City of Culture 2013 Preview Programme Launch

Watch videos from the glitzy ceremony at St Columb's Hall in Derry~Londonderry

Derry-Londonderry gave a tantalising glimpse of the celebrations that are set to envelop the city during its year as City of Culture in 2013 at a Programme Preview event at St Columb’s Hall, the first official programme announcement by Culture Company 2013.

An invited audience were treated to an advanced look at some of the events that will be taking place in the city next year, when artists and performers from Derry~Londonderry and further afield will help to illuminate 2013.

Cultural practitioners of international renown such as actor Stephen Rea, Bosnian theatre director Haris Pasovic and Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter were among those who provided details of their contributions to next year’s programme.

There were also special video messages of support from two of the city’s bright young talents, Damian McGinty of US television smash hit Glee and Girls Aloud star, Nadine Coyle. And there were live musical performances from legendary Derry musician Phil Coulter, up-and-coming star of BBC’s The Voice, Ben Kelly, and concert piano impresario Barry Douglas.

In all, 13 separate programme elements were highlighted at the launch event. These included new commissions from the city’s legendary Field Day Theatre Company, a massive pageant celebrating the Return of Colmcille written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, plus a new oratorio celebrating the association between St Columb’s Cathedral and the city’s patron saint, entitled Four Centuries of Song, by composer Laurence Roman and poet Sam Burnside.

Furthermore, a cantata to mark the 400th anniversary of the unique relationship between Derry-Londonderry and London, written by Pulitzer-prizewinning Northern Ireland poet Paul Muldoon and the composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, entitled At Sixes and Sevens has been commissioned.

A unique theatre event entitled The Conquest of Happiness, with an international cast of artists from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Bosnia Herzegovina and Slovenia will have its world premiere in Derry-Londonderry in 2013.

And Hofesh Shechter, one of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary choreographers and the London International Festival of Theatre will bring a specially commissioned piece Political Mother: Derry-Londonderry UnCut to the city.

There were also announcements regarding three of the biggest aspects of the massive programme of community engagement taking place in 2013 – Portrait of a City, The Music Promise and Music City.

Channel 4 television series Hollyoaks will be bringing a special offering to the city, while RTE’s eclectic music show Other Voices will branch out from its traditional home in St James Church in Dingle to host a number of performances in the city.

There was confirmation of the dates for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the biggest festival of Irish Culture anywhere in the world, taking place from August 11 - 18, 2013. And details were released of the jury who will judge the Turner Prize, the UK’s foremost award for contemporary art when it takes place in the city in 2013, the first time this prestigious event has been held outside England.

The launch in St Columb’s Hall in Derry~Londonderry was hosted by the BBC’s Gerry Anderson.

Speaking at the event, Chair of Culture Company 2013, Martin Bradley said: ‘Since claiming the fantastic accolade of being named the first UK City of Culture in 2010, Culture Company 2013’s dedicated team has worked ceaselessly to put in place an unprecedented programme of cultural events and community engagement for next year.

'Today’s event previewed just a few of the highlights of calendar cultural activity that will inundate the city in 2013. Our full programme of events will be announced in the autumn and 2013 is set to be a landmark year in our city’s history and will deliver a much sought after step change for Derry-Londonderry.’

Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín said it was ‘an exciting time for Derry and the north. My Department is proud to be part of the cultural renaissance in Derry, showcasing the creativity and vibrancy this city has to offer.

‘My Department is contributing over £12 million to City of Culture 2013 as part of my continued commitment to Derry and the north west. This will help deliver activities and events designed to cement Derry’s place as a world class cultural hub.

‘As this programme of exciting events is revealed today people can start marking dates in their diary to visit the city. The next 18 months provide an opportunity for us all to be part of something which will reach an international stage and resonate for years to come. I urge everyone to make a date with Derry.’

Westminster Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, added: ‘It’s very exciting to get a first glimpse of the huge array of events and activities that Derry -Londonderry has got planned for their year as the UK’s very first City of Culture. I know the city has been working incredibly hard on their plans for 2013 and will do an amazing job as they open their doors to the world throughout the year.’