Arts Festival line-up out now

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THE Southland Festival of the Arts programme has been announced, with brochures popping up at a variety of outlets throughout the region during the next few weeks.

Theatre, comedy, music, dance, visual arts, storytelling and more will be on offer during the month-long festival which begins on April 20.

Venture Southland creative projects manager and festival director Angela Newell said the shows were all once again of an exceptional quality.

‘‘Every year there has been an increase in the number of shows that people choose to go to, therefore it’s… imperative for people to get their tickets early to avoid disappointment.’’

She said she was also pleased so many towns in Southland would get to experience the festival including Otautau, Steward Island, Riverton, Lumsden and Te Anau.

‘‘We’ve tried to really push the outreach programme.’’

One of the new initiatives of this year’s festival is Kate’s Mates’ Rates. Four concerts will cost a ‘‘Kate Sheppard’’ — a suggested $10 donation.

Newell said it was a chance for people to bring along the whole family and pay what they could afford.

‘‘And it’s maybe a chance to come and see different genres like jazz or choral work. It’s not a large investment [to give] something a go.’’

Included in Kate’s Mates’ Rates is the festival’s final performance of the oratorio Gallipoli To The Somme, which will be presented by Rebecca Ryan Concerts.

Venture Southland creative projects manager and festival director Angela Newell (left) and opera singer/concert organiser Rebecca Ryan look over this year’s Southland Festival of the Arts programme. Photo: Amy Johnstone

The work has been written by Dunedin-based composer Anthony Ritchie and premiered at the Dunedin Arts Festival last year.

It is predominantly based on the memoirs of the same name by soldier and mathematics professor Alexander Aitken, and commemorates the events and times of World War 1.

Southland-based international opera singer Rebecca Ryan will perform solos with rising New Zealand bass baritone Joel Amosa.

Ryan said she decided to stage the work in Invercargill on the strength of seeing the premiere in Dunedin.

‘‘It’s quite powerful.’’

She said it encompassed several aspects of the war, including the perspective of a German soldier, Maori chants and a song for nurses and the other people involved in the conflict.

A Capella Singers and local secondary school choirs will also accompany the work, along with the Invercargill Symphonia which will be led by Wayne Perniskie.

Newell said it would be a fitting end to the festival, and she was also gauging interest in holding a workshop with Amosa for people involved in singing. Í Keep an eye out in the Southland Express for more stories, giveaways and information about the festival, or go to the Southland Festival of the Arts Facebook page.

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