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Oxford Festival of the Arts goes digital

From June 18 - July 5

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Tash Noel

Due to the pandemic, this year’s Field of Cloth of Gold-inspired event is postponed and the planned performances will move to 2021. However the inspiration remains and there is a Tudor/gold flavour to #OFAvirtual, the free digital festival that will run from June 18th – July 5th, even the OFA logo has gone gold!

Festival Director Dr Michelle Castelletti has curated an 18-day programme featuring tasters of events that will take place next year and specially created performances.

Highlights include:

· Celebrated tenor Joseph Calleja who will be recording himself singing an aria exclusively for the festival, together with a selection of other beautiful arias he has performed

· University of Oxford cultural historian, broadcaster and author Dr Janina Ramirez who will be talking about goddesses, the subject of her latest book

· Award-winning vocal ensemble ORA Singers perform works by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis paired with new reflections; to complement this there is Talking Tallis a conference-taster (full conference in 2021) featuring talks and insights into Tallis’ work and exclusive preview excerpts of Sir James MacMillan’s new work for 40 voices, Vidi Aquam a reflection on Tallis’ Spem in alium.

· Oxford East MP and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds in conversation with BBC Political Correspondent Rob Watson

· Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor of history at the University of Roehampton presenting ‘Women, Sex and Power in the Sixteenth Century’

· An exciting collaboration between OFA, TORCH, Brasenose and Creation Theatre who perform an hour long version of Shakespeare’s rarely programmed Henry VIII

· Acclaimed cellist Gabriella Swallow will perform a tribute to Jacqueline du Pré in the year that marks the 75th anniversary of her birth. Gabi will combine Bach’s Suite for unaccompanied violoncello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 with modern pieces including two world premieres.

The festival also includes dance, jazz, calligraphy and illumination, workshops for young musicians, Tudor cookery and the chance for children to design their own coat of arms!

Dr Michelle Castelletti said “To say I am thrilled is an understatement. This is where the beautiful thing called camaraderie comes into its own. I believe in relationships, partnership and creating marvellous things together; and I implicitly trust what has been my loyal friend, ally, refuge and companion throughout my life, the Arts. I cannot thank my friends and colleagues enough. We have had endless hours of sparkling conversation to find ways to be with you, our terrific audiences, in this new reality we are living in. I hope #OFAvirtual will bring you joy, excitement, fascination, insight, “welling up” and fun. It was certainly an extraordinary ride to create this! I could not be prouder than to open the festival with my wonderful friend and compatriot with the molten gold voice, Joseph Calleja!”

All the events are free and details are on the festival website www.artsfestivaloxford.org

Magdalen College School, Oxford is the founder and lead sponsor of Oxford Festival of the Arts, and has supported the festival since its launch in 2008.

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