Bit MIF-ed? Manchester International Festival’s stellar line-up will make you smile

Damon Albarn, FKA twigs and Björk were amongst those to be announced in a stellar line-up for the 2015 Manchester International Festival yesterday.

The biennial festival – which describes itself as ‘the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events’ – will run for 18 days and feature music, art, dance and comedy at locations across Manchester and Salford.

Alex Poots, the festival’s director since its inception, will stand down after this year’s edition, with MM reporting last month how his role has been advertised on Guardian Jobs.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Poots described the festival as being dedicated to ‘new works by leading artists and innovators of our time, drawn from across the broadest range of human creativity.’

Albarn – of Blur and Gorillaz fame – is returning for the fifth-edition of the festival  after debuting his opera Dr Lee here in 2011.

He has also provided the music to wonder.land, a new musical interpretation of the Lewis Carroll classic novel Alice in Wonderland.

Brit award-nominated singer FKA twigs will be creating seven short films in front of a live audience during a seven day residency at Old Granada Studios, whilst Bjork will be contributing a one-off gig at Castlefield Arena.

Elsewhere at the festival, Professor Brian Cox will feature in a preview of an ambitious project entitled The Age of Starlight, described by MIF on their website as the most ‘technologically advanced and high-risk commission’ in the festival’s history.

However presentation of the full version of the show has been postponed until 2016 due to a delay in the development of the technology.

Jamie xx, from the indie-band The xx, is collaborating with director and choreographer Wayne McGregor in creating Tree of Codes, a contemporary ballet.

Gerhard Richter, an 83 year-old German artist described by the BBC as ‘one of the world’s most celebrated living artists’, has created an exhibition of art and music with Estonian composer Arvo Pärt to be displayed at the Whitworth Gallery.

Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and Broadchurch actress Charlotte Rampling are working together on Neck of the Woods, a stage piece aiming to portray the lives of wolves.

And Maxine Peak will be starring in a supernatural stage-play, The Shriker.

Brooklyn-based dance pioneer Reggie ‘Roc’ Gray is bringing his FlexN dance group to the festival, and he will be inviting local, ‘like-minded’ dancers to audition to appear alongside his troupe in their first European performance.

CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher will be appearing as the eponymous protagonist in The Tale of Mr Tumble at the Manchester Opera House, whilst James Acaster and Adam Buxton are amongst the stand-ups presented by The Invisible Dot Cabaret.

The Manchester International Festival will run from Thursday 2 to Sunday 19 July, and will feature numerous free events and discounts for Manchester residents on low incomes.

 For information on ticket prices and specific event dates, click here.

Image courtesy of Manchester International Festival, via YouTube, with thanks.

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