cultures, from French café to American jazz and even Irish traditional music.

Trailblazing superstar saxophonist Jess Gillam makes her Irish debut on Thursday 18th May (8pm, Russborough House) with a fabulously eclectic programme that will take audiences on a journey of musical discovery from Bach to Bowie! Jess Gillam has been forging her own adventurous path since she shot to fame becoming the first saxophonist to reach the finals of BBC Young Musician and the youngest ever soloist to perform at the Last Night of the Proms. Jess will be joined by double bassist Sam Becker and pianist Leif Kaner-Lidström for a programme that brilliantly blends music from the 18th century right up to the present day.

The London-based Navarra Quartet has built an international reputation as one of the most dynamic and poetic string quartets of today, with regular appearances at major venues filling up their diary. On Friday 19th May (8pm, Russborough House) the quartet will present a beautiful programme that includes a Mozart quartet and a world premiere by Irish composer Jane O’Leary, and culminates in a performance of Brahms’ brooding Piano Quintet with pianist Fiachra Garvey.

Saturday 20th May features a very special outdoor (but covered!) performance from the acclaimed Jess Gillam Ensemble (8pm, Hippodrome, Russborough). Jess performs music from her classical chart-topping album TIME with an 8-piece ensemble made up of an incredible group of musicians from a wide range of musical backgrounds. Their concert is designed to showcase the diversity, dynamism and versatility of the saxophone, and to inspire audiences to reflect, dance and smile!

Critically acclaimed a cappella five-piece Apollo5 is one of Britain’s smallest but most formidable vocal groups. An energetic exploration of the joy and despair of human love, their performance on Sunday 21st May (3.30pm, St. Mary’s Church, Blessington) will include choral music spanning 500 years, from some of the earliest known polyphonic writing through to pop favourites like ‘Your Song’, ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ and ‘Only You’.

Tickets (€19-38 +bkg fee) for the West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival’s five evening concerts are now on sale from More details of the Festival’s exciting daytime and family programme will be released in February.

The West Wicklow Festival is funded by the Arts Council and supported by Wicklow Arts Office, the Apollo Foundation and RTÉ Supporting the Arts.

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