Mozart Players bring touch of class to festival

Since its formation more than 60 years ago, the London Mozart Players has performed in concert halls and music venues up and down the country and across Europe.

Since its formation more than 60 years ago, the London Mozart Players has performed in concert halls and music venues up and down the country and across Europe.

And the UK's first chamber orchestra is set to bring a touch of class to a south Norfolk market town next week when it headlines the annual Harleston and Waveney Festival.

The internationally renowned ensemble will make a welcome visit to St John the Baptist Church in Harleston on Tuesday night as part of a whirlwind tour, which includes appearances at festivals and concerts throughout the UK and abroad.

The players, who are highly regarded as one of the best live performers of classical music, will bring 12 of their best strings performers for a programme at the town church that will include Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bach's Violin Concerto in E major.

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The concert will be one of the last for London Mozart Players director David Juritz, who is preparing to move to pastures new after 18 years with the orchestra.

The violinist said Harleston church was a perfect venue for the performers, who are looking forward to playing at the Harleston and Waveney Festival for the first time.

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'We used to come over to Norfolk and Suffolk ten times a year and it is nice to come back and perform in one of the fine churches there. It is pretty much ideal for a chamber orchestra because we have got the right size of building for the sound and churches are always a good atmosphere for concerts. And it is good to be closer to the audience as well.

'They give everything to every performance and we can take a lot of chances because we know each other so well and there is room for spontaneity, which makes for a great live performance,' he said.

The visit of the London Mozart Players complements a line-up of music, talks, films, and literature featuring the finest artistic talent from the Waveney Valley.

The community festival, which runs over nine days, begins tomorrow with a sold out evening of world music in aid of Amnesty International at the Swan Hotel, featuring Louis de Berni�res, author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, who will be playing a mandolin.

The packed programme of events will conclude with a free family fun day at the Harleston Recreation Ground on Bank Holiday Monday, August 30, featuring fly-pasts from the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and display from an RAF Sea King helicopter.

Festival chairman Margaret Griffiths said the aim of the events was to get 'bums on seats and smiles on faces'.

'We are labelled as an arts festival, but we do not regard ourselves as one. It is a Harleston festival and a festival for the town and our aim is provide as much variety and enjoyment as possible and appealing to the whole range of the population of Harleston.'

'Whether it is classical, jazz, or acoustic, there is something for everyone throughout the week. We try to get something just a little bit extra special every year and I think it is a good well-balanced programme,' she said.

The London Mozart Players bring the wow factor to the festival this year, which also includes performances from Southwold-based the Sole Bay Jazz Band at the Harleston Apollo Club next Friday at 7.30pm, screenings of documentaries by Wingfield-based filmmaker Bob Edwards at Wingfield Barns at 7.30pm on Wednesday, and readings by local poet Oliver Bernard at the Swan at 12.30pm on Thursday.

'There are an awful lot of talented people living in Norfolk and an awful lot have moved from London, including musicians, writers, and actors and there is a lot of local talent and it seems silly not to take advantage of it,' said Margaret, who is overseeing her fourth and penultimate Harleston and Waveney Festival.

She added that the preparations for the 2011 festival will begin straight after this year's events have finished.

'We keep our ear to the ground, but we do not want to do the same thing as the festivals around us. Each festival has to stay a bit different,' she said.

The Apollo Club in Harleston will also host a screening of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, on Thursday August 26 at 7.30pm.

And the newly opened Pennoyer Centre at Pulham St Mary will be hosting an airship day on Saturday August 28 to celebrate the village's role as an air station during the first half of the 20th century.

Starston Church will also be getting involved with a programme of readings from the work of Dylan Thomas next Saturday at 7.30pm.

Another new aspect to the festival this year is 'Breaking Ground', a month long arts project devised by the town's allotment association and aiming to promote the pleasure and beauty of fresh, home grown vegetables. A variety of free activities are planned including story telling, a poetry competition, and garden gnome sculpture workshop.

Tickets are still available for most of the paid for performances and can be booked in advance on 01379 851917 or 01379 852221.

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