More artists and further details have been announced for the 2021 edition of Manchester International Festival (MIF). A much needed and very welcome vibrant programme of original new work from artists across the spectrum of contemporary music, art and performance in venues and spaces across the city and online from 1-18 July.
Homecoming Live (17 July) a night showcasing of the most exciting music from Africa, the diaspora and beyond; a celebration of African cultural exchange and youth empowerment. Nigerian Afrorave star and musician Rema will headline alongside hotly tipped Afrobeats artist Midas the Jagaban, Manchester producer and DJ Anz with Julie Adenuga hosting. The show will take place at Manchester Central and will also be broadcast live on the night at mif.co.uk. This is the first event in a long-term relationship with Homecoming, a cultural exchange between Nigeria and Manchester with events leading up and at The Factory, the landmark cultural space that will be the future home of MIF.
Accompanied by a band and string quartet, Damon Albarn (13 July) will perform tracks from across his extensive songbook, including the current project The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows, originally inspired by the landscapes of Iceland and expanded and completed during lockdown to further explore themes of fragility, emergence and rebirth. The title is taken from a John Clare poem Love and Memory. With a history of collaboration with the Festival since its inception, this rare live appearance by Albarn is not to be missed.
MIF presents the UK premiere of Gabin Rivoire’s documentary Laurent Garnier: Off the Record, (11 July) a film about the life and career of the famous French DJ, producer and techno pioneer, and the history of the political and judicial response to rave culture. The film mixes tour footage and interviews interspersed with archival footage that provides a flashback to the late ’80s when the techno scene was emerging in Detroit and England, in clubs like Manchester’s Haçienda, where Laurent Garnier started his DJing journey. The premiere will be followed by a Q&A with Garnier and writer, broadcaster and fellow Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam.
Three new commissions will premiere as part of The Patience of Trees (16 July), an intimate concert inspired by the healing potential and power of the natural world. A new work by composer Dobrinka Tabakova, devised by Hugo Ticciati and performed with Manchester Camerata, is at the heart of an intimate concert inspired by the healing potential and power of the natural world. Vulpes Vulpes by Paul Saggers winner of the O/Modernt Composition Award 2021and Todo Era Vuelo En Nuestra Tierra by Julieta Szewach, who received Special Distinction will also be presented. The programme also features Tabakova’s Frozen River Flows and Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint. Together, the works combine to form a timely meditation on nature and the city – and a reflection of sorts on our welcome emergence from the last year.
Across three stages on Festival Square, the hub of MIF in the centre of the city, there will be daily free music from over 100 artists across the UK with highlights including soul singer Pip Millett (Mon 5 July), Blanketman and Lounge Society (Mon 12 July) who will be playing as part of a Dave Haslam curated line-up (Mon 12 July) and post-punk songwriter Billy Nomates (Tues 13 July). The Untold Orchestra will present a tribute to Nina Simone’s Four Women (Fri 2 July) in a unique piece exploring the experiences of Black women within the creative industries and society at large, and will be joined by DJ Paulette, poet Shirley May, vocalist Yemi Bolatiwa, dancer Maisha Kungu and contemporary circus performer Seren Marimba.
Each weekday in MIF’s Records of Reflection series on Festival Square, artists including Afrodeutsche, Norman Jay and Lou Rhodes of Lamb will play and discuss the music that has had an impact on their life, has inspired them or has special meaning. More Festival Square acts will be revealed in June.
And as part of MIF's online offering DJ and electronic music producer aya will score We Dwell in Possibility, a queer online gardening simulation created by videogame developer Robert Yang and illustrator Eleanor Davis.
• Patti Smith Quartet - The New York icon crosses the Atlantic for two special live shows.
• Arlo Parks performs with students from the Royal Northern College of Music.
• Cerys Matthews curates a stage of spoken work music, poetry, song and rap.
• Singer Abi Sampa, kora virtuoso Sona Jobarteh and poet Muneera Williams headline a special event launching a new festival of Islamic art and culture.
• A journey deep into Manchester’s Hip Hop underground with DJ Semtex, SVMI, Lady Ice, Culps, Rago Loco and Victoria Jane plus special guests. Together with, DJ sets from DJ G-A-Z – Best DJ at the Urban Music Awards 2020 – and Unity’s DJ Basha.
• The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner collaborate with Jon Hopkins to create the soundtrack for All of This Unreal Time, a film starring Cillian Murphy, written by Max Porter, directed by Aoife McArdle
• Curated stages from Jamz Supernova, DJ Paulette, Mr Scruff, BBC Music Introducing in Manchester, Dave Haslam and Homoelectric on Festival Square.
Events will take place safely in indoor and outdoor locations across Greater Manchester, and a rich online offer will provide a window into the Festival wherever audiences are, including livestreams and work created especially for the digital realm.
Tickets for MIF21 events are now on sale and can be purchased from mif.co.uk.