Convent Garden’s operatic superstar, Susan Bullock, will headline a 10-day festival of world-class classical concerts and master classes in this year’s International Musicians Platform.

Brought to the region by Dumfries and Galloway-based music charity, Absolute Classics, the festival takes place from 31 July to 9 August and Miss Bullock will shine amongst such stars of the genre as internationally-renowned violinist Tasmin Little and cellist Karine Georgian.

In line with Absolute Classics’ pledge to bring top quality world-class performers to audiences in Dumfries and Galloway, this year’s festival will also host some of the rising names on the international platform, such as Thornhill tenor Nicky Spence; pianists Sasha Grynyuk from the Ukraine and Malaysia’s Mei Ye Foo; Polish violinist Bartosz Woroch; and the Glasgow-based Aurea Quartet.

The festival will be based at McMillan Hotel Group’s flagship property, The Cally Palace near Gatehouse of Fleet, with concerts taking place from Portpatrick to Thornhill throughout the 10-day period.

Many of the musicians will make themselves available for a week-long series of master classes which include lessons and lunchtime recitals, giving the region’s aspiring musicians a unique opportunity to learn from the masters of the trade.

The festival kicks off on 31 July at the Cally Palace with an evening concert by Karine Georgian, one of the outstanding exponents of the golden generation of Russian string playing. She will be accompanied by pianist John Lenehan.

On 1 August, Greyfriar’s Church, Dumfries, is the venue for a masterful performance by leading international violinist Tasmin Little, who has performed on every continent in some of the most prestigious venues of the world, including Carnegie Hall, Musikverein, Concertgebouw, Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, South Bank Centre, Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall, Lincoln Center and Suntory Hall.

On the afternoon of 2 August, Sasha Grynyuk will play on Absolute Classics’ specially commissioned Blüthner piano at The Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms Hotel in Thornhill. Sasha is the winner of over 10 International competitions, prizes and awards and was chosen as a Rising Star for BBC Music Magazine and International Piano Magazine.

Wednesday, 5 August, sees award-winning young musicians Bartosz Woroch and Mei Yi Foo perform a classical programme for violin and piano at the Cally Palace.

Also on that evening, The Aurea String Quartet, will play a programme of Haydn and Mendelssohn at the Fernhill Hotel, Portpatrick. Based in Glasgow, the quartet comprises four prize-winning graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Thornhill’s own Nicky Spence returns to the region to perform a programme featuring Vaughan Williams and Elgar alongside The Aurea String Quartet and John Thwaites, piano, at Greyfriars Church Dumfries on Thursday, 6 August.

On Friday, 7 August, at the Cally Palace, BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award-winning pianist, Mei Ye Foo, will perform a programme featuring scores by Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Chopin.

The highlight of the festival takes place on Saturday, 8 August, when Nicky and co-tenor Richard Berkeley-Steele will join voices with opera megastar Susan Bullock in a rare and unique concert at Greyfriars Church. Australia-born Susan Bullock is the world’s most sought-after British dramatic soprano and is one of a grand total of 10 illustrious Visiting Professors in the Royal Academy of Music’s Vocal Faculty. She received a CBE for her services to opera and performs to audiences of thousands on the world’s grandest stages. Her Greyfriars concert is expected to be a sell-out as this is a very rare and unique opportunity to see and hear Susan perform live to a Scottish audience. The singers will be accompanied on piano by award-winning pianist Simon Lepper.

Nicky Spence moves to the Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms in Thornhill on Sunday, 9 August, for an afternoon performance accompanied by Simon Lepper. This performance ends the International Musicians Platform for another year.

Absolute Classics director, Alex McQuiston, said: “We are delighted with this year’s programme which mixes the big names of classical music with the young rising stars of the genre.
“This is a very exciting time for Absolute Classics. Thanks to the generosity of our funders and supporters, we are now able to bring some of the biggest stars of classical music to venues in Dumfries and Galloway.

“World class musicians deserve to be heard on the best quality instruments and, thanks to sponsorship from leading piano makers Blüthner, we have a grand piano at the Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms Hotel in Thornhill and a fabulous concert grand at the Cally Palace.”

And it is the generosity of sponsors that has allowed Absolute Classics to bring top names to the region.

Alex added: “Susan Bullock, Tasmin Little and Karine Georgian are real coups for this region. It is unlikely that these stars would be seen performing live in front of audiences outside the big cities of the world. We are absolutely delighted that they have agreed to be part of the festival.

“Our recent collaboration with the McMillan Hotel Group also ensures that the festival has its base in one of Dumfries and Galloway’s most prestigious and top quality hotels, giving audiences that all-round experience of luxury and extravagance without the excessive price-tag.

“We aim to be inclusive. Classical music is not just for the rich and educated. It is a wonderful, beautiful genre of music which should be made available to everyone.

“I would urge everyone to come along to a concert and experience these world-renowned artists doing what they do best and on our very own doorstep.”

For further information and to book tickets, visit www.absoluteclassics.co.uk or pick up a brochure from the many outlets throughout the region.

· The 2015 Absolute Classics regular monthly classical concert series begins in September at venues across Dumfries and Galloway.

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