Rye Arts Festival Opens New Doors


During a packed programme of events between 15th and 30th September, the 41st annual Rye Arts Festival is excited to be using three new venues in Rye this year – Tilling Green Community Centre; the Fletcher Centre in Lion Street; and St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Watchbell Street.

Since opening earlier this year Tilling Green Community Centre has gone from strength to strength as a vibrant, local hub, and has been chosen as the venue for US bluesman Catfish Keith at 8.00pm on Thursday 27th September. The skilled guitarist plays pre-war blues and his own compositions that remain true to the genre and an evening of earthy, authentic blues is guaranteed.

And Friday 30th September sees Lion Street’s Fletcher Centre hosting ‘The Signalmen and Other Ghost Stories’. A performance of spooky tales by a cast of professional actors is sure to breathe new life back into the buildings, which had sadly lain empty for 18 months. The buildings used to house the old Library and part of the FE Centre, but have recently been bought by the Fletcher in Rye group. The group plans to convert the site into a state-of-the-art digital cinema and performance centre, complete with café, but this show, based on a short story about a train crash by Charles Dickens and other ghoulish tales, provides an exciting and possibly nerve-tingling debut for the Centre.

St Anthony’s of Padua in Watchbell Street is a lovely church and a hidden gem that many Ryers might not be familiar with. However, the Roman Catholic Church has been chosen by the Rye Arts Festival as the venue for a couple of lunchtime classical music concerts. On Monday 17th September at 1.00pm St Anthony’s will host a recital by singer Duncan Rock and pianist Elizabeth Rossiter, and on Thursday 27th September, also at 1.00pm, guitarist Manus Noble will perform.

Catfish Keith
Catfish Keith
Duncan Rock
Duncan Rock

Rye Arts Festival Chairman, Catty Bingham, says: “The Festival has been an annual event in Rye since 1972 and we are always seeking to break new ground. We’re very excited to be using three new venues this year and hope that Ryers will come along and enjoy what is on offer.

“We used Tilling Green Community Centre as the venue for our launch party in July and are delighted to now be staging a concert there. For many years, before its closure, Lion St used to host our launch party, and so it is great to use it again – this time for an event. Having been empty for so long, the Victorian buildings are sure to add to the atmosphere! We wish the Fletcher in Rye group every success with their plans to open a cinema on the site. And St Anthony’s Church is a beautiful, intimate building, which perhaps has been ‘off the radar’ for too long, so we’re very happy and looking forward to putting that right this year.”

The jam-packed fortnight of Rye Arts Festival is offering over 50 events (some free), including classical music, literary talks, contemporary music (jazz, folk, blues and even gospel), theatre, guided historical-themed and nature walks, plus children’s events at venues in and around Rye. There really is something for everyone.

Festival brochures are widely available at shops, pubs, galleries, and information centres around the town as well as the Box office in Phillips and Stubbs. The Box Office is open for ticket sales between 9.30am and 1.30pm every Monday to Saturday. For more information call between these hours on 01797 224442 or go to www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk

Catfish Keith U.S. Bluesman

Performer, songwriter and highly skilled guitarist

Catfish Keith is a powerful performer, songwriter and highly skilled guitarist. Using both resphonic and flat-top acoustic instruments, he is equally at home with bottlenect and fingerpicking styles. A typical performance features covers of class pre-war blues and Catfish’s own pieces, which remain true to the rural blues genre. With a string of CSs to his credit as well as an instructional DVD, he tours all over the world on a regular basis, but this will be his first visit to Rye and our first music event at the new Tilling Green Community Centre.

Duncan Rock with Elizabeth Rossiter

Duncan Rock (baritone) & Elizabeth Rossiter (piano)

The young Australian baritone (‘mature, confident and deeply thoughtful’) has already made his mark on the international operatic stage and in 2010 he was the Jerwood Young Artist for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He sings a selection of songs accompanied by Elizabeth Rossiter (‘a remarkable musical talent’).

At St Anthony’s Church, Watchbell Street.

“Rye’s Own” September 2012

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