Manchester International Festival 2015 opens this Thursday.

Gerhard Richter, Arvo Pärt, Björk, Ed Atkins, FKA twigs, Douglas Gordon, Hélène Grimaud, Charlotte Rampling, Nico Muhly, Paris Opera Ballet, Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson, Jamie xx, Maxine Peake, Antony, Justin Fletcher, Arca, Invisible Dot Ltd, Damon Albarn, Rufus Norris.

  
From Thursday 2nd July Manchester will be alive with music, dance, theatre and visual art as Manchester International Festival (2nd – 19th July) celebrates a decade as the world’s only Festival of original new work. The programme includes world premieres, unique concerts and one-off events, including a number of free events across the Festival.

The Festival opens with wonder.land, a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice In Wonderland, with music by Damon Albarn and book and lyrics by Moira Buffini. This co-production with the National Theatre will be directed by its Director Rufus Norris. To celebrate this new musical and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague will create High Tea in Wonderland, a magical food event behind the scenes at the Manchester Museum.

Choreographer Wayne McGregor is creating Tree of Codes for MIF 2015, a contemporary ballet inspired by the book Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer. Soloists and dancers from The Paris Opera Ballet alongside Company Wayne McGregor will form the company, performing in an environment created by visual artist Olafur Eliasson to a score composed by Mercury Prize-winning producer/composer Jamie xx.

  
FlexN Manchester sees Brooklyn-based Flex dance pioneer Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray and a specially assembled team of Flex dancers making their European debut as part of MIF15. This unique transatlantic collaboration will unite the best of street dance from Brooklyn and Manchester to create a final performance combining the Flex dancers and Manchester crews. 

 Richter / Pärt is a remarkable project, several years in the making, and both Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt will be in Manchester for the premiere. These two great artists have made work inspired by and dedicated to each other after being introduced by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Alex Poots in 2013. These works will be united for the first time at the recently re-opened the Whitworth art gallery. To accompany the show at the Whitworth the Manchester Camerata will perform an evening of Pärt’s music at the Bridgewater Hall conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy.
Also at the Bridgewater Hall, Mark Simpson, one of Britain’s brightest young composers, presents the world premiere of his first large scale commission, The Immortal, performed by the BBC Philharmonic. This new work for orchestra and choir explores the obsession with death that lies at the hard of the human experience, in a programme completed by Mozart’s Requiem.

Neck of the Woods sees Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and celebrated pianist Hélène Grimaud create a portrait of the wolf in a collision of visual art, music and theatre, with Charlotte Rampling as the raconteur.

FKA twigs will be making her MIF debut with a residency at Old Granada Studios, Soundtrack 7. FKA twigs and collaborators will make seven short films over the week, with audiences invited in to observe the process.

Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom return to MIF with The Skriker, a landmark revival of Caryl Churchill’s clash of ancient fairy story and portrait of a fractured England, featuring specially commissioned music by Nico Muhly and Antony.

Artist Ed Atkins is lifting the veil on the production of digital art with Performance Capture at Manchester Art Gallery; this installation will provide a unique and reflexive insight into the production of a computer-generated moving image work.

  
Four years on from her ground-breaking Biophilia residency, Björk returns to MIF for a spectacular one-off gig at Manchester’s Castlefield Arena, while 24-year old Venezuelan artist Arca (co-producer for Björk’s Vulnicura) makes his first MIF appearance. One of the most innovative and inspired musical voices of his generation, he will present a live show with his long-time collaborator, visual artist Jesse Kanda.

The Age of Starlight preview event offers an insight into this remarkable commission, now planned for MIF17. Members of the creative team, which includes Prof Brian Cox, director Kevin Macdonald, VFX designers Framestore, creative consultant Peter Saville and Magic Leap technologist Rony Abovitz will be in conversation at Old Granada Studios to discuss progress so far and the inspiring ideas behind the project.

CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher will bring The Tale of Mr Tumble to Manchester’s Opera House, with Ronni Ancona as Miss Eerie the Headmistress. This special new show will give children and families the chance to see Mr Tumble live and up close as he and his family share some of their fondest memories.

Interdependence is a two-day event of discussion, debate and inspiring thinking with some a chance to join some of the world’s leading artists, performers, scientists, writers and technologists in Manchester. The event takes place at a pivotal moment for Manchester, with a record amount of investment flowing into the city to support innovation across artistic and scientific endeavors. Participants will include Olafur Eliasson, Douglas Gordon, Veronica Gonzalez Pena, Benjamin Millepied, Peter Strickland, Arca & Jesse Kanda, Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov, Azu Nwagbogu and Jeremy Deller.

Industrious comedy innovators The Invisible Dot Ltd present a three-part programme of intrepid and original works in MIF’s own Pavilion Theatre. The Crocodile tells the story of Ivan and Zach’s afternoon at the zoo, which is disturbed when Ivan is eaten by a crocodile. Written by Tom Basden and directed by Ned Bennett, the production stars Simon Bird as Zach. Cult geek, award-winning radio host and tech guru Adam Buxton premiers his latest material and introduces his funniest friends. The Invisible Dot Cabaret present late night line-ups from their most celebrated jokers.

Acclaimed comedian and actress Sara Pascoe will perform her latest show The Museum of Robot Pussycats, an exploration of the stories that nobody wants to tell; the first drafts, the scribbled-outs and the haven’t-got-an-endings at the Pavilion Theatre at Festival Square.

2015 marks 10 years of both Manchester International Festival and The Warehouse Project. To celebrate this milestone, MIF and WHP have commissioned 10×10, two special nights of live music and DJs taking place at Mayfield Depot with Four Tet – Live joined by Tyondai Braxton and Koreless. The following night the legendary Carl Craig & Mike Banks lead proceedings with an array of talent including DJ Koze, Joy Orbison, Kyle Hall, Midland, Maurice Fulton, Jacques Greene, Mr. Ties, Space Dimension Controller with live sets from Octave One, Paranoid London and Dark Sky concluding the Festival.

Throughout MIF15, Manchester’s Albert Square becomes Festival Square, home to the Pavilion Theatre, Festival Pavilion, The Glass House and MIF Box Office. As well as hosting a programme of club nights and free DJs, innovative comedy, guided walks and exclusive talks, Festival Square offers a place to eat, drink, relax, socialize and soak up the MIF experience.

More Info: www.mif.co.uk 

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the founder and editor of FAD magazine, a curation of the world’s most interesting culture, and Creative Director of FAD Agency, a strategy & creative agency working with brands to solve business problems using cultural tools. www.fad.agency In 2008 following his passion for art he founded what has grown to become FAD magazine. FAD magazine is internationally recognized as a key figure within the emerging and contemporary art world, and has been selected as official partner by organizations as diverse as Moniker Art Fair, START, Volta and Christie’s. In addition Mark is a columnist for City Magazine.