The Music of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival

26 April 2023

The Music of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival

This year’s Norfolk & Norwich Festival is bound to be as spectacular as ever, with over a hundred acts on throughout the city and county from Friday, May 12 – Sunday, May 28, transforming our spaces into something special. James Hardie, Music Programmer for the Festival, takes us through some of the incredible musical acts on in this year’s programme.

It’s almost May which means only one thing: Norfolk & Norwich Festival returns! As usual, we’ll take over the city and appear around the county with an ambitious and exciting programme of dazzling performance and thought-provoking spectacle. I organise the music at the Festival, and I’m so excited to share this year’s offering, which is more adventurous and international than ever, as we bring you the very best practitioners of jazz, hip-hop, classical, cabaret and electronic music from across the UK and further afield.

If listening to spine-tingling music-making with a beer in hand sounds like your ideal Friday night, then you don’t want to miss Mirrors, in the company of 12 Ensemble (strings) & GBSR Duo (piano and percussion) on 19 May (St Andrew’s Hall). These two virtuoso ensembles will join forces for an exploration of incredibly atmospheric music. The first half will comprise music by Mica Levi from Under the Skin (the film in which Scarlett Johansson plays an alien in human form), a trippy piece called Flowing Down Too Slow by Italian composer Fausto Romitelli, and a brand new work by Laurence Osborn called TOMB!. The second part of the concert will transport you to a higher place, with a performance of Brian Eno’s Ambient 2, but as you’ve never heard it before – performed live by strings, percussion and synthesisers. This will be a totally unique listening experience offering sounds that promise to stay with you in your daydreams (and nightmares…). Check out a sneak peek of the ‘Under the Skin’ soundtrack here!

Later that night – something completely different! Nihiloxica combine Ugandan drumming and techno music with one aim in mind: to make you move. Music magazine The Quietus said “Nihiloxica are the best band on Earth right now”, and we’re not going to argue with that. Coming to Norwich for the very first time, they’re sure to set the Spiegeltent alight with their infectious, relentless rhythms. Come along to experience the full force of this ancient tradition (and bring a water bottle). Check out Nihiloxica’s song ‘Black Kaveera’ here!

Be sure to see Nihiloxica at this year’s Festival!

Alfa Mist comes to Norwich on Saturday 20 May. He’s just released his new album, Variables, and—lucky us in Norwich—we’ll get the first live performance of it in the UK! The reviews are in, and the Guardian called it “unwavering in its brilliance…It all hits just the right note between accessible and experimental: idiosyncratic and intricate yet straightforwardly enjoyable.” Moving from keyboards to drums to rapping, Alfa Mist is the consummate musical multi-tasker, and we’re looking forward to his set in St Andrew’s Hall.

Ever been to an accordion recital? Well, now you have two chances! Ryan Corbett, a virtuoso accordionist from Scotland will perform in Sheringham (Tuesday 23 May, Little Theatre) and Norwich (Wednesday 24 May, Octagon Chapel), showing the expansive range of the instrument, from delicate Bach to sultry Spanish Albeniz and stormy 18th-century French music by Rameau. Ryan is the first ever accordionist to be a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, a scheme that handpicks the very best classical musicians from all over the world as they shoot for stardom. As part of this partnership, we’ll also present Mercury Prize-nominated Fergus McCreadie, violinist Geneva Lewis, and the Leonkoro Quartet. Don’t miss your chance to see these future superstars!

Do you sometimes feel voiceless in the face of the relentless injustices of the world? If so, The People’s Cabaret is for you – a show all about protest. We’ve been working over the last three years with artists Jess Walker and Luke Styles to create a new cabaret show that’s all about sticking it to The Man, just as Bertold Brecht, Kurt Weill and Hans Eisler did in 1920s Berlin. Drawing on the issues that matter to people in Norfolk today – from second homes for the wealthy to coastal erosion and ailing public services – they’ve created a fierce and fun new show with songs that will send you marching off into the night.

Get ready to feel empowered with People’s Cabaret!

And of course there’s much more besides: Orchestras at the Halls, Bands at the Spiegeltent, String Quartets at the Octagon Chapel, Choirs in the Cathedral. There is lots to choose from but tickets are selling fast, so don’t hang about! We can’t wait to share the Festival with you this May.

Norfolk & Norwich Festival runs 12-28 May.

Psst… you’re travelling to Norwich or anywhere in Norfolk for the Festival and looking for somewhere to stay, we can help! Check out the top places to stay throughout both the city and county on our website here.