IN A festival packed month, the 37th annual Presteigne Festival will be running from August 22 to 27.

Festival producer is Alison Giles who first became involved with Presteigne Festival when she came over from Gloucestershire to work as a volunteer about 15 years ago.

“When my husband and I moved to the Presteigne area, my role grew so that I am now festival producer, working year round on a part-time basis alongside the director George Vass.

“I’ve worked in the arts all my life, with companies including English National Opera, The Sixteen and the National Youth Choir. Presteigne Festival is one of a number of roles I now have. I also manage Brecon Baroque Festival, which takes place in October, and I work extensively as an arts and heritage fundraiser.

“Right across the Festival, we have a resident orchestra in town to rehearse here, and to give three of our evening concerts. It’s a group that is invited from ‘day jobs’ with the top UK orchestras and the standard of playing is exceptional.

“Many of them have been to the Festival before and love it. It’s always wonderful to have them back in town and they work incredibly hard on both the traditional and the new music for which the Festival has a reputation.”

Asked to choose her personal highlights from this year’s festival, Alison says that’s difficult but suggests: “The first night (August 22) always has a special buzz to it. This year we have a strong American theme across the Festival, so the first night features music from some of the greatest Broadway shows with a really fantastic line-up of singers. I love the wit and pizzazz of these songs.

“I heard Fiona Sampson’s 'In Search of Mary Shelley' on BBC Radio 4 when it was Book of the Week. I loved it, and I’m very keen to hear Fiona talking about it on Friday, August 23, at St Michael’s, Discoed. It’s had great reviews, and she’ll be signing copies there.

“We have a short film season, chosen and introduced by film editor Tony Lawson. The first of these on August 24 is the romantic and funny 'Ninotchka' starring Greta Garbo - one of my favourite films. I’ve seen it several times at home, but it’s lovely to watch a favourite with a glass of wine from the bar and in a crowd sometimes.

“It’s always good to wind up a festival day with a late night show. This year’s is 'Dorothy Parker Takes a Trip', on August 26, a brilliant one-act solo play with actor and singer Sarah Gabriel. Words from Dorothy’s essays, poems and letters are interspersed with numbers by Cole Porter and Gershwin.”

Full details can be found on the website, or call the box office on 01544 267800.