Monday, 3 April 2017

NEWBURY SPRING FESTIVAL: Bollywood to Hollywood and Beyond 6–20 May 2017

Whether you love a bit of Bollywood or if Hollywood is more your scene, or if your musical preferences lie somewhere else entirely, Newbury Spring Festival 2017 is sure to have a show for you!

Newbury Spring Festival brings to Newbury and West Berkshire a fabulous fortnight of world-class music in Newbury and its neighbouring villages, with over 40 events in venues ranging from Newbury Corn Exchange to Highclere Castle and from village churches to Lord Lloyd Webber’s private chapel.

Now in its 39th year, the aim of the Festival is to bring excellent, new and innovative work from around the world to the local area, creating opportunities for young people, existing and new audiences to enjoy the arts.

The Festival is renowned for bringing together an exciting mix of musicians and musical entertainment. Every year international symphony orchestras, ensembles and soloists rub shoulders with jazz legends, choirs and children’s entertainers, and this year brings together a particularly exciting programme, with something to suit every musical taste.

So – Bollywood, Hollywood or something else entirely? On 19 May Bollywood Brass Band delights with six hot horns and four funky drummers, blending hot Hindi film hits with riotous Indian wedding music and Punjabi beats for a uniquely ‘London’ take on this popular music genre. On 20 May Hollywood comes to town in the shape of Matt Ford and his show, ‘Close to You’, an evening of songs inspired by Sinatra’s legendary collaboration with the Hollywood String Quartet. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra perform on the opening and closing nights respectively, whilst versatile singing group VOCES8 and award-winning Brodsky Quartet come to two local churches – VOCES8 to East Woodhay on 10 May and The Brodskys to Shaw the following evening.

The name Dankworth is legendary, and the jazz bassist son of John Dankworth and Cleo Laine brings his band Alec Dankworth’s World Spirit to Arlington Arts Centre on 18 May, while Northumbrian folk music and traditions are heralded on 16 May at the Corn Exchange when Kathryn Tickell and The Side perform a show featuring evocative slow airs that could break your heart followed by dizzying jigs and reels.

The delightful musical comedy ‘Betty Blue Eyes’ is staged on 12 May; based on Alan Bennet’s award-winning film ‘A Private Function’, the story is based in 1947 and is about a pig named Betty who is being reared illegally for a very special event, with hilarious consequences!

With 2017 being the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, there are three Austen-inspired events, including an adaptation of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ narrated by none other than film-star Hayley Mills, with music by Carl Davis, on 7 May.

Particular events to appeal to children include Dr Dee’s Daughter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with live music, puppetry and storytelling on 13 May. In addition, Travelling By Tuba brings a world of musical instruments and fun (watch out for the exploding tuba!) on 20 May. Adults who love fun with their music are sure to enjoy Worbey & Farrell on 9 May – internationally acclaimed pianists with a wicked sense of humour!

With young emerging artists an important part of the Festival, the Young Artists Lunchtime Recital Series is a series of six concerts, three of which star young men with local links: trombonist Michael Buchanan (8 May), Benjamin Cunningham (12 May) and Leo Popplewell (17 May).

Tickets for the shows are at varying prices to suit most pockets and some performances are even free for children. A special opportunity for those aged 15–30 is the Young Festival Critics scheme –register to attend a show completely free of charge and write a review; on top of this, all reviews are entered into a competition to win £100.

This is truly just a taster of all that Newbury Spring Festival has to offer: check out their brochure for details of all the other delights at