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Artists at the MIF 2019 programme launch

MIF 2019: Brexit Free Zone: From Manchester to Graceland

Once again Manchester International Festival is drawing upon talent from afar and worldwide, as well as closer to home.

“It’s booked and will appear for at least 10 days.” So now you know that the sun will shine in Manchester this July. Specifically, between 4-21 July, according to Christine Cort, one of the many people involved with delivering this year’s Manchester International Festival.

This biannual event is once again drawing upon talent from afar and worldwide, sometimes to meld with artistes of a more local leaning or just to put on what promises to be a dazzling sequence of events.

In keeping with a tenet that’s at the heart of MIF, a succession of performers has been invited to create new works that will premiere over the 18 days.

Yoko Ono will open proceedings with ‘Bells for Peace’ at Cathedral Gardens, then the floodgates of entertainment and intrigue commence.

Those, like me, who saw and heard Nico play at Band on the Wall back in the 1980s, will be aware that she spent a decade or so based in Manchester. Younger people may not realise that someone with whom the tag of ‘rock icon’ sits well lived in both Manchester and Salford. Maxine Peake, herself a person who has and continues to explore new boundaries in order to push herself forward, will portray this particular time in Nico’s life.

If anyone fancies a different sort of walk on the wild side, then there is an intriguing premise in the guise of Utopolis Manchester. Apparently, there will be a series of intelligent music speakers dotted around the city, serving as an invitation for interested parties to explore the area. Where will you end up? That may depend on what Rimini Protokoll has in mind for you.

Another performer who will step outside of their comfort zone is Skepta, the Mercury Music Prize winner. He will feature in DYSTOPIA987, details of which can be found at the web link below.

The great thing about this occasion is that there are oodles of free events in which the reputed 125,000 daily visitors can dip their toes. So whilst almost everyone else is barred from Albert Square as renovation works take place, the MIF team will descend with a revamped, refreshed and reinvigorated layout. Everyone is invited and Mary Anne Hobbs will be curating a majority of the musical entertainment.

The visual and aural taste buds will be alive with artistry. Paul Heathcote will be making sure that the culinary delights under his umbrella will sate the appetite.

“There is a place down lonely lane,” and I’ve been there. It’s in north Manchester and is also known as Smedley Lane. If you go down there, you will find a pub – now a hotel – called, yes, The Smedley. The road looks like it’s a dead-end or a place you can avoid the hunters from Hunted for a few weeks and go off-grid. Those places can be rich seams of humour. Claire Cunningham and her ensemble of performers would like to introduce to you the world of the Elvis tribute act. Is that one for the money? Save the aeroplane fare and drop into a suburb of Graceland.

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