Kilkenny Arts Festival 2014 | Visit Kilkenny- Kilkenny Tourism

Kilkenny Arts Festival 2014


Kilkenny Arts Festival 2014

41st Kilkenny Arts Festival

8th to 17th August 2014

First highlights of 2014 Kilkenny Arts Festival announced

A world of artistic magic in Ireland's medieval city

On Monday the 7th April, Eugene Downes announced initial highlights of the 41st Kilkenny Arts Festival which will take place from 8-17 August 2014.  This year's programme will be his first since taking on the role of Festival Director last October.  

Over the past forty years, Kilkenny Arts Festival has become one of Europe's significant artistic celebrations, and this year, the Festival will present a series of themed projects that range across the frontiers of classical, traditional and contemporary performance, many of which are unique collaborations, one-off events and world premieres.  

Speaking on the announcement, Festival Director Eugene Downes said: "Our initial highlights this year include an epic journey through some of the greatest music ever written, the return of one of the world's leading ensembles to Ireland's finest courtyard theatre, and the Kilkenny debut of The Gloaming, whose exploration of new musical frontiers has attracted worldwide acclaim.  Among our stages are the historic churches, castle, courtyards, houses and gardens of Ireland's medieval city. When extraordinary artists come together in such intimate conditions, magic can happen."

At the heart of the Festival is a celebration of Kilkenny itself, which in the last year has gained accolades including Europe's Friendliest City, two Michelin Stars and Ireland's Cleanest Town.  Showcasing Irish and international artists in stunning historic spaces, audiences are encouraged to explore the arts and the city in equal measure.  

Initial Festival highlights were announced today and tickets for these go on sale on Monday 7 April at 10am.

  • Beethoven Quest: The Complete String Quartets and Piano Concertos:  The 2014 Festival offers audiences a unique, epic journey through some of the most extraordinary music of all time - the complete string quartets and piano concertos of Beethoven:
    • The Complete String Quartets with the Heath Quartet:  Beethoven's complete String Quartets will be performed in ten one-hour concerts throughout the Festival by the Heath Quartet, one of Europe's most exciting young ensembles which this week makes its Carnegie Hall debut.  Oliver Heath (violin), Cerys Jones (violin), Gary Pomeroy (viola) and Christopher Murray (cello) will take up residence in the wonderfully intimate St John's Priory for this captivating series of lunchtime concerts. (8-17 August)
    • The Complete Piano Concertos with Barry Douglas (piano/director) and Camerata Ireland: Barry Douglas and his acclaimed ensemble return to Kilkenny with a rare cycle of Beethoven's five piano concertos over two evenings (15 and 16 August) in the glorious acoustics of St Canice's Cathedral, one of Ireland's most beautiful medieval buildings.
  • The Gloaming with special guests at St Canice's Cathedral: Already hailed as "one of the greatest Irish acts of their generation", The Gloaming bring their gloriously unfettered take on traditional music to St Canice's Cathedral for their long-awaited Kilkenny debut. These five remarkable musicians (Thomas Bartlett, Dennis Cahill, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and Martin Hayes) will be joined for this unforgettable evening by a number of surprise special guests.
  • Shakespeare's Globe returns to Castle Yard: Following their sold-out performances in 2012 and 2013, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Company, one of the world's finest ensembles, will return with a brand-new production of Much Ado About Nothing, a masterpiece of comic timing and dramatic suspense featuring literature's wittiest bickering couple. Directed by Max Webster, the production will open on 8 August and run for the duration the Festival in the stunning historic setting of Castle Yard.

Tickets for these highlights go on sale on Monday 7 April at 10am. The full programme for the 2014 Kilkenny Arts Festival will be announced in the coming months.

Booking details:

Kilkenny Arts Festival is core funded by the Arts Council and supported by Fáilte Ireland and Kilkenny Local Authorities.

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Further information:

Beethoven Quest: The Complete String Quartets / The Heath Quartet at St John's Priory:
The Heath Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting and original voice on the international chamber music scene.   Formed in 2002 at the Royal Northern College of Music, under the guidance of the late Dr Christopher Rowland and Alasdair Tait, they have undertaken residencies at IMS Prussia Cove with András Schiff and Erich Höbarth and at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh. Most recently, they won the 2013 Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artists Award and have given recitals at major festivals and venues throughout Europe as well as working with several leading composers including Louis Andriessen, Sofia Gubaidulina, Anthony Gilbert and Hans Abrahamsen.
The venue: the intimate surroundings of St John's Priory, reclaimed in the 19th century from the medieval ruins.

Beethoven Quest:  The Complete Piano Concertos / Barry Douglas (piano/ conductor) and Camerata Ireland:
Camerata Ireland brings together the finest musicians - both young and established - to celebrate the wealth of Irish musical talent.  Led by pianist and conductor Barry Douglas, the ensemble has toured all over the world, gaining an international reputation for excellence, while its recordings of Beethoven's piano concertos have met with great acclaim.    This will be their first Irish performance of the complete Beethoven cycle.
The concertos trace the rapid arc of Beethoven's development, from promising young pianist and composer to the turbulent grand master of his later years. The first two works, decorous in style, were popular successes, but it was with Concerto no. 3 that Beethoven moved further from the influence of Mozart to forge something richly expressive and new. The fourth Concerto deepened the relationship between orchestra and pianist, while the final concerto, known as the "Emperor" for its powerful themes and heroic tone, ranks among the composer's greatest achievements.
The venue: St Canice's Cathedral, a jewel of gothic architecture, is one of Ireland's most significant buildings. Famed both for its architectural beauty and superb acoustics, it is one of the many historic venues which will be featured during the Festival.

The Gloaming with special guests at St Canice's Cathedral:
This super-group features New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (Doveman, Antony and the Johnsons, Martha Wainwright), Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, Irish sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler & hardanger innovator Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and fiddle master Martin Hayes. Coming together in early 2011 at Westmeath's Grouse Lodge studios, they set out to create something utterly new with a nod to the ancient, and have gone from strength to strength performing to rave reviews and international acclaim.  
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre at Castle Yard:  
Shakepeare's Globe Theatre first performed in Ireland with a production of As You Like It at the 2012 Kilkenny Arts Festival. Following that sell-out run the company returned last year with another sell-out production, The Taming of the Shrew.
The Story: Claudio loves Hero and Hero Claudio and nothing seems capable of keeping them apart. Claudio's friend Benedick loves Beatrice and Beatrice Benedick, but (because neither will admit it) nothing seems capable of bringing them together. Only the intrigues of a resentful prince force Benedick to prove his love for Beatrice - by killing his best friend. Driven along by a romance all the more charming for being in denial, Much Ado About Nothing is a miracle of comic and dramatic suspense and gives us, in the bantering Beatrice and Benedick, Shakespeare's wittiest, most endearing pair of lovers.
The venue: The 18th century Castle Yard, originally built as the stable yard of Kilkenny Castle. Castle Yard is home to Kilkenny Design and a number of thriving craft and design businesses where it is possible to watch skilled craftspeople at work. Situated in the heart of the city, the Castle Yard provides a scenic link to the beautifully-restored walled gardens of Butler House, the Georgian dower house of the Castle.

Listings Information:

Beethoven Quest: The Complete String Quartets
The Heath Quartet
Venue: St John's Priory
Dates: 8-17 August
Time: 1pm
Tickets: from €13

Beethoven Quest: The Complete Piano Concertos
Barry Douglas (piano/director) and Camerata Ireland
Venue: St Canice's Cathedral

Programme I
Date: Friday 15 August
Time: 8pm
Piano Concerto No 2 in Bb
Piano Concerto No 1 in C
Piano Concerto No 4 in G
Tickets: from €23.50

Programme II
Date: Saturday 16 August
Time: 8pm
Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor
Piano Concerto No 5 "Emperor" in Eb
Tickets: from €23.50

The Gloaming with Special Guests
Venue: St Canice's Cathedral
Date: 13 August
Time: 8pm
Tickets: from €26

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Directed by Max Webster
Venue: Castle Yard
Dates: 8-12, 14-17 August
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: from €22.50

  • Special offers, family tickets and bundles available - see for details.
  • No booking fee will apply for a limited time.