Dovedale matches arts with beauty

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The Dovedale Arts Festival has grown from strength to strength and in June 2012 its fourth festival will present a more exciting programme of national and international names than ever.

The new venue, the Izaak Walton Hotel, is perched above the most dramatic stretch of the River Dove at Ilam, with stunning views of hills and dales on every side.

As before, the weekend presents an eclectic mix of first-class musicians - both classical and jazz - with writers, artists, poets, and talks by local figures including the Duke of Devonshire and Matthew Parris.

Local soprano Lucy Crowe, a leading young singers, is taking a break from her summer at Glyndebourne to come back and give a programme of songs and lieder with the internationally renowned accompanist Roger Vignoles on Friday evening.

And on Saturday night the Festival repeats its hugely successful cabaret format with a scintillating concert of jazz, blues and improvisation by violinist Lizzie Ball and pianist James Pearson, director of music at Ronnie Scott’s, with their very own back-up trio.

Matthew Parris launches the weekend’s programme of talks in inimitable style with a discussion about the Great Lives he tangles with weekly on Radio 4: what is it that qualifies as a Great Life today?

Charles Saumarez Smith, who has run London’s Royal Academy for five years, takes us behind the scenes at that influential institution, and interviews art critic Martin Gayford about David Hockney, the subject of Martin’s latest book and the most successful RA exhibition to date. Continuing on the arts theme, the Duke of Devonshire will talk about the art and sculpture he collects and exhibits at Chatsworth, and why – and about his stewardship of that great and much-loved house.

Changing the tone, Sheffield author Marina Lewycka has followed her raft of best-selling novels with a delicious new comedy of manners, Various Pets Alive and Dead, and prize-winning author Robert Douglas-Fairhurst brings the young writer Charles Dickens vividly to life. Moving from comedy to tragedy, historian Anna Reid will discuss her devastating account of the Siege of Leningrad, the deadliest blockade in human history. And two of our premier poets, Jo Shapcott and David Harsent, read from their recent work.

“We will again be exhibiting the work of local artists, painter Lewis Noble and potter Bridget Whitehouse, among other works of art for sale, and we hope that the recipe of local and national names, lively talks and first-class music in a glorious location over a summer weekend will be as successful – or more successful – than ever,” said a spokesman.

It takes place at the Izaak Walton Hotel, Ilam from 8-10 June this year - see for details.