Yoxford dances into summer

The Yoxford Arts Festival has grown during the last ten years into a thriving community event. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke discovers that this year dance has big role to play.

What makes a festival, a festival, is the ability to programme a series of events in a defined time-frame that the audience would not see elsewhere. A festival brings something new and exciting to a place, it enhances the cultural experience on offer to the area hosting the event.

Where Yoxford has got it right is that it concentrates on being a community event. It’s very much about providing a cultural experience for the local people rather than going after hordes of holiday-makers and incomes. Visitors are welcomed, of course, but they are not the principal audience for which the festival is held.

This is the seventh festival to be held in ten years – which points to the fact that there have been hic-cups along the way but as always that’s part of the learning experience and a reflection that the organisers are busy working people with careers to maintain.

The other factor which makes the Yoxford Arts Festival special is that it is just as much about doing as it is about sitting and watching. This is a festival that thrives on workshops and audience participation. Arts director Anna Noakes believes that the secret of enjoying the arts is getting involved in the arts.


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“It’s all about tapping into those untapped reserves of creativity – whether it’s playing an instrument, enjoying a dance or taking up painting.”

The Festival also schedules a host of events for children and families which gives the community a feeling of ownership.

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This year the workshops for children and adults will include a youth orchestra, printing, sculpture and renaissance music as well as events like a ramble, literary lunch, art & sculpture exhibitions and a dancing display.

Anna Noakes, guest principal flute with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, said that this year’s line-up once again brought together a diverse collection of professional musicians and artists to supply four days of music and dance.

Last year concentrated on voices and vocals – this year dance leaps into the spotlight.

The event explodes into life on Thursday August 19 with Cuban Lift who are bringing dance music from the Andes from Abbey Road Studios to Yoxford’s St Peter’s Church. The group includes Tony Hinnigan guitar & charango, Catherine Musker, bass, Anna Noakes & Julie Murray flutes & pan pipes & Gary Kettel Latin percussion.

Jazz has always played an important part in the festival and the following night The Nigel Hitchcock Quartet with Mark Nightingale. Jazz saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock has performed with such stars as Tom Jones, Wet Wet Wet, Ray Charles and Robbie Williams. At Yoxford he leads a star studded band featuring the brilliant trombonist Mark Nightingale, Laurence Cottle, bass, Graham Harvey, keyboards and Ian Thomas, drums. The concert features pieces from their highly acclaimed latest CD release Out of the Box.

On Saturday August 21 folk legends John Tams and Barry Coope are performing at St Peter’s at 7.30pm. John Tams was described by Mojo magazine as ‘one of the ultimate British songwriters’. A member of the Albion Band and Home Service he is perhaps best known for his work at the National Theatre and as Rifleman Daniel Hagman in the television series Sharpe. He is a five times winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He cowrote the score for all the Sharpe films alongside Dominic Muldowney.

In the early 1980s, Barry Coope was a member of innovative English folk band Muckram Wakes. Later he played with the folk supergroup Blue Murder. Around 1990 Barry Coope helped form Coope, Boyes & Simpson, a British vocal folk trio.

Earlier in the day Yoxford Village Hall hosts the Dancers of the Future soloists from the Saxted School of Dance will be performing ballet, jazz, lyrical and contemporary dance works while at the Satis House Hotel arts broadcaster Humphrey Burton will be hosting a literary lunch talking about his work with the BBC and ITV on such ground-breaking shows as Monitor, Omnibus, Arena and Aquarius.

Then at 3pm Ian Terry will be running a Renaissance Music Workshop at the Freedom Works venue – it is open to all ages will help people with grade four music and above play Tudor court music.

On Sunday lunchtime Freedom Works will be staging Bubbles and Canapes – a concert of operatic arias by mezzo soprano Georgina Murray with pianist Belinda Jones. It will includes works by Handel, Faure, Rossini and arias from Bizet’s Carmen.

The festival closes at 7.30pm at St Peter’s Church with The President’s Concert featuring The Locrian Ensemble. Special guest performer Pamela Thorby has been invited back after her show-stopping performances last year to play Vivaldi’s Concerto for Sopranino Recorder in C Major RV443 and Telemann’s Concerto for flute, recorder, strings and continuo in E minor with The Locrian Ensemble and a selection from her latest album Amonite.

The Locrian Ensemble features some of the leading string soloists in London and has established an enviable reputation for its recordings and live performances. This concert features Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with soloist Rita Manning, violin, and also the world premiere of a work for flute and strings by Elgar Howarth with soloist Anna Noakes, flute. The concert also features Fusion of Folk/Jazz a work for Pamela Thorby on recorder and the renowned percussionist Gary Kettel.

The Yoxford Arts Festival runs from August 19-22. Brochures are available from various points around the village. More information and tickets can be booked online at www.yoxfest.co.uk

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