Nick’s Picks for this year’s Bury Festival

Roger McGough and Friends who will be appearing at Bury Festival 2018. Photo: Nick Wright/Bury Festi

Roger McGough and Friends who will be appearing at Bury Festival 2018. Photo: Nick Wright/Bury Festival - Credit: Archant

The Bury Festival opens this weekend. Nick Wells, the festival director, talks to us about the shows that he is particularly excited about

Bury St Edmunds Festival director Nick Wells.

Bury St Edmunds Festival director Nick Wells. - Credit: Mark Bullimore

For me to pick out a handful of top picks is the hardest thing I have to do as I genuinely want to see everything that I have programmed. I confess to having been particularly excited that I had booked Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Benjamin Zephaniah and as these have both sold out it seems I wasn’t alone in that excitement!

So, aside from those two events… these are my top choices for this year’s Bury Festival

Ute Lemper – I am thrilled that we will be welcoming Ute Lemper to the festival. Ute made her name and won awards as Sally Bowles in the original Paris production of Cabaret and then as Velma Kelly in the revival of Chicago in both London and New York. Renowned for her interpretation of the work of Kurt Weill this is a rare occasion to see someone of such world-wide renown in Bury St Edmunds.

Aled Jones

Aled Jones - Credit: Archant

Bach B Minor Mass – Academy of Ancient Music are no strangers to Bury St Edmunds and regularly appear to large audiences at The Apex. For this concert, they are teaming up with the award-winning choir, Tenebrae, to perform Bach’s B Minor Mass….a piece that has been described as one of the greatest musical compositions in history…… how could this not be a must-see concert?


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Aled Jones – I feel as though I have grown up with Aled Jones! When I was young I remember his success as a teenager in the charts with “Walking in the Air” and he has gone on to become a very familiar face on our television screens as a presenter on shows such as Songs of Praise, Cash in the Attic and Escape to the Country as well as regularly presenting on Radio 2 and Classic FM. In this show at the Apex he will duet with his younger self and I’m delighted that Bury’s own Voice Squad, who are simply fantastic, will also be performing during the evening.

Oz & Armonico who will be appearing at the Bury Festival 2018. Photo: Andy Gray/Bury Festival

Oz & Armonico who will be appearing at the Bury Festival 2018. Photo: Andy Gray/Bury Festival - Credit: Archant

Sir Willard White & Brodsky Quartet – The Brodsky Quartet are no strangers to Bury St Edmunds and they have performed a number of times at The Apex with concerts that are always imaginative and of the very highest quality. They are joined for this concert by Sir Willard White, one of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars around, for a stroll through the American Song Book. I can’t wait!

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Roger McGough & Little Machine – Described as the “patron saint of poetry” by Carol Ann Duffy ”, Roger McGough is one of Britain’s best-loved poets for both adults and children. He is going to be joined at the Theatre Royal by the band Little Machine who will be setting his poems to music. My challenge is how I am going to be able to see both him and Sir Willard White as they are both on the same evening…..I need to have a word with the person who did the programming…..!

The Brodsky Quartet which is appearing the Bury Festival 2018. Photo: Bury Festival

The Brodsky Quartet which is appearing the Bury Festival 2018. Photo: Bury Festival - Credit: Archant

Oz Clarke & Armonico Consort – This is a return visit by wine expert (and former chorister) Oz Clarke alongside the Armonico Consort with a new show that will take us on a journey of wine tasting, witty tales and gorgeous baroque music. I only caught the very beginning and the very end of the performance on their previous visit, but clearly mixing wine tasting and the very best in music was a winner with the audience as they emerged from the Athenaeum with smiling faces and slightly flushed cheeks. On that basis this has just got to be one of my top picks!

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