Yoxford: Top performers flock to village’s annual arts festival

It’s one of the best kept secrets on Suffolk’s festival calendar; but for those who want to see international calibre musicians and artists in intimate settings, Yoxford Arts Festival is a must visit.

Now in its ninth year, it was founded by Anna Noakes, Gary Kettle and Ian Terry with the idea of bringing top artists to the small village.

This year’s event – which runs from today to Sunday – continues in the same vein with a mix of acclaimed performers as well as introducing young and upcoming talent, traditional and new compositions, talks, exhibitions and children’s workshops.

“It was born in the Griffin pub really and then grew and grew; it used to be ten days long but we’ve reduced it to four but it’s jam packed,” promises artistic director Anna.

“Our connection with our visitors has always been important; we’ve built up our audience with that in mind and the fact they come to hear specific people. They’ve always supported the new stuff we’ve done too.

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“This year I was introduced to Ian Balfour, this composer who’s really remained undiscovered in Walberswick all of his life. Perhaps better known as a gem historian and for his book Famous Diamonds his work includes nine operas, six symphonies and numerous orchestral, vocal, chamber and instrumental pieces.

“His music is abstract, he’s completely and utterly uncompromising. In the last concert of the festival we’re making a special slot to world premiere two of his pieces, so that will be something new that nobody’s ever heard before.”

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The festival starts today with a cream tea and talk by Ian called Satis House and the Mystery of Clarissa Ricketts, an intriguing true tale of greed, gambling and death.

Tonight it’s two for the price of one with a concert featuring new young Irish, Celtic folk band Ranagri and festival favourites INCA who will take you on an musical journey through native South American folk music with pan pipes galore.

Tomorrw, percussionist Gary Kettel and his prize-winning students from Trinity Laban Conservatiore of Music will play a popular repertoire including Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Saint-Sa�ns’ Carnival of the animals. The exciting new arrangement of the 1812 by Gary also includes the magnificent Bells of St Peter’s Church subsituting for cannon fire.

Saturday features Serpentine Fire playing the hits of 70s-80s supergroup Earth Wind and Fire.

The following day enjoy enjoy Bubbles and Canap�s with exciting dance Music from Brazil featuring Anna on flute, Grant McFarlane-Dowse on guitar and Simon Whittaker on Brazilian percussion.

Rounding off the festival is the President’s Concert starring internationally renowned mezzo soprano Yvonnne Howard singing Strauss’ Four Last Songs, a festival premiere arrangement by Hinnigan, preceded by Ravel’s septet Introduction and Allegro and in finale Brahms’ D major Serenade played by an augmented Locrian Ensemble.

Other highlights include Maija McDougal - who was Anna’s very first flute teacher - with an exhibition of and illustrated talk on Bromoil Photography, Yoxford

Landscapes by John Williams, Flight Installation by Sue Harrison, a children’s samba percussion workshop followed by a performance at the church that the audience can join in with and etchings by Joan Hodgkiss who’s also holding a children’s art workshop in the village hall.

The ever popular Literary Lunch is already sold out.

“The standing of the musicians, the artists, is international; the atmosphere, surroundings and the welcome you’ll receive is one of something that’s very small and definitely very inviting. We’ve made the most of our extrordinary village.”

Venues include Satis House, St Peter’s Church, Freedom Works and the village hall. For more details visit www.yoxfest.co.uk

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