Bath Voice What’s On: News from the Bath Festival starting on Friday 12th May

Press Release From The Bath Festival


Friday 12 May – Saturday 21 May 2023

The Bath Festival 2023 focuses on the theme Opening Up for its internationally renowned
annual celebration of music and books in May. The festival will hold over 130 events in more
than 50 of Bath’s distinctive buildings and spaces.
With a carefully curated programme of talks, workshops, performances and walks the
festival encourages opening up to new ideas, conversations and experiences. The line-up
includes internationally acclaimed novelist, Tan Twan Eng, broadcaster Jon Snow, actor
Paterson Joseph, The Great British Sewing Bee’s Esme Young, Costa First Novel award-
winner Caleb Azumah Nelson, resident orchestra Bath Festival Orchestra, multi-award-
winning Bath-based author  Max Porter, violinist Esther Yoo, author of The Salt Path Raynor
Winn, Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, author of breakout hit Honey & Spice Bolu
Babalola, menopause expert Dr Louise Newson, and brass quintet Connaught Brass. Bath
will also welcome journalist Jeremy Bowen, designer Kaffe Fassett, author and journalist
Gary Younge, author Joanne Harris and comedians Cariad Lloyd and Fern Brady.
The vibrant music programme focuses on bringing a flavour of today’s exceptional talent.
Alongside a series of rising classical music stars, you can also experience the individuality,
personality and creative free spirit of Bath Festival Orchestra, in residency during the
opening weekend. The orchestra provides a platform for energetic players coming out of
music colleges celebrating the unique voice that young talent plays in developing the
performing arts.  
The festival will be joined by two guest curators. Acclaimed writer Cathy Rentzenbrink
explores the big subjects: life, death, love and literature in her strand How To Feel Better,

which includes interviews with Kit de Waal, Cariad Lloyd and Katherine May, as well as
evenings exploring the comfort and joy of books, words and song. Dr Rachel Clarke, writer
and NHS palliative care doctor, will be discussing courage, creativity, love and human
connection in difficult times. Her strand, Hope in the Dark, includes events with broadcaster
Jon Snow, Polly Morland, Henry Marsh and Charlotte Higgins.
May is the perfect time for us all to be venturing out, exploring the city and connecting with
others. Bath will be overflowing with people sharing their stories, experiences and wisdom.
Join in with the Poetry Open Mic, get your hands on the hottest reads pre-publication at one
of the exclusive Proof Parties, dive deep into politics, art, history, nature and science or be
transported into new worlds with visiting fiction writers. The festival will include guided
walks, events in historic buildings including Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, gatherings in
intimate settings such as Walcot House and Persephone Books. The festival hub this year
takes over the Guildhall and will include Mr B’s Emporium pop-up bookshop and a café and
This year is Bath Festivals’ 75 th anniversary as an arts charity and 2023 will see it celebrating
both its history and the excitement for the future. Alongside many, the organisation faces
financial challenges, but remains dedicated to the importance of everyone being able to
enjoy the arts, no matter their financial circumstances. In addition to the free opening night,
Party in the City, on Friday 12 May, the festival is offering a new flexible pricing model to
pick the price that suits people’s circumstances.
The Bath Festival 2023 will run from Friday 12 May to Sunday 21 May 2023. Tickets go on
general release on Friday 17 March, with priority booking for patrons and benefactors
beginning from Monday 13 March. Benefactors, gold and silver members can buy tickets
from Tuesday 14 March and bronze members from Wednesday 15 March.
 Festival highlights for 2023:
 Broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes will be in conversation about her acclaimed
novel about Medusa, Stone Blind, at the Roman Baths, a very fitting backdrop for her
 London’s award-winning literary salon comes to Bath for the first time. Inspired by
the gay slang of the same name, Polari is a celebration of LGBTQ+ words and voices –
whether written, spoken or sung. Featuring Polari Salon founder, Paul Burston, TS
Eliot winner poet Joelle Taylor and cabaret legend Miss Hope Springs.
 The headline event of Bath Festival Orchestra will be hosted by BBC Radio 3
presenter Sarah Mohr-Peitch in Bath Abbey. The programme will include Marianna
Martinez Opening from Dixit Dominus, Bruckner Locus Iste, Hans Andre Stamm
Fanfare for Organ and Two Trumpets and Mozart Divertimento K. 136. The orchestra
will be joined by renowned local choir Bath Camerata for a performance of Mozart’s
perfectly incomplete Requiem.
 The Bath Festival’s collection of themed events for 2023 includes: Sharing Stories,
Creative Writing, Mind and Body, Your Next Read, Art of Expression, Rising Classical
Music Stars, Poetry and Performance, The Great Outdoors, Perfect Pairings, Curious
Minds and the popular series of lunchtime lectures.

 The British vocal ensemble Siglo de Oro will be celebrating the work of English
composer and organiser William Byrd, who died in 1623.
 As always, there’s a strong fiction strand running through the festival. We’ll be
welcoming Bolu Babalola, Liv Little, Caleb Azumah Nelson and Tan Twan Eng. A
collection of events will shine a spotlight on literary prizes, publishing houses and
organisations:  the Jhalak Prize, English Pen and Verso, Virago at 50, the Rathbones
Folio Prize.
 Consummate storyteller Joanne Harris’s latest novel, Broken Light, sees protagonist
49-year-old Bernie’s life change when a woman is murdered in a local park. In
conversation with the Guardian journalist and editor, Claire Armitstead, Joanne
discusses women’s anger and power in middle age, and what led her to write a book
that pays homage to Stephen King’s character Carrie.
 NHS palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke (author of Breathtaking) arrived in Kyiv
alongside neurosurgeon Henry Marsh and Guardian culture writer Charlotte Higgins,
just as the deadly missile bombardment began. They had been in Ukraine teaching
end-of-life care to doctors and medical students, and taking part in a Ukrainian book
festival held in defiance of Russia’s invasion. In Hope in the Dark, they will talk about
that experience and reflect on courage, culture, loss and hope in the midst of war –
and the importance of human connection.
 Novelist Max Porter (Grief is The Thing With Feathers) will host a unique evening
inspired by his new novel SHY, a journey into the mind of a troubled teenager in
1995 who wanders into the night with the voices in his head and realises he isn’t
alone. This evening starts with a reading from  SHY performed by the author, with a
live electronic score by Roly Porter. After the interval, writer and performer Vanessa
Kisuule talks to Max before ending with a Back to 95 drum ’n’ bass and jungle set by
local DJ Nicho. 
 Festival audiences will be able to hear from world class writers and thinkers who also
have very personal, human tales to share. Join us live with a line-up that includes
comedian Cariad Lloyd, journalist Jon Snow, menopause expert Dr Louise Newson,
designer Kaffe Fassett, former political party leader Vince Cable, comedian Fern
Brady, international journalist Jeremy Bowen and arts editor Will Gompertz.
Festival favourites
  Party in the City. Bath’s biggest FREE night out sees dozens of bands, choirs and solo
performers playing live music for free in all kinds of city centre venues, from parks to
churches, from museums to pubs, for the pleasure of thousands of partygoers. This
year’s Party in the City is on Friday 12 May. This evening of free music attracts
thousands of visitors who enjoy everything from choirs singing in churches, to punk
rock in pubs and the stars of the local music scene playing on stages in local parks.
More details will unfold in the run-up to Party in the City, a fitting all-inclusive launch
party for all, to kick off The Bath Festival 2023.
 The Concert for the People of Bath with Bath Philharmonia and featuring the massed
voices of the festival young people’s choir, Schools Voices. The Schools Voices choir
was launched last year. It’s a unique collaboration between young people from a
dozen local secondary schools who work with musicians from Bath Philharmonia

Orchestra to write and perform their own compositions. Anyone who was in the
packed Forum last May will testify that this produces an electrifying and moving
performance with more than 100 young voices lifted in harmony.
 A series of guided, themed site-specific walks created for The Bath Festival – a strand
of the festival which regularly sells out. The 2023 programme of walks curated for
the festival include Bath: A Right Royal City, a walk through literary Bath and a guide
to the 1942 Bath Blitz. There will also be a walk and talk with historian Dr Amy Frost
of the Bath Preservation Trust looking at the life and legacy of William Beckford.
 The Rising Stars of classical music. For those ‘you heard them here first’ moments.
There will be concerts by Iyad Sughayer, piano, Jaren Ziegler, viola, Tim Beattie
guitar, Irene Duval and Maciej Kulakowski violin and cello, Ryan Corbett and Dida
Condria. accordion and piano
 Some events proved so popular that they make a welcome return this May.  The
Litwitchure conversation, complete with Tarot card reading, will see Sunday Times
bestselling author Juno Dawson in conversation. The Around The World in 10 Books
is a perennially popular event. And proof parties, introduced last year, will be back,
giving readers a sneak preview of titles yet to be published.
 Something for the curious mind. As ever, festival programmers are mindful that our
audiences have interests that encompass many subjects, from the deeply serious to
the delightfully ephemeral. So this year we have events which will focus on: pop
culture, English country houses, James Bond, I Capture The Castle, Shakespeare and
50 years of feminist press, Virago.
 A welcome from Bath Festival programmers and curators
Kate Abbey, head of programming: “I’m thrilled that local award-winning author Max Porter
brings his latest book SHY alive with an exclusive dramatic reading and live electronic score.
We celebrate the magic that is literary cabaret sensation Polari Salon, with founder Paul
Burston who has curated an evening celebrating LGBTQ+ words and voices with Joelle Taylor
and Miss Hope Springs. And in a pinch-me moment I’m already looking forward to seeing
‘rock star mythologist’ Natalie Haynes bring her irresistible take on Medusa in a one-night
only appearance at the iconic Roman Baths.”
James Waters, classical music programmer: “This is a golden time for brilliant young classical
musicians and I am delighted to be able to offer a showcase at one of the UK’s leading
festivals. From BBC New Generation Artists to Young Musician finalists and from piano to
cello via accordion, guitar and violin we have a remarkable line-up of soloists.  Add to the
brilliant young ensembles in Connaught Brass, Quatuor Agate string quartet and Siglo de
Oro and we have a wonderfully varied programme which affirms that the future for classical
music is very bright indeed. Two orchestras light up the festival. The Bath Festival Orchestra
offers a multi-faceted residency including a performance of Mozart’s timeless Requiem, and
the Bath Philharmonia performs the Concert for the People of Bath  – a viscerally exciting
programme around the idea of flight including the brilliant violinist Esther Yoo and new
compositions by Bath Schools Voices.”
Festival partner Bath Spa University is holding its annual SparkFest for its creative students
to put on a month-long programme of innovative performances across theatre, music and

dance. 8 May – 10 June 2023. More information at 
The Bath Festival is supported by sponsors, including Bath Spa University, Bath BID, Bath
Recreation, University of Bath, Wessex Water, Mayden, Kingswood School, Rathbones Folio
Prize, Royal High School. Bath Festivals would like to thank its patrons and members and its
invaluable army of volunteers, without whom the festival would not happen. The festival
official bookseller is the independent Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights and our partners
are: Bath Box Office, Bath Life, Total Guide to Bath, Scala Radio, Visit Bath, Minuteman
Press, GWR Komedia, Bath Forum and Francis Hotel.
 For full programme details visit: