by Gill Howells
The annual mixed Arts Festival that takes place in Beaumaris will soon be with us. This will be the 23rd year and the festival will run from Tuesday, May 20th to Monday, May 26th.
It will cover its usual wide range of events from small-scale, but rewarding, recitals to a concert that combines the Welsh Chamber Orchestra with a jazz band.
An exciting event that will prove popular is one combining music and words performed by a very talented family, the Sussex Family Woolf.
The group is made up of Mr Gabriel Woolf, the well-known actor, Mrs Felicity Woolf, aka Dame Felicity Lott, the eminent soprano and their daughter, Miss Emily Woolf (soprano and reader).
To keep them under control is Mr Terence Allbright (friend and pianist). Their material ranges from words by writers such as Joyce Grenfell and John Betjeman , to music by Brahms and Noel Coward.
They say that variety is the spice of life; the Woolf Family will certainly prove it!
That is not all that will be found in the Festival’s treasure chest. As usual, the Young Artist recitals will bring a range of fine new talents in the world of music, with singers and instrumentalists.
Another family appears here, making a second visit to the Festival, namely the outstanding young Japanese sisters, Asagi and Makoto Nakata (piano and violin), returning by popular request.
Last year’s festival opened with a much enjoyed organ recital, and this year sees another such concert, this time given by Stephen Carleston, playing the organ of St. Mary’s Parish Church.
His programme includes works by Bach and Tchaikovsky, but he is also renowned as an improviser. His recital will therefore end with an improvisation on a theme submitted from the audience.
Words play an important role in the Festival. There will be a recital, “The Way We Live”, by the Poetry Trio; this is always a much enjoyed event as the Trio create programmes of great diversity and interest.
Poetry also appears in a recital by the poet, Peter Finch, who will read from his work which is riotously inventive in both language and poetic form, moving and often downright funny.
There will be a talk by Dr Maurice Lock on climate change, a topic that concerns us all.
Dr David Evans of the Music Department of Bangor University is an expert on 17th century vocal music.
Dr Evans will speak on the subject of “Welsh Choral Music in the Seventeenth Century”, and will be assisted by the Madrigal Singers of the very active School of Music from Bangor University.
One event that should stir memories is called “With a Little Bit of Luck”. This tells the story of the life of the great Stanley Holloway, from his concert party days to his involvement in the Ealing Comedies. David Sealey performs as narrator and as the man himself.
The Carducci String Quartet, a group of highly talented musicians, will perform music by Haydn, Janacek and Beethoven. These performers are prizewinners in seven international competitions and are recognised as one of Europe’s top young string quartets.
No festival would be complete without its orchestral concerts, and this year the Welsh Chamber Orchestra under its conductor (and the Festival’s Artistic Director) Anthony Hose, provides two.
Its first concert will include the premiere of a work by Welsh composer, Geraint Lewis, entitled “Cantre’r Gwaelod”; this involves not only the orchestra but a choir (Cor Seiriol) and baritone soloist (Jeremy Huw Williams).
The second orchestral concert also involves something special. It is called “From Vienna to Broadway” and features the collaboration of a jazz group, the James Evans Incredible String Four.
On that same evening, the jazz group, having taken a short break, will round off the evening with a concert called, not surprisingly, “Jazz Later”.
That is not the Festival’s only jazz evening, as it will end on Bank Holiday Monday with a concert by Billy Thompson (violin) and his band, with an exciting new project with a gypsy flavour.
The visual arts are not neglected, and this year’s exhibition in the Leisure Centre features the work of local artist, Helen Lopez.
Helen's strong and colourful paintings feature the themes of Landscape, Time and Environment, inspired by conversations with the composer, Geraint Lewis.
As in previous years the skills of North Wales Craftworkers and those of the members of the Woodturners Association of Gwynedd can be enjoyed in the Festival Craft Fair and the Woodturners exhibition.
Postal booking is now open; orders should go to the Festival Booking Office, c/o The Bulkeley Hotel, Castle Street, Beaumaris, LL58 8AW.
Orders or enquiries may also be made through 01248 714678 . From May 5th, the Festival Box Office will be open from 10.30 – 4.30, Mondays to Saturdays at the Bulkeley Hotel, Beaumaris (tel. 01248 810415). Details of the Festival may be seen on its website: www.beaumarisfestival.co.uk
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