Since its foundation in 1974, Kilkenny Arts Festival has gathered many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists in Ireland’s medieval city each August. For ten days, the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for unique collaborations and intimate encounters between audiences and artists.
From the beginning, classical music has been at the core of the programme, featuring globally acclaimed artists such as Victoria de los Angeles, Alfred Brendel, Jordi Savall, Steven Isserlis, Dawn Upshaw, Nigel Kennedy and Joshua Bell among many others. Poetry has also featured prominently since the early years in the 1970s, when Seamus Heaney acted as literary curator and brought some of the world’s finest poets to Kilkenny, including Robert Lowell, Sorley Maclean, former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Kate Tempest and Robert Pinsky.
In recent years the Festival has further enriched its music programme with major series focussing on a single composer, and also through The Marble City Sessions, a new cross-genre series of unique musical collaborations featuring a range of artists-in-residence, hosted and co-curated by the great Irish traditional musician Martin Hayes.