Kilkenny Arts Festival The Divine ComedyIreland’s oldest arts festival – now ticking on past the 40 year mark – is back for 2013 and is set to run from August 9th to 18th this year. It’s almost exactly forty years since a young Seamus Heaney took to the stage in the Kyteler’s Inn for a reading at the very first festival.

This year Kilkenny will be once again lit up with dance, craft, film, opera, theatre and so much more as 500 artists from 21 countries present almost 150 events in 35 venues. Of course it’s the music Goldenplec is always hawking for and this year we have all the info.

Four time Grammy award winner Dawn Upshaw will be teaming up with renowned pianist Gilbert Kalish in their first ever solo recital in Ireland (Upshaw’s career includes getting a MacArthur Genius grant… Impressive). Pianist, Harpsichordist and organist Malcolm Proud will give a special solo harpsichord recital featuring Bach’s Partita No. 6.

The ever green Neil Hannon will be doing a solo gig in the stunning venue that is St. Canice’s Catherdral, while Mark E. Smith brings his forty year and thirty album strong catalog to Kilkenny when he bring his post-punk band The Fall to the city. Artist Liam Holden, Poet Danny Sheehy are teaming up with The Begleys and will build a Naomhóg by hand, travel up the River nore and arrive in Kilkenny for a special performance before taking to the water again.

Michael Gordan is giving a world premiere commissioned by the festival and performed by Crash Ensemble. They will be joined for the evening by Dawn Upshaw to perform ‘That The Night Come’ and Donnacha Dennehy’s haunting song cycle based on poems by WB Yeats. The concert will also feature another work ‘Drones, Variations, Ornaments’ especially written for Crash by THE young American composer of the moment, Nico Mulhy.

Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland will travel to Kilkenny to perform a special programme to mark the Benjamin Britten centenary. The evening will also feature one of the world’s leading exponents of the trumpet, English trumpeter Alison Balsom. Ian Wilson (Irish composer) will bring together three quality jazz musicians (Ronan Guilfoyle, Cathal Roche and Matthew Jacobsen) to make a Comtempo quartet project called The Hours.

Bringing a bit of electronic fun to Kilkenny will be Fight Like Apes, and you can also catch David Kitt and Seamus Fogarty and bass and drum duo Bitches. Multi instrumentalist Margie Lewis, jazz quintet Phisqa, Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band, Ensemble Marsyas, Swedish pianist Bob Stensen, Bassekou Kouyate, Trygve Seim and Frode Haltli all will be putting on performances while Ciaran Tourish, Cathal Hayden, Kevin Doherty will play a lunchtime show at St. John’s. Finally we have rising Irish acts Biggles Flys Again, Seti The First and The Thomas Donoghue Band also on the billing.

Oh and the Kilkenny Arts Festival Choir will perform one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century music: Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in the 13th century cathedral of St. Canice.

Holy information overload Batman. Kilkenny will be jammed with great musical options this year.