The 39th Rye Arts Festival,which kicks off on 11th September and a packed programme of events runs through to 26th September, offering music, exhibitions, literary talks and a whole lot more for Ryers to enjoy.
The Festival is offering a classy and exciting menu of contemporary music. For starters, two folk acts are being served up, both of which were winners at the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2010. Show of Hands are an acoustic roots duo who regularly fill the Royal Albert Hall, while Sam Carter is a relative newcomer to the scene who is quickly gathering critical reviews and a growing following.
The term legend is often loosely thrown around, but Chris Barber really is one! Having formed his first band back in 1949 the ace trombonist will be bringing his 1 1 – p ie c e band to Rye College on 21st September, serving up a real treat for jazz fans of all ages.
For Blues and R & B fans, the Festival has another legend – Otis Grand. The multiple award-winning blues guitarist has been essential listening for four decades and promises an evening of earthy delight. The legendary John Peel championed the early careers of the likes of T Rex, The Undertones and The Smiths, so since he named Kanda Bongo Man as his favourite Glastonbury live act, you know they have to be good. And the Congolese master of Soukous music will be bringing his band, including female dancers, to Rye for a red hot night of African music that is guaranteed to get you dancing.
And this year’s classical music programme has a crossover with contemporary music. Respectable Groove refuse to be pigeonholed, as they are heavily influenced by jazz and modern music, but they play an interpretation of medieval through to baroque music, complete with the World’s foremost baroque dancer! A rare treat!
For traditionalists, there is a superb mix of globally renowned classical musicians and younger artists with growing reputations for musicianship that means they are set to be tomorrow’s stars. Pianist Nikolai Demidenko will be flying in especially from Madrid to give a Chopin recital to mark the composer’s 200th anniversary this year. And violinist Tasmin Li t t l e , who ha s played with orchest r a s a r o und t he World, will perform works by Bach, Mozart and Grieg, having provided free workshops in the afternoon to the students of Rye College and Rye Primary, that will hopefully inspire young Ryers.
The recently restored organ at St Mary’s Church is being celebrated with a concert fe a t ur ing Mart in Neary on the organ, plus the 20 strong Iceni Ensemble, with pieces by Poulenc, Mozart, Holst and Dvorak. String and Wind Quartets and Singers are just some of the other performers who will make up an exciting programme of music for classical music lovers.
The literary programme at this year’s Festival is a varied and exciting mix speakers with a strong emphasis on Rye connections. Firstly, though, the big names. Former Daily Telegraph editor Max Hastings, who now writes about military history, cut his teeth as a war correspondent and, famously, was already in the bar at the Upland Goose Hotel enjoying an early morning double scotch, when the British army arrived to liberate Port Stanley during the Falklands War. We can expect many more entertaining tales of derring-do as he dissects his own, and his family’s, colourful history.
Ellen MacArthur is one of the World’s greatest ever sailors, who broke the record for the fastest solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the globe, a record that French males had held for decades and believed was theirs by right. She has now retired from competitive sailing, and her fascinating and inspiring talk will focus on her career from saving her pocket-money as a child to buy her own dinghy to revealing what now is ‘floating her boat’!
A terrorist outrage while boating changed Timothy Knatchbull’s life forever. The author talks about how on a fishing trip as a child an IRA bomb blew up the boat, killing his grandfather Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandmother and his twin brother, leaving him seriously injured. A truly moving tale of unimaginable devastation and eventual reconciliation is promised.
Georgian London conjures up images of Regents Park and fine architecture, art, music and refined Society, but TV historian Dan Cruickshank looks behind the surface at the seamier side of life, focusing on prostitution and how vice was rife in those not quite so elegant times.
Architectural historian, and local, David Martin, will look at vernacular building in East Sussex, including houses, farms and other rural buildings, in what promises to be a fascinating insight into our familiar surroundings.
Helen Simonson went to Thomas Peacocke school, but now lives in New York, where she recently wrote a first novel set in a village near Rye, which topped the New York Times bestseller list. She is flying back to revisit her home town. Why not catch up with a former classmate?
And Tom Connolly, a film maker who lives locally, talks about his first novel The Spider Truces, which begins and ends in Dungeness. Find out what inspired him to write this at times very funny and also deeply moving coming of age story.
There are many other literary speakers, concerts, exhibitions and tours to entertain and delight at this year’s Rye Art’s Festival, including a performance by the students at the Rye Dance Centre at Rye College. To check out what’s on offer, go to www.ryeartsfestival. co.uk or call the Box Office on 01797 224442.
Rye’s Own September 2010
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