More than 200 saxophonists launch Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Sax appeal was used to launch the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, with more than 200 saxophonists assembling for a huge fanfare to get the fun under way.

Acclaimed British saxophonist and composer Andy Sheppard gathered saxophonists from across Norfolk for his Saxophone Massive performance outside The Forum in Norwich.

Beneath glorious blue skies the musicians - professionals and novices, young and old, came together to perform for free in Millennium Plain at 5pm today (Friday).

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the performance, which began with the crowd craning their necks to see lone saxophonists playing from the roof of The Forum and from windows in neighbouring buildings.

They were then joined by Mr Sheppard and the other assembled players, performing in the shadow of the Forum and St Peter Mancroft.

The crowd clapped along and there was generous applause at the end of the 30 minute set, as the musicians marched away.

The Sax Massive premiered in Bristol to launch the new lighting for the Clifton Suspension Bridge and since then has performed at the London Jazz Festival and throughout Europe.

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Julia Harris, 29, who lives off Bluebell Road in Norwich, said: 'I enjoyed it. There were a lot of them and I said to my friend we'd never see that many saxophonists in one place again!

'I found out about it through the festival programme. I'm planning to head for the free events and to the tea dance on Sunday.'

Netty Newton, 35, who lives off Ipswich Road in Norwich, said: 'When it first started and we heard the music we thought it was recorded. It was only when we noticed them up on the roof that we realised people were perfoming. It was good fun.'

Organisers of the festival are predicting a bumper year, with 360,000 tickets already sold for the programme of events.

Artists from Norwich to Cuba and as far afield as Australia will be bringing their creations to the city over the next fortnight.

The streets will take on a carnival atmosphere tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday in the May Daze when acrobats, musicians and many others perform.

For full listings and details of the programme and events across the fortnight, go to Book online, by phone on 01603 766400 or you can buy tickets in person at the Norwich Theatre Royal box office.

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