Manchester International Festival announces 2015 Programme

By Lee Isherwood | 5 March 2015

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Manchester International Festival announces the programme for the 2015 event (Thursday 2 – Sunday 19 July), which celebrates a decade of the world’s only festival of original new work. The programme includes world premieres, unique concerts and one-off events, including a number of free events across the festival.


Alex Poots, founding CEO and Festival Director said: “For our fifth Festival, in our tenth year, we remain committed to working with some of the world’s greatest artists, supporting them to make their most ambitious and best work. For my last Festival it is such a pleasure to welcome many new artists and some returning artists to MIF.

Over the last decade, MIF has helped enable artists to develop their art forms and at times foster connections between different art forms. The best of these works have shown the interdependence between creative disciplines that may not, on the surface, seem to have as much in common, but actually have a deep rooted artistic compatibility.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Over the past decade, MIF has helped cement Manchester’s position as a major player on the global arts scene, while attracting tens of thousands of visitors from around the world, providing an important economic boost to the city, and inspiring members of our communities to get involved in the arts.

“The calibre of internationally renowned artists, musicians and performers announced for this summer’s event demonstrates that MIF is continuing to break new ground and will continue to showcase Manchester as a vibrant centre of innovation and creativity.”

Richter / Pärt is a remarkable project, several years in the making. Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt have made work inspired by and dedicated to each other, after being introduced by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Alex Poots in 2013. These works will be united for the first time at the recently re-opened the Whitworth art gallery. To accompany the show at the Whitworth the Manchester Camerata will perform an evening of Pärt’s music at the Bridgewater Hall conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy.

Also at the Bridgewater Hall, Mark Simpson, one of Britain’s brightest young composers, presents the world premiere of his first large scale commission, The Immortal, performed by the BBC Philharmonic. This new work for orchestra and choir explores the obsession with death that lies at the heart of the human experience, in a programme completed by Mozart’s Requiem.

Neck of the Woods sees Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and celebrated pianist Hélène Grimaud create a portrait of the wolf in a collision of visual art, music and theatre onstage at new arts centre HOME, with Charlotte Rampling as the raconteur.

FKA twigs will be making her MIF debut with a residency at Old Granada Studios, Soundtrack 7. FKA twigs and collaborators will make seven short films over the week, with audiences invited in to observe the process.

Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom return to MIF with The Skriker at The Royal Exchange Theatre, a landmark revival of Caryl Churchill’s clash of ancient fairy story and portrait of a fractured England, featuring specially commissioned music by Nico Muhly and Antony.

Choreographer Wayne McGregor is creating Tree of Codes for MIF 2015, a contemporary ballet inspired by the book Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer. Soloists and dancers from The Paris Opera Ballet alongside Company Wayne McGregor will form the company, performing in an environment created by visual artist Olafur Eliasson to a score composed by Mercury Prize-winning producer/composer Jamie xx.

Artist Ed Atkins is lifting the veil on the production of digital art with Performance Capture at Manchester Art Gallery; this installation will provide a unique and reflexive insight into the production of a computer-generated moving image work. is a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice In Wonderland, with music by Damon Albarn and book and lyrics by Moira Buffini. This co-production with the National Theatre will be directed by its Director Rufus Norris. To celebrate the new musical and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague will create High Tea in Wonderland, a magical food event behind the scenes at Manchester Museum.

Four years on from her ground-breaking Biophilia residency, Björk returns to MIF for a spectacular one-off gig at Manchester’s Castlefield Arena, while 24-year old Venezuelan artist Arca (co-producer for Björk’s Vulnicura) makes his first MIF appearance. One of the most innovative and inspired musical voices of his generation, he will present a live show with his long-time collaborator, visual artist Jesse Kanda.

The Age of Starlight will be a world first show about the origin of the universe and everything within and without it, brought to life by the incredible new cinematic reality technology that is being pioneered by Magic Leap.

While work on the commission will continue past 2015 in order to fully realise this ambitious new show, audiences at MIF15 will be invited to a presentation by members of the creative team, charting the progress made so far and the compelling ideas behind the project.

FlexN Manchester sees Brooklyn-based Flex dance pioneer Reggie ‘Roc’ Gray and a specially assembled team of Flex dancers making their European debut as part of MIF15. This unique transatlantic collaboration will unite the best of street dance from Brooklyn and Manchester to create a final performance combining the Flex dancers and Manchester crews.

CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher will bring The Tale of Mr Tumble to Manchester’s Opera House. This special new show will give children and families the chance to see Mr Tumble live and up close as he and his family share some of their fondest memories.

Interdependence is a two-day event of discussion, debate and inspiring thinking with some a chance to join some of the world’s leading artists, performers, scientists, writers and technologists in Manchester. The event takes place at a pivotal moment for Manchester, with a record amount of investment flowing into the city to support innovation across artistic and scientific endeavors. Participants will include Olafur Eliasson, Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov, Jeremy Deller and Alex Poots.

Industrious comedy innovators The Invisible Dot Ltd present a three-part programme of intrepid and original works in MIF’s own Pavilion Theatre. The Crocodile, written by Tom Basden and directed by Ned Bennett, tells the story of Ivan and Zack’s afternoon at the zoo, which is disturbed when Ivan is eaten by a crocodile. Cult geek, award-winning radio host and tech guru Adam Buxton premiers his latest material and introduces his funniest friends. The Invisible Dot Cabaret present late night line-ups from their most celebrated jokers.

Throughout MIF15, Manchester’s Albert Square becomes Festival Square, home to the Pavilion Theatre, Festival Pavilion, The Glass House and MIF Box Office. As well as hosting a programme of club nights and free DJs, innovative comedy, guided walks and exclusive talks, Festival Square offers a place to eat, drink, relax, socialize and soak up the MIF experience.

10% of tickets for all shows across the Festival are available at £12 to Greater Manchester residents on or below the national living wage, with the aim of making more of the Festival more accessible to local people on a lower wage. The £12 ticket scheme was introduced in 2013 and has doubled this year from 5% to 10%.

MIF Creative is Manchester International Festival’s creative learning programme and is all about collaborative projects that give exciting opportunities for local communities to get involved in the development of artistic productions and be inspired by artists who are at the top of their game. Its activities range from large-scale artistic commissions developed with everyone from local schoolchildren to shop assistants, from refugees to pensioners; to programmes to help emerging Manchester-based producers get ahead on the professional ladder. MIF Creative projects for 2015 include FlexN Manchester, The Tale of Mr Tumble and Sacred Sounds Women’s Choir, established for MIF13, who this year provide a soundscape and chorus for Neck of the Woods.

Tickets go on sale to general public at 1pm, Friday 6 March
Tickets go on sale to MIF members at 1pm, Thursday 5 March

Book tickets online at or call the box office on 0844 871 7654.