Bury Festival’s line-up goes from Abba to Zephaniah
- Credit: Archant
The Bury Festival is one of the cornerstones of Suffolk’s cultural calendar. Arts editor Andrew Clarke speaks to festival director Nick Wells and takes a look at the treats in store during this year’s 10 day extravaganza.
Bury St Edmunds annual 10 day celebration of arts and culture The Bury Festival has announced a wide ranging line-up which includes music ranging from symphonies to reggae, comedy, photography, poetry and a mini-film festival marking the centenary of women’s suffrage.
Festival director Nick Wells said that each year the ambition of the festival increases and this year they had 59 events taking place in 14 venues across the historic market town.
After last year’s record turn-out he is hoping that the festival will attract not Bury residents but also people from across Suffolk and from outside the county.
He says that the reputation of the Bury Festival has helped Suffolk become an important cultural destination and that cultural tourism now forms a vital part of the economy.
“This year we see the Bury Festival as a celebration of entertainment from reggae to rhymes,” says Nick. “Now in its 33rd year, Bury Festival has grown into one of the region’s best-loved music and arts festivals, bringing thousands of visitors to the town each year.”
With star acts including national musical treasures, Aled Jones and Jools Holland, the Grammy award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, literary legend Benjamin Zephaniah and 80s chart toppers UB40, the festival will run for 10 days between Friday May 18 to Sunday May 27.
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Nick Wells said that the strength of the programme each year was based on the fact they carefully constructed a programme which blended star names with local and regional talent, young and old.
“Bury St Edmunds is a vibrant town with plenty of arts and entertainment on offer throughout the year and the festival draws a lot of that together in a wonderful concentration and celebration of activity.
“It has been a joy to put together such a variety of world-renowned musical acts from classical through to swing, reggae and even a slice of 70s pop”
This year’s Festival line-up includes Berlin’s Ute Lemper, ‘70s superstar Gilbert O’Sullivan and the return of the stunning Academy of Ancient Music.
“This year the festival is delighted to be working with OEP Live! to bring large-scale outdoor gigs back to the festival in the picturesque setting of Nowton Park.”
Alongside Nowton Park and The Apex concert hall, in true Bury Festival style, the festival will take-over the town, with a wide variety of venues including The Athenaeum, Theatre Royal, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Unitarian Meeting House, Moyse’s Hall Museum, Abbeygate Cinema, Abbey Gardens, St Mary’s Church, the Hunter Club, Station Hill Social Club, All Saints Church and St John’s Church. In celebration of our historic town there will also be a number of festival walks exploring many of the iconic sites and stories of Bury St Edmunds.
Nick Wells adds: “We enjoy teaming up with other promoters and venues to expand the festival; this includes the Abbeygate Cinema who have once again put a great season of films together. Marking 100 years of votes for women, the season of films celebrates strong and inspiring female characters on screen and behind the camera.”
The series of 10 films includes the 1964 children’s classic Mary Poppins, Nora Ephron’s Silkwood, the 1983 true story of nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood, and the 2016 inspiring story of three African American female NASA mathematicians, Hidden Figures.
The festival will also celebrate local talent including an exciting collaboration between Aled Jones and the young talent of Bury St Edmunds’ Voice Squad as well as performances from the St Edmundsbury Singers, The Edmund Octet and Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra.
Music is not the only art form on display in the plethora of brilliant acts, the hilarious Roger McGough sets his wit and wordplay to the musical sound of Little Machine and direct from Sadler’s Wells the festival welcomes The Tap Pack for a cocktail of high-energy tap dancing entertainment.
Festival brochures are now available from The Apex and other locations in Bury St Edmunds. A full line-up of events can be found online at www.buryfestival.co.uk
Tickets will go on sale from today.
Fri 18 May: Ladysmith Black Mambazo;
For over fifty years Ladysmith Black Mambazo have sung powerful, uplifting songs that emote the struggles and passion of South Africa. Nelson Mandela called Ladysmith “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors”.
Sat 19 May: Black Dyke Brass Band
As well as being the most recorded band in the world with over 350 recordings to date, Black Dyke Band is also the most successful contesting band in the world having won the European Championships 13 times, the British Open no fewer than 30 times and the National Championships of Great Britain 23 times.
Sat 19 May: Aled Jones
As one of the most prolific entertainers of the past three decades, Aled Jones continues to be in enormous demand. Since his first album Diolch â Chân was released in 1983, Aled has gone on to release 30 albums selling a staggering eight million records to date. In 2016 he achieved great success with his ‘One Voice’ albums making him the best-selling classical singer of the year.
In this concert Aled will duet with his younger self - his baritone voice of today singing with his tenor voice of 30 years ago and accompanied by guitar. For part of the concert Aled will be joined on stage by the young talent that make up Bury St Edmunds’ own Voice Squad.
Sun 20 May: Superhero The Musical, National Youth Music Theatre
Sammy Simpson just wants to be normal but there’s one thing stopping him. He has the super power to turn everything he knows into a musical. The minute Sammy starts dancing, singing, or whistling, so does everyone else and his parents have had enough. It’s time for Sammy to do what all other super powered children must do, go to Hero High, a school for supernaturally gifted children. Meanwhile, across the horizon, the evil Miss Menace and her sidekick Plop are plotting to take over Hero High. Sammy has just one chance to prove that he is a hero - and that it’s not so bad being different.
Mon 21 May: Bach B minor Mass with Academy of Ancient Music and Tenebrae
The Mass in B minor was one of Bach’s last compositions, completed in the year before his death and has been widely hailed as one of the greatest compositions in musical history. For tonight’s concert two renowned groups come together to perform this magnificent work.
Mon 21 May: The Tap Pack
Coming straight from a run at Sadler’s Wells, with their slick suits, sharp wit and songs from Sinatra to Ed Sheeran, Australia’s finest tap dancing performers are a cocktail of pure entertainment, serving up classics with a twist, in a high-energy, hour-long show with a live four-piece band.
Tues 22 May: Emma Johnson: Clarinet Goes to Town
Swing has always fascinated Emma Johnson because it’s such exciting music to play on the clarinet. She grew up admiring the recordings of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and as a young musician Emma was lucky to collaborate many times with the great jazz duo, Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine.
Programme includes music by Ravel, Debussy, Dvorak, Bernstein, Joplin, Prima, Goodman and much more.
Tues 22 May: Oz Clarke with the Armonico Consort
Enjoy a second sip of this entertaining programme of wine and music as the UK’s best-loved wine critic, Oz Clarke and Armonico Consort take you from the British Isles to Mozart’s Vienna through an incredible journey of wine tasting, witty tales and gorgeous baroque music. You might even discover that it was the Brits who invented champagne!
Weds 23 May: The Life and Times of Benjamin Zephaniah
He befriended Nelson Mandela, fought in the 1980s race riots and recorded radical and relevant reggae music with Bob Marley’s former band. Benjamin Zephaniah was unable to read and write at school but became one of Britain’s most remarkable poets. And now he’s back with his first tour in eight years, to coincide with his remarkable autobiography, The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah. In a compelling and inspiring show, Zephaniah will explain how he fought injustice and discrimination to lead a remarkable life, while sharing a selection of favourite stories and poems. Signed copies of The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah will be available after the show.
Thurs 24 May: Ute Lemper: Last Tango in Berlin
World renowned chanteuse Ute Lemper makes a welcome return to the UK stage performing her celebrated show ‘Last Tango in Berlin – The Best of Ute’.
The journey starts in Berlin with Ute’s root repertoire of Brecht and Weill and the Berlin Cabaret songs. It continues into the poetic universe of the French chansons by Brel, Piaf, Ferre and further to the Argentinian world of Tango by Astor Piazzolla. Ute walks through the backstreets of Paris, Berlin, New York and Buenos Aires and lets ancient ghosts with new faces tell the stories of the lost, of love, survival, passion, dreams, societies, the past and the future. Ute also performs her own songs to connect / yesterday with / today through her own stories about these places and about life.
Fri 25 May: Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra
Featuring Gilson Lavis with special guest Marc Almond and Guest Vocalists Ruby Turner & Louise Marshall. Jools Holland needs very little introduction and, with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, is in great demand all around the world. Joined by some very special guests this promises to be a great way to kick off a weekend of gigs at Nowton Park.
Sat 26 May: Gilbert O’Sullivan
One of the industry’s true legends, Gilbert O’Sullivan dominated the charts in the 70s. Enjoy every facet of his history as he brings his new live show to Nowton Park, with this special matinee picnic concert, including classics such as Alone Again Naturally, Nothing Rhymed, Clair Matrimony and Get Down, as well as songs from the forthcoming album.
Sat 26 May: Brodsky Quartet with Willard White
The brilliant Brodsky Quartet are no strangers to Bury St Edmunds and it is always a delight to invite them back. Their imagination and creativity has led them to collaborate with a wide range of musicians and tonight’s concert sees them come together with one of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years, Sir Willard White.
Sat 26 May: Roger McGough & Little Machine
Hilarious and surreal, Roger McGough is a poet of many voices. Menace and melancholy there may be, but with plenty of McGough’s characteristic wit and wordplay too. His new show with Walter, Steve & Chris of Little Machine features a fine selection of vintage, classic & surprising poems set to music.
Sat 26 May: Abba Mania
Come dressed to party and dig out your platform heels and 70s flares and join us to get down to all the Abba hits with the world’s number one touring Abba production - ABBA MANIA.
Sun 27 May: UB40
Starting life in 1978 when a group of young friends in Birmingham came together, UB40 went on to achieve massive success.
They have been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album four times, and in 1984 were nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. They have had more than 50 singles in the UK Singles chart and have sold over 70 million records worldwide.
Bookings can be made online at www.buryfestival.co.uk by calling the box office on 01284 758000 or by visiting The Apex, in Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds.