Unusual fanfare heralds the start of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Artists from the festival event Artists from the festival event " Blow " with staff of Abellio Greater Anglia performing a candle extinguishing fanfare at Norwich Railway Station at the launch event for this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Festival director William Galinsky and Abellio Greater Anglia's Jonathan Denby starting proceedings. Photo: Steve Adams

Thursday, May 8, 2014
1:56 PM

It’s festival time! A special fanfare of weird and wonderful instruments has today heralded the opening of this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival at Norwich Train Station.

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Festival celebrates long-running partnership with train operator

Abellio Greater Anglia is the principal travel partner for the festival, extending a relationship between the festival and the region’s train operator which stretches back 24 years, and one of Abellio’s Class 90 locomotives used on the Norwich to London line is called Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for Abellio Greater Anglia and who was among the today’s musicians, said: “We’re delighted to be the principal travel partner for this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

“By working together we help bring a fantastic mix of performers to the region, for an event which is not only enjoyed by the local community, but also supports the local economy and promotes Norwich at a national level. Our partnership enables the wider community in Norwich and Norfolk to enjoy a more diverse, exciting and entertaining programme of arts events during the Festival, with something for all the family.”

He said he was looking forward to seeing the two festival events Abellio is sponsoring - the Philharmonia Orchestra concert and singer Madeleine Peyroux’s performance at Norwich Theatre Royal - as well as Australian circus troupe Circa’s new show and The Sixteen concert at Norwich Cathedral.

“There’s a fantastic programme this year, with lots of opportunities for people to get involved and have a great time and a lot of fun,” he said.

Performers, festival and Abellio Greater Anglia staff, and volunteers joined in to create a rather unusual orchestra to welcome the 2014 arts extravaganza.

Led by Holly Bodmer - who is performing her show Blow at the festival - the motley crew of musicians enthusiastically played their trumpets, recorders, kazoos and whistles before using them to blow out the candles on a celebratory cake.

“We were hoping for an ear-catching as well as an eye-catching performance,” said Holly, who gave the impromptu orchestra a quick lesson beforehand.

“All the performers were great, it was a fantastic performance. The idea was to capture the spirit of the festival by giving people a chance to try something new and do something crazy and unusual in a public place.”

Among the performers was NNF artistic director William Galinsky who played the trumpet and joked he had found his “inner Miles Davis.”

He said: “I’m really excited about the start of the festival. It’s 17 days of extraordinary fun, great art, fantastic moments of community enjoyment, a celebration of where we live and how talented we all are and what a brilliant place Norfolk and Norwich is. Let’s shout it from the rooftops!”

He said the festival was bringing world class artists to the region and lots of free events for families to enjoy, and he said there was a great opening weekend in store.

About some of the weekend’s highlights, he said: “There are two really great concerts on Friday - the Philharmonia Orchestra, which is returns only now, and another great concert with Snarky Puppy, a great jazz, funk fusion band from New York. If you want to hear great music and have a bit of a dance to celebrate the festival we still have tickets available.

“The People’s Tower is one of my great festival highlights and I’m really excited about seeing this great cardboard version of St Peter Mancroft church being built on Saturday.”

Today’s colourful performance on the train station concourse also gave people a taste of what was in store in Holly’s show Blow, which is being performed on May 19 as part of the late night [Live] Art Club at Norwich Arts Centre which will run throughout the festival.

Holly said: “Blow is about giving it a go and that fluctuation between when you want to try something new but maybe get frustrated and think about giving up, and it’s about that fear you might blow it.

“It was inspired by a tape recording of a trumpet music exam - I found this excruciating but amusing tape of somebody trying to play the trumpet - and there’s a section in the show where the audience get the opportunity to play some of the instruments. Blow is for anyone who has ever picked up an instrument and then put it down again.

“I’m really excited about this year’s festival. This year in particular I have noticed that not only have you got artists from further a field but also local artists having a platform for themselves, and it’s great to be a part of that.”

• Blow by Holly Bodmer is at Norwich Arts Centre at 10.30pm on Monday, May 19. Tickets £5 (£3 conc.).

• The Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs from Friday, May 9 until Sunday, May 25. For more information about events and to book tickets visit www.nnfestival.org.uk or call 01603 766400.

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