Rick Wakeman, Suffolk films and a guided tour on sheep - all at the Bury St Edmunds Festival

The popular Bury St Edmunds Festival is back in May, bringing a broad range of music and arts to audiences.

A film about Suffolk love stories, a history walk focusing on sheep and world-renowned musician Rick Wakeman feature as part of a diverse line-up for this year’s Bury St Edmunds Festival.

Organisers have just announced the programme for the 32nd Bury Festival, a 10-day celebration of music and arts across 13 venues from Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 28.

Topping the star line-up include classical guitarist John Williams (May 22, the Apex), virtuoso flautist James Galway (May 28, the Apex), one of the world’s greatest string quartets, the Takács Quartet (May 21, the Apex), Clare Teal and her Mini Big Band (May 20, the Apex) and Harvey & The New Wallbangers (May 27, the Apex).

Mr Wakeman, one of Suffolk’s own, is also a highlight of this year’s programme with his ‘Piano Portraits’ concert at the Apex on May 25.

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The keyboard player, songwriter and broadcaster gave a “very moving” tribute on BBC Radio 2 to David Bowie who died last year, said festival director Nick Wells.

He was so shocked by the reaction to his performance of Life On Mars he was inspired to release an album on piano music.

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Piano Portraits features instrumental versions of hits he originally performed on (Space Oddity, Morning Has Broken), other hits (I’m Not In Love, Stairway To Heaven) and some of his favourite classical pieces (Berceuse, Clair de Lune).

The festival will open with a bang on May 19 with an evening of Latin music performed by the Edwin Sanz Salsa Orchestra.

Voted the ‘Best Latin’ act by Glastonbury Festival, Mr Wells said it would be a “really, really special gig”. “It should be a really good night and a great way to open the festival,” he said.

As well as music, the broad range of 59 festival events include street theatre, films, exhibitions and guided walks.

The tour Yarns on May 20, setting off from Angel Hill, will explain the importance of sheep to the region.

The festival programme says: “This tour will enlighten you with tales and ‘yarns’ about the wool trade and who, where and why Bury is the town it is today; a vibrant tourist attraction and a very desirable place to live and work.”

Also celebrating the local area, Abbeygate Cinema has compiled an “incredible” programme of Suffolk and East Anglian-themed films.

With Love From...Suffolk is a feature film set within the county that celebrates love in all its guises.

It is said to be “not just a funny and tender exploration of relationships - it’s also a love letter to our magnificent county”.

Producers Matthew McGuchan and Julien Mery will introduce the screening on May 23 and take a question and answer session at the end.

The film Akenfield, directed by Sir Peter Hall in 1974, was filmed in and around Charsfield, near Wickham Market, and the people of the village had the starring roles.

It has been digitised thanks to a British Film Institute fund and will be shown at the Abbeygate Cinema on May 19.

Silent cinema has also made its way into the festival programme with a celebration of 100 years since the creation of Charlie Chaplin’s masterpieces known as the Mutual Comedies.

Set pieces will be shown at the Apex on May 27 while Matthew Trusler on violin and Ashley Wass on piano perform specially-curated soundtracks.

Mr Wells said: “We are delighted to announce the line up for Bury Festival 2017, which once again combines star names with local and regional talent, young and old.

“As always, the Bury Festival has a been a joy to put together and covers a broad range of styles from classical to jazz, folk, contemporary and world music.

“Alongside artists who will be appearing at the festival for the first time, we are also delighted to welcome back performers including John Williams, the Aurora Orchestra, Clare Teal and The Tallis Scholars who, over the years have become like friends to the festival and are always firm favourites with our audiences.

“What began in the early 1980s as a series of concerts over the three weekends, has grown into a wonderful annual celebration of music and the arts, which always creates a wonderful buzz and joyous feeling in the town, during those special 10 days in May.”

Festival brochures are available from the Apex and other locations around the town. Also, for a full line-up see here.

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