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CULTURE: Opera outreach programme winning many new friends; Classical Preview.

Byline: Christopher Morley's

As this year's very successful season in its Cotswold country-house setting overlooking the Evenlode valley nears its end, Longborough Festival Opera also approaches the climax of an outreach project in inner-city Birmingham bringing the rewards of the art-form to audiences who might never otherwise get the chance to experience it.

Since May, LFO has been running workshops in Aston schools. "These have been a great success," says Longborough press officer Charlotte Ooi, "and we are hoping to sustain our commitment to these children in years to come."

Tomorrow sees the culmination of LFO's education work in Birmingham with two performances at King Edward VI Aston School of "All you ever wanted to know about... Opera!".

Experienced opera singer and director Peter Knapp is the host of this presentation which aims to serve up "your favourite tunes linked by the funniest stories, teaching you how it really is: the divas, the devils, the dramas and the hilarious disasters".

There are two performances at the school in Frederick Road, with the first, beginning at 1.30pm, aimed at younger children and the second, at 7pm, suitable for an adult audience. Admission is free, with details available on 01451 830292 or on the website longboroughopera.com, which also bears details of this weekend's final two performances of Carmen back at Longborough.

Also this weekend the 25th Lichfield Festival approaches its conclusion, and among the many events which ensure it maintains a lively momentum up to the very end are a recital in the Cathedral this evening from one of this country's most exciting and respected young pianists, Freddy Kempf.

His programme begins with an Everest of a work which usually comes as the climax of an evening, Beethoven's mighty Hammerklavier Sonata. After an interval breather come two of Chopin's greatest compositions, the G minor Ballade and the B minor Sonata (7.30pm).

Tomorrow lunchtime the Cathedral's cosy Lady Chapel is the venue for a song recital by the versatile baritone and composer Roderick Williams, who is accompanied by Andrew West in settings of Franz Kafka by Alexander Goehr, early songs by Mahler, and Schumann's tremendous and moving Dichter-liebe (12 noon). In the evening at the Cathedral Carl Davis conducts members of the Royal Liverpool Phiharmonic Orchestra in performances of his own scores to screenings of Charlie Chaplin silent films, including the world premiAre of The Count (7pm).

And a generous offering of events on Saturday includes the return of Freddy Kempf, this time with the Royal String Quartet, in Schumann's lovely, lyrical Piano Quintet, preceded by string quartets by Haydn and the Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz (Lady Chapel 12.15pm). The Lichfield Garrick hosts Sinfonia VIVA in wind chamber music by Mozart, a Divertimento for three basset horns preceding the masterly Gran Partita in B-flat for 13 instruments, K361 (3pm).

Music of a vastly different order can be heard at the Garrick in the evening, with a visit from the cult Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (7.30pm), while back at Lichfield Cathedral the BBC Philharmonic is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda in Mozart's Overture La Clemenza di Tito and music from Prokofiev's powerful ballet Romeo and Juliet. Alina Ibragimova, who scored such a triumph with the CBSO early last season, is soloist in the monumental Violin Concerto by Beethoven (7.30pm, all Lichfield Festival details on 01543 412121).

Moving to the western fringes of our region, Evelyn Glennie is the soloist in what is sure to be an overwhelmingly-supported percussion recital in the Nimbus Concert Hall at Wyastone Leys near Monmouth on Saturday (7.45pm, details on 01600 891090, where you might still be in time to think about booking a delicious pre-concert meal or taking a picnic).

And on Wednesday a heady drive over the Long Mynd will bring you to Ratlinghope, home of Leasowes Bank Farm, where this year's summer festival in that delightful venue continues with a concert from The Contemporary Consort featuring a treasure-trove of works by Timothy Salter, Holst, Anthony Powers, Bliss, Colin Matthews, Oliver Knussen and George Benjamin (8pm, details on 01743 790769).

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The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain can be heard at the Lichfield Garrick
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 13, 2006
Words:694
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