After all the troubles of the past year, it is good to welcome an international arts festival yet again to Warwick.
Richard and Veronica Phillips have shrugged off the ashes of Warwick Arts Society's demise and, phoenix-like, have put together a ten-day programme of events which will once again bring crowds flocking to the historic town.
Warwick International Festival kicks off tomorrow with a welcome return visit from the popular soprano Emma Kirkby, singing with London Baroque in a programme mainly devoted to Handel. "Handel in London" at St Mary's Church begins at 7.30pm.
Highlights of a very full week-and-a-half include a recital from rising-star guitarist Morgan Szymanski at the Unitarian Chapel on Monday (7.30pm), with the same venue hosting an attractive programme of Verdi, Bellini, Donizetti and Reynaldo Hahn from tenor Mark Wilde and pianist Gerald Martin Moore on Tuesday lunchtime (12.30pm).
Tuesday evening sees a very attractive presentation as part of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's 70th birthday tour, when the versatile composer, pianist and singer is partnered by Claire Martin in an intimate cabaret-style concert at Warwick School's Bridge House Theatre (7.30pm).
On Wednesday lunchtime the popular duo of Alice Neary (cello) and Gretel Dowdeswell (piano) plays a meaty programme of Beethoven, de Falla and Brahms at the Unitarian Chapel (12.30pm), while the same evening over at the Bridge House Theatre the Greek folk group Plastikes Karekles ("plastic chairs") offers a tempting evening of Greek food and music (supper 7pm, must be pre-booked, performance 8pm).
St Mary's Church is the venue on Thursday evening for a sequence of contemplative music by candlelight from Warwick's own remarkable Armonico Consort. Hildegarde von Bingen, John Tavener, Gorecki and Arvo Part are the featured composers (note late starting-time of 9pm).
Next day the Armonico Consort launches itself into a revival of its recent tumultuous production of Purcell's The Fairy Queen, complete with puppets, comedy, dance and circus skills (Bridge House Theatre, 7.30pm Friday July 7, 2.30pm Sunday 2.30pm).
More on Warwick International Festival's final few days next week. All details on 01926 776438.
Regional choral societies are on their travels on Saturday, with the Circle Singers of Leamington, directed by CBSO archivist Beresford King-Smith, offering an interesting programme of Mozart and Brahms, sacred and secular, at Sutton Coldfield's South Parade Methodist Church (7.30pm, details on 0121 323 3425), and Birmingham Festival Choral Society under its conductor Patrick Larley taking summery fare to Malvern Priory, nestling in those magnificent hills (7.30pm, 01684 892289).
Almost exactly a year ago, the finals of what had proved a close-run Brant International Pianoforte Competition were disrupted by a police evacuation of Birmingham city centre, which naturally involved the clearance of Symphony Hall (I was there, but don't get me going about subsequent events). In the event the adjudicators decided to award equal prizes to all three finalists, and they will be perform-ing in a recital in the near future.
This year's competition gets underway on Saturday at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street (9am), with the semifinals at the same venue on Sunday (9.30am, details on 0121 750 4050). The finals will be held at Symphony Hall on Saturday week (July 8), with a 7pm start (0121 780 3333).
And finally for this week, fresh from their triumph at the recent Sir Charles Mackerras 80th Birthday concert, the Philharmonia Orchestra return to Symphony Hall on Tuesday July 4 with an appropriately all-American menu.
"Glorious Gershwin and Brilliant Bernstein" features the wondrous Kim Criswell in a cornucopia of goodies from Bernstein musicals, while Birmingham Conservatoire's own David Quigley is piano soloist in Rhapsody in Blue at the heart of a symphonic Gershwin first half, John Wilson conducting (7.30pm, details on 0121 780 3333).