All set for King’s Lynn Festival

Navarra String Quartet, 2014

Navarra String Quartet, 2014 - Credit: Archant

The 64th King's Lynn Festival gets under way on Sunday with nationally-known names offering a feast of music and much more. TREVOR HEATON reports.

Jazz singer Clare Teal

Jazz singer Clare Teal - Credit: Archant

In a town packed with architectural gems, the King's Lynn Festival offers a cultural feast where the elegant venues perfectly complement the treats on offer.

King's Lynn Festival Chorus 2014

King's Lynn Festival Chorus 2014 - Credit: Archant

Founded in 1951 and lovingly nurtured by Ruth, Lady Fermoy and enthusiastically supported by patron the Queen Mother, the festival has grown and thrived with its programme built round some of the finest classical music talents in this country and beyond.

National Youth Jazz Orchestra, 2014

National Youth Jazz Orchestra, 2014 - Credit: Archant

Its programme is always eagerly awaited by music lovers, and this year's festival - which runs from Sunday to July 26 - is no exception. As well as its classical programme, the festival offers a lively series of other events, ranging from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Clare Teal - two of the best-known names in British jazz - to familiar television faces Nicholas Crane (from Coast) and Lars Tharp, from the Antiques Roadshow.

Cabaret performers Kit and McConnel

Cabaret performers Kit and McConnel - Credit: Archant

Festival chairman Alison Croose is pleased with the response from the public. 'We are delighted that the broad appeal of the programme is reflected in good ticket sales,' she said. 'The popularity of pianist John Lill was demonstrated when tickets for his recital sold out three days after the box office opened.

'The final concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jubilee Quartet's visit to Park House, Sandringham, were also early sell-outs. We expect more by the time the Festival begins.

'There is always a tingle of excitement with the first chords of music in the opening concert. This year is set to be a stirring occasion with a great programme by the prize-winning Fairey Brass Band.'

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One of the other big in-demand tickets is for the visit of number one best-selling classical guitarist Craig Ogden, who returns to the festival on July 23 with The London Tango Quintet for a stunning evening of Argentinian music and more.

Another ever-popular concert is the King's Lynn Festival Chorus. The 100-strong chorus will be performing Brahms' Requiem at the Corn Exchange on Sunday July 20. They will sing the London version of the requiem to commemorate the centenary this summer of the start of the Great War and the tragic loss of those who died in the conflict.

Music director Tom Appleton described the work as 'a real tour de force'. He said: 'From the exciting, high energy fugues which show the marvels of living, to the reflective mourning of Brahms' own mother, this hour-long piece takes the performer and listener through a full range of emotions.

'This is a Requiem for the people. It shows the huge complexities of grief, but also reminds us to cling on to hope,' he said.

Festival artistic director Ambrose Miller said the programme of more than two dozen events being staged during the festival features musicians and orchestras which maintain the Festival's tradition of excellence.

He highlighted The Orchestra of St John's - which will be at Lynn Minster (St Margaret's) on Tuesday July 15 - as an example of this.

The orchestra will be conducted by its founder John Lubbock whose aim is that they should 'not be exclusive but the music we perform should be for everyone'.

Mr Miller said the OSJ programme would include Tchaikovsky's 'wonderfully romantic' Serenade for Strings. 'The work will be fascinating to hear alongside Mendelssohn's youthful Violin Concerto performed by outstanding young violinist Mathilde Milwidsky,' Mr Miller said.

On Thursday July 17 the Navarra String Quartet, described by Mr Miller as 'one of the best young string quartets in the world' who have played at many major international venues, will be at St George's Guildhall.

Their international reputation is especially appropriate as they will present the Ruth Fermoy Memorial Concert in memory of the festival's founder.

The musicians are from England and the Netherlands and met at the Royal Northern College of Music. Their programme will include Schubert's famous quartet Death and the Maiden.

A special feature this year is a 'Charles Burney Day' on July 19, honouring the 200th anniversary of the death of the 18th-century writer-composer, whose residence in the town produced cultural echoes which are still being felt in the present day.

This year's programme also includes some innovative free concerts for those who fancy a 'classical taster'. The 'Buy A Beer Concerts' feature the Jubilee String Quartet on July 21 (2.15pm) at the Bank House Hotel in King Staithe Square, Renaissance wind band Blondel on Tuesday Market Place on July 22 at 1pm (in the Duke's Head if poor weather), cellist Oscar Alabau at the Farmer's Arms, Knights' Hill, South Wootton, on July 24 (1.30pm) and the Eblana String Trio at the Rathskeller Bar, Hanse House, on July 25 (1pm).

Jazz-lovers will definitely want to check out the July 18 concert featuring the National Youth Jazz Orchestra with special guest Clare Teal, while the oodles of Antiques Roadshow fans out there can hear expert Lars Tharp giving a talk on 'china mania' on July 21. Another fascinating evening is in prospect on July 16 when broadcaster and writer Nicholas Crane talks about how maps have changed our world.

And there'll be laughter galore on July 25, as Alison explains. 'Comedy cabaret duo Kit and McConnel are promising strong local flavour in their original topical songs,' she said. 'Having much enjoyed their special brand of entertainment last year in Suffolk I am looking forward to another highly entertaining evening!'

And with film screenings, exhibitions, festival walks, a packed programme of fringe events and more, organisers are confident that there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

The 64th King's Lynn Festival runs from this Sunday until July 26. More information on Call the box office 01553 764864 or the Festival office on 01553 767557.

The Brilliant Burneys: Lynn's 18th-century 'popstar', and the writer who inspired Jane Austen - see Weekend magazine on Saturday.

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