Retro act Carwash
Bury St Edmunds Festival 2009
By Andrew Woodger
West Suffolk's multi-faceted, multi-venue music and arts fortnight enters its 24th year. BBC Suffolk is the media partner for the climactic concerts in Bury St Edmunds' Abbey Gardens. The Festival runs 8-24 May.
"The Festival is a wonderful opportunity to get out and see some superb live performances close to home at reasonable prices. We have included lots of new things as well as old favourites to attract an even wider audience this year," said Festival Manager Nick Wells.
It all starts on Friday 8 May at 6.30pm with the completely free Beat The Retreat ceremony on Angel Hill performed by the Band of the Parachute Regiment. The free entertainment continues with Swamp Circus and into Saturday with Street Theatre artists.
A quick selection of highlights includes folk duo Show Of Hands, opera The Barber of Seville, jazz singer Stacey Kent, former LibDem leader Paddy Ashdown and poet Wendy Cope at the Theatre Royal. Other venues include St Edmundsbury Cathedral, St Mary's Church, Ickworth House, the Athenaeum, Corn Exchange and Angel Hotel Vaults.
There's also a varied film programme including Mama Mia and Dirty Dancing at the drive-in in Rougham Airfield as well as the Kite Runner and The Counterfeiters at the Hollywood Film Cinema.
BBC Suffolk is media partner for the grand finale of three concerts in the Abbey Gardens. On Friday 22 it's 70s and 80s Night with the Secret Police, WhamDuran and Carwash, Saturday 23 has 'folk' acts the Peatbog Faeries and Terrafolk while the Festival ends on Sunday 24 with the Classical Proms night featuring Rebecca Bottone and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
There are also art and photography exhibitions at Moyse's Hall Museum, St John's Church, the Art Gallery and the Cathedral Gallery.
The Fat Cat Comedy Club has enticed Latitude regular Robin Ince to its stand-up night while there's regular theatre with Jerome K Jerome's classic Three Men In A Boat at the Theatre Royal. Rougham Airfield's Kite Festival is also part of the Festival.
Last year around 20,000 people attended the festival and Nick Wells said they're expecting similar figures in 2009: "It's trying to appeal to as many people as possible. One of the beauties of Bury is the mixture.
"It see it as a recipe and I want the ingredients to include an orchestra, a string quartet and something populist for the Abbey Gardens. But I'm looking for new acts and I'm particularly excited about introducing Matthew Sharp who's doing Johnny's Midnight Goggles. He's a cellist but he combines it with singing, acting and telling stories."
Nick spends the whole year getting the bill together for St Edmundsbury Borough Council:
"It's a mixture of things. I'm inundated with emails, CDs etc. but also I go out to places such as Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, the Edinburgh Fringe and I'm already aware of acts such as Terrafolk and Stacey Kent who are regular visitors to Suffolk.
"But I'm also putting on local performers such as jazz singer Fiona Kerr at the Corn Exchange. She's also doing a 'jazz train' taking in four different restaurants in the course of an evening. Also songwriter Ivan Wilson, who was last year's winner of the Mason's Arms open-mic contest will be appearing. We don't know who the winner of this year's event is yet, but they'll be appearing as well."
BBC Suffolk is looking for reviewers of shows for this website, so if you want a pair of free tickets (but no payment!) email us here.
For full details of what's on visit the Bury Festival website or ring the box office on 01284 769505.
last updated: 07/05/2009 at 09:04