THE world’s greatest living explorer, a thespian Dame, the wildlife photographer in our homes and a renowned brass band will be joining forces to bring a festival atmosphere to Winchester in July.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Dame Harriet Walter, Chris Packham and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band join feminist voice Germaine Greer, Tudor historian David Starkey, jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth and senior Rabbi, Baroness Neuberger, are all in the line-up for the 17th Winchester Festival of the Arts which will run July 4 to 13.

This year’s event includes Great War and Shakespeare anniversary themes.

The opening concert sees the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra return to the Cathedral stage with a programme that will include Holst’s Planets Suite.

Classical Brit and Gramophone Award winner, Benjamin Grosvenor will be giving a piano recital at the Theatre Royal while other musical treats include performances by the Ashton Singers and a second Winchester-based chamber choir, Southern Voices, who will be joined by actor Gabriel Woolf for a late night concert with a Shakespearian theme.

Baroque specialists, Canzona, will take their audience to 17th century Venice, while the life and loves of Franz Liszt will be explored through a fusion of theatrical and musical talent featuring Harriet Walter and Henry Goodman, with Lucy Parham at the piano.

Other prominent speakers in this year’s line-up include Sir Jonathan Miller, Barnsley poet Ian McMillan and Dr Anthony Seldon, political historian and headmaster of Wellington College, who will explore the impact of public schools on the conduct of the Great War.

Budding singers can Come and Sing with acclaimed composer and choral director John Rutter; adult actors can explore their craft and banish any fear of Shakespeare at a workshop led by Globe on Tour director Nick Bagnall and the birth of Shakespeare will be celebrated through a Literature Comes Alive project in local primary schools.

Festival director Carol Butler, said: “Winchester is home to numerous cultural events, many of which focus on a particular theme or anniversary.

“The Festival’s strength lies in tapping into demand for a broad spectrum of eminent speakers and classical musicians, with a few surprises along the way. “I am particularly pleased with the variety offered in this year’s programme and look forward to sell-out audiences enjoying everything from the poetry of Shakespeare to the rousing music of a colliery band.

Tickets are on sale from Monday May 12.

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