Ards International Guitar Festival 2020 Programme Announced

Ards International Guitar Festival 2020 Programme Announced

Ards and North Down Borough Council is pleased to launch the 2020 Ards International Guitar Festival programme. The Festival will take place from 1 – 5 April at various venues around Newtownards. Now in its 23rd year, the Festival is a celebration of the world’s most popular instrument, bringing together some of the best guitarists from around Ireland, the UK and the world, with artists crossing a range of genres, showcasing their musical skills, talent and creativity.

This year’s jam-packed line-up features over 40 musicians including home-grown talent as well as performers from the USA, Germany and The Netherlands all brought together with the help of guest programmer Anthony Toner. The popular Guitar Clinics are also back, giving amateur guitarists the opportunity to hone their skills with the help of professionals, as well as a stunning photography exhibition by Stuart Bailie.

One of the highlights of this year’s programme is The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet who will open the Festival on Wednesday 1 April at The Queen’s Hall. As one of the world’s leading guitar quartets, The AGQ is known for its extraordinary performances and expansive repertoire. Formed at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1999, the quartet studied with renowned guitarists Sérgio Assad, Oscar Ghiglia and Scott Tennant and has performed in major concert halls throughout the UK and Europe. The foursome will be supported by The Diony’s Ensemble and The Classical Guitar Society of Northern Ireland.

Blues maestro Ronnie Greer returns to the Festival on the crest of a wave for what looks like being one of the high points of the programme. Ronnie will be launching his brand-new album with his new band All-Star Blues Revue. With contributions from an all-star glittering line-up including; long-time musical partner Anthony Toner on guitars, Nick Scott on bass and Peter McKinney on drums – joined by guitarists/vocalists Ken Haddock and Grainne Duffy, Kyron Bourke on keyboards and vocals, and blues and jazz luminaries Linley Hamilton on trumpet and Dave Howell on sax. An evening not to be missed at The Queen’s Hall on Friday 3 April.

The Festival is also pleased to welcome back to Ards Irish folk sensation Síomha who was one of the undoubted hits of last year’s Festival. Síomha will be supported at her Queen’s Hall gig on Saturday 4 April by virtuoso fingerstyle guitarist Shane Hennessy from Carlow (back by popular demand!) and German-born Sönke Meinen who has acquired an outstanding reputation on the international guitar scene.

Other highlights of this year’s programme include; The Richard Nelson Jazz Quartet, Rodney Branigan, Jane Willow and more! There will also be a screening of the silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) accompanied by guitarist Paul McMordie in the atmospheric surroundings of Kiltonga Hall.

Thin Lizzy fans are in for a treat with the Classic Band Brunch Wild Eyed Boys – The Thin Lizzy Story presented by Ralph McLean. Take a fascinating stroll through the history of one of the most celebrated bands of all time, featuring seldom-seen clips, some rarities and Ralph’s usual mix of musical insight and backstage gossip. Ards Arts Centre, Sunday 5 April.

Speaking about the festival, Alderman Bill Keery, The Mayor of Ards and North Down said: “We are delighted to once again host Ards International Guitar Festival which welcomes musicians from far and wide to Newtownards. The Festival is now 23 years old and is going from strength to strength. This year’s programme is fantastic, and we would encourage everyone to support the various events.”

Ards Guitar Festival Director, Emily Crawford commented: “This year’s Festival is shaping up to be an eclectic five days of guitar-based music with something to appeal to everyone from classical to jazz, blues to Americana and of course our signature acoustic percussive performances. There’s plenty of opportunity for a hands-on opportunity to learn from the experts with our Guitar Clinics and free lunchtime performances to get you into the festival spirit’’

Ards International Guitar Festival runs from 1 – 5 April. For ticket details or to view the full programme please visit the website  or call Ards Arts Centre on 028 9181 0803


Xsnoize Author
Mark Millar is the founder of XS Noize and looks after the daily running of the website as well as conducting interviews for the XS Noize Podcast. Mark's favourite album is Achtung Baby by U2.

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