Category Archives: Arts and Culture

TOP ORCHESTRA MAKES MUSIC WITH DEVON SCHOOLS

Musicians from four Devon schools had the chance of a lifetime to perform alongside some of the country’s leading instrumentalists in an inspirational concert of work by modern composers. The concert was the culmination of a series of workshops between the London Chamber Orchestra and pupils at Blundell’s, Blundell’s Prep, Uffculme and Exeter Cathedral Schools.

More than a 100 young musicians performed in the main part of the concert which was the piece Simple Gifts by Paul Edlin. The fourth movement of this was generated during improvisation workshops with twelve Blundell’s musician ‘mentors’ and then by working with pupils from all the schools to put the whole piece together. The concert also featured choristers and vocalists from Uffculme, Blundell’s Senior and Prep Schools and all musicians performed under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green, the LCO’s principal conductor. Other pieces performed included Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland by the LCO and Blundell’s Chamber Orchestra and Shaker Loops by John Adams, performed by the LCO.

The project began in November when eight LCO musicians spent the morning giving flash mob performances at Blundell’s Senior and Prep Schools and at Uffculme School and introduced young pupils to the instruments of the orchestra. In the afternoon, the three schools took part in chamber music masterclasses as well as brass ensembles and jazz groups, culminating in an informal concert.

The work with the LCO has been 18 months in the planning, hosted by Blundell’s School and with the initial starting point that the project should unite the community and involve other local schools. The legacy will continue into another concert at Cadogan Hall, London, in May, when lyrics composed for Simple Gifts by Blundell’s musician mentors will be sung by hundreds of students from around the country as part of a larger LCO music project.

PHOTO: The four schools in concert with the London Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green.

WATCHET’S STREET FAIRS START ON 2 APRIL

Watchet’s second year of colourful Street Fairs begins on 2 April, with music from the Dark Town Strutters, kids’ trapeze and silk and rope drop in workshops from incredible local performer, Lyn Routledge, mouth-watering street food from Broomsquire and Little Van Rouge, fruit and veg, art, craft, local produce and more, all spread across the Esplanade.

The committee is also excited to announce that it has reggae band, Dojo, booked for the May event. Their new single, ‘Bethel’ has been championed by David Rodigan on Radio 1 Extra.

The Street Fairs are run by Watchet Coastal Community Team, who are working to develop tourism and economic growth in the town. They will run on the first Sunday of every month from April through to October.

Last year’s inaugural Street Fairs were a huge success, and led to a threefold increase in the number of visitors to the town.

Cllr Rosemary Woods said, “We’re really excited to be embarking on the second year of Street Fairs. They were a lot of fun last year, and made a big difference to the town, bringing in plenty of visitors. We also aim to support local start-ups, and the evidence is that last year’s events were a real boost for people.”

The Fairs are funded by the central government national initiative, Coastal Communities, which aims to boost Britain’s coastal towns. 118 Coastal Community Teams were created last year and given a share of £1.18m to help drive forward coastal areas growth.

Watchet Coastal Communities Team, which is the organisation behind the Street Fairs, is made up of local people, businesses and organisations in Watchet and includes Town Council, District Council, Watchet Chamber of Trade, Onion Collective CIC, Conservation Society, Market House Museum, West Somerset Railway, Watchet Boat Owners Association and other local business representatives.

Pitches are priced £15- £20. To book a pitch contact Molly Quint on 01984 632592 or email: quint407@btinternet.com

For more information go to the Watchet Street Fair Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/watchetstreetfairs.

PRIDE & PREJUDICE AT THE REGAL, MINEHEAD

On Wednesday 29 March the Pantaloons theatre company return to the Regal Theatre, Minehead with Pride & Prejudice.                                       

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s witty and romantic masterpiece is one of the best-loved stories of all time, dealing with the most important questions in life!  Will Mrs Bennet manage to offload her numerous daughters in record time? Will Lizzy and Darcy actually get together? Will creepy Mr Collins just go away please? The literary classic gets the full Pantaloons treatment in this beautifully hilarious and delightfully innovative new adaptation.

The Pantaloons is a young and dynamic theatre company which recaptures an aspect of drama which modern naturalistic theatre has lost: the riotous energy of the clown.  The company has been immensely popular at the Regal Theatre in the recent past and their visit is anticipated for the opportunity it gives for an enjoyable and hilarious night out.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £12 are now available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am-3pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm Saturday.

SIMONSBATH FESTIVAL 2017

Simonsbath Festival 2017 is just around the corner and this year boasts a fabulous line-up of events.

Concerts include The Lyra Ensemble with sublime choral music from the Russian Orthodox Church (May 14), 1920s jazz from London’s most stylish vintage jazz band The Dime Notes (May 27), the supremely talented violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen with her new quartet Albion (June 3), the vibrant sounds of Latin America from Kabasa (June 10) and another knock-out show from the irrepressibly talented Pop-up Opera (June 17).

Exciting new archive material has recently come to light about the Knight family, who created the Exmoor we know today, which will be the subject of two talks by ENPA’s Rob Wilson-North and Graham Wills (May 24 & 31), while Robin Ravilious, the widow of the great photographer James Ravilious, will give a presentation about her husband’s work chronicling everyday life in rural North Devon during the 1970s and ’80s (June 7).

North Devon farmer and film-maker David Kennard talks about the ups and downs of life with his sheepdogs at Borough Farm (May 10), there’s an extensively illustrated talk by local deer expert and photographer Jochen Langbein (May 17), Jane Austen’s heroines are brought vividly to life in an award-winning theatre production Austen’s Women (June 14), while TV’s Matthew Fort takes us on a sun-drenched trip around the Italian islands (June 21).

And make sure you hunt out the Sketch Boxes to make your mark for Simonsbath Festival . . .

To book tickets telephone Marian Lloyd on 01643 831451 or email tickets@simonsbathfestival.org.uk. To receive a full colour, printed festival programme email info@simonsbathfestival.org.uk or phone Victoria on 01643 831343.

You can support the festival by becoming a Friend of Simonsbath Festival and enjoy ticket discounts and priority booking, just email Polly at friends@simonsbathfestival.org.uk or call 01643 831302, and you can follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter or visit the website.

PHOTO: The Albion Quartet.

‘A FRAGILE BEAUTY: ART OF THE BLACKDOWN HILLS 1909 to 1925

An exhibition of works by the Camden Town Group opens at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton on Saturday 25 March. ‘A Fragile Beauty: Art on the Blackdown Hills 1909 to 1925’ captures the beauty of this Somerset and Devon borderland in a period when the First World War was changing English society forever.

The Camden Town Group, led by Walter Sickert, was named after the London district where many of the artists lived and worked. Initially they painted contemporary urban life, but later they were drawn to the countryside, especially the Blackdown Hills.

Inspired by the example of the impressionists and post-impressionists, artists such as Spencer Gore, Charles Ginner and Robert Bevan created Somerset and Devon landscape paintings of great freshness and immediacy.

“They came to Applehayes, Clayhidon, as the guests of Harold Harrison, an estate owner and amateur artist,” Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, explained.

“The Blackdown Hills were remote and artistically unexplored when they arrived there and their paintings are a wonderful celebration of landscape. Though the world they knew was so different from ours, many of the landscapes and buildings they painted have hardly changed.”

‘A Fragile Beauty’ is the first major exhibition at the Museum of Somerset to rely entirely on loans from other museums and from private collectors. Loans include Spencer Gore’s ‘Applehayes’ (pictured) from the Ulster Museum, and Charles Ginner’s ‘Landscape with Farmhouse’ from Manchester Art Gallery. The exhibition also includes works from private collections that have rarely been seen in public.

The museum has worked with the fine art auctioneers, Lawrences of Crewkerne, who, together with private donors, and the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) have very generously sponsored and supported the exhibition. A varied public programme of associated events is being delivered, including opportunities to enjoy the specially protected landscape of Blackdown Hills AONB as it is today.

‘A Fragile Beauty’ has been created in partnership with the Somerset-based curators and art historians Denys Wilcox and Richard Emeny. The exhibition runs from 25 March to 8 July and entry is free of charge.

ASSOCIATED EVENTS

Celebrated but Seedy: The Life of Walter Sickert
Thursday 27 April, 7.30pm, Museum of Somerset

A talk by Richard Kay, art historian and Director of Pictures at Lawrences, Crewkerne, on the life of Walter Sickert. £15 per person with cheese and wine. Booking required via the Museum 01823 255088.

Family Fun Day
Saturday 29 April, 11am–4pm, Museum of Somerset

A free family fun day based around the history, heritage and archaeology of the Blackdown Hills – the landscape which inspired the Camden Town artists.

‘Talk and Tea’: The Blackdown Hills – A Landscape of Patterns and Pictures
Friday 12 May, 2.30pm–3.30pm, Museum of Somerset

Linda Bennett, Blackdown Hills AONB Manager, will give a talk on the landscape of the Blackdown Hills and why it’s special. £5 per person.

In the Footsteps of the Camden Town Artists
Sunday 18 June, 10.30am, Clayhidon

Explore the landscapes and buildings of the Blackdown Hills which feature in the paintings of the Camden Town Group. Local naturalist, Gavin Saunders, will lead a walk through the valley around Applehayes and Ringdown in Clayhidon to look for echoes of the artists’ work. Suggested donation £5 per person. Booking required via the AONB 01823 680 681.

IMAGE: Loans include Spencer Gore’s ‘Applehayes’ from the Ulster Museum.

Find out more on the Museum of Somerset’s website.

 

 

 

Kind regards,

Beth

SHAN MILLER LIFESIZED!

Artist Shan Miller is famous for her life-size portraits of pets, rare breeds and rural life and exhibits widely both at home and abroad, most notably in Cornwall and Cumbria with her celebration of the farmyard instigated by the NFU.

Shan has family connections with a local hunt and it is in commemoration of this that she has created the huge painting of hounds illustrated. As she explains, “I would love to find a good home on Exmoor for this very evocative and powerful piece, which, at 8 feet tall, is a real talking point and would create a unique focal point.”

Based in North Devon, her studio and gallery is an imposing, three-storey former grain mill close to the renowned Tarka Trail and is available to view by appointment. Nearby, at The Puffing Billy Cafe (a restored railway station) 28 of her impressive, larger than life canine portraits are on display, demonstrating her compelling and commandingly maverick style, which highlights the muscle and power of the animals, a veritable feast of fur.

For more information about Shan and her work please go to her website at www.shanmiller.com.

HALSWAY MANOR ‘YOUNG FOLK’ RESIDENTIALS FOR 2017

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts is pleased to announce that applications are now open for ‘Halsway Young Folk – Intro’.  Developed from their popular ‘Hothouse’ project, this week-long Easter residential (Mon 3 – Fri 7 April) is designed as an intensive but fun introduction to traditional folk music for musicians and singers aged 12-18.

It is led by a team of professional folk artists – Will Lang, Nicola Lyons (4Square), Archie Churchill-Moss (Moore, Moss, Rutter) and Ford Collier (The Drystones), with a dedicated pastoral tutor to make sure you’re well supported while away from home.

Prior experience – as either a singer or musician – is essential, but it’s ok to be new to ‘folk’. It’s intensive and hard work at times, but the team at Halsway guarantees you’ll have fun and make new friends too.

During the week you will operate as a performance company: taking warm-ups together, developing technique in music and performance, learning repertoire, and creating new interpretations of traditional material. There will also be down-time to socialise and enjoy being part of an exciting new company of performers! At the end of the week you’ll have the chance to perform what you’ve learned to an invited audience. And if you’re hooked on folk, you can attend the ‘Halsway Young Folk – Intermediate’ course in the summer, which culminates in performances at Sidmouth Folk Week!

To book a place, please contact Halsway Manor or visit www.halswaymanor.org.uk to download an an application form. Each place costs £19, which includes full board (accommodation and all meals), tuition and all activities. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first-served basis.

Bursary places may be available to young people with exceptional talent or for whom the opportunity would be especially beneficial, but whose financial circumstances would otherwise exclude them from the programme. Email chiefexec@halswaymanor.org.uk if this is something you would like to discuss.

Further ‘Halsway Young Folk’ courses in 2017 include Junior for ages 8-12 (Tue 22 – Thu 24 Aug) halswaymanor.org.uk/event/halsway-young-folk-juniors/, Intermediate for ages 13-18 (Mon 31 July – Sat 5 Aug) halswaymanor.org.uk/event/halsway-young-folk-summer/ and Advanced for ages 16 – 25 (Mon 21 – Sat 26 Aug halswaymanor.org.uk/event/halsway-young-folk-advanced/).

 

THE AGE-OLD SONGS THAT STILL CONNECT THE WEST COUNTRY AND NEWFOUNDLAND

If ever you are to visit Newfoundland, the chances are that you’ll meet quite a few locals whose roots are planted firmly in the South West of England. There’s also a great chance that those roots would be somewhere among the fishing communities of the North Devon coast.

While there, you might also get to hear some of the traditional songs that are part of Newfoundland culture, songs which had arrived on boats from this area generations earlier – and stayed there.

It’s estimated that over 60% of people living in Canada’s most easterly province can trace their ancestry to South West England, and Devon in particular. It’s a link that spans 3,500 miles and hundreds of years, and today, the Devon-Newfoundland connection lives on not just through a sense of shared history, but through song. When they left these shores for good, the settlers – largely fishing folk – took the songs they’d learned at home with them.

Centuries later, it’s in the relatively remote towns and villages of Newfoundland where these songs have survived in their fullest form. In Devon, they’ve been shortened over time – but the tunes and the similarities reveal unmistakably that the songs share the same origins.

People in Devon will get the chance to hear for themselves in April, thanks to a collaboration of folk musicians from both sides of the Atlantic as part of The Devon Newfoundland Story, a series of events organised by The Devonshire Association.

Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson from Okehampton-based charity Wren Music first met Newfoundland folk singer Jim Payne over 30 years ago and they’ve worked together a number of times since. They’ll be travelling around the county with ‘Shore to Shore Revisited’, a concert, recital and lecture tour. The tour includes a 7pm concert at Palladium Bideford and a 1pm lecture recital at the town’s Burton Art Gallery & Museum, both on 11 April.

If you take a look at a map of the world you’ll notice there’s a horizontal line between Devon and Newfoundland. It was a line followed by Devon fishing folk as early as the 1500s, when communities would spend the summer season working in the rich fishing waters off Newfoundland.

When Devonian explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed from Plymouth to St John’s and annexed Newfoundland for Queen Elizabeth I in 1583, it became England’s first colony. The first permanent settlement was in 1610 and many more settlements grew up during the centuries that followed. The links are particularly strong in Devon’s ports and fishing towns such as Bideford, Barnstaple and Appledore on the north coast and Teignmouth, Dartmouth and Plymouth on the south.

It was during an event in 1983 to mark the 400th anniversary of Gilbert’s annexation that Jim first met Marilyn and Paul. Jim recalled: “It was only when I heard Paul sing a couple of Devon folk songs that were also part of my own Newfoundland repertoire, songs that I had learned from people within my own family, that I realised those folk music connections still had a contemporary relevance in that many of the songs brought to Newfoundland by early settlers from the West Country had survived intact in Newfoundland over several generations.

“In Newfoundland, there was so much material that came here with early settlers, but then there was locally composed material that emerged from out of what the early settlers had brought. Song lyrics changed to reflect the circumstances of life in the new world, even while melodies remained the same.”

One example is a song about logging, ‘The Double Sledder Lad’, which is a Newfoundland version of the Devonian song that Paul sings called ‘Jim, the Carter Lad’.

Although some of the words may have changed in Newfoundland, Paul says: “If you want to know what Devon songs sounded like and Devon tunes and fiddle-playing sounded like in the past, go to Newfoundland. I can think of 30 songs off the top of my head that went across to Newfoundland from Devon that are still alive now but I’d say there are easily over 100, possibly 200, that are common to both. The songs migrated over there and took root.”

For Marilyn and Paul, seeing how the songs were such an integral part of Newfoundland culture was hugely influential in Wren Music’s work in bringing Devonian songs to the fore again: “I was actually quite envious of the traditions in Newfoundland music and we learnt a lot from that. We’ve gone about things in a different way by establishing groups around the county, but the aim has been the same, to bring these songs forward so that they and their stories are heard in the communities where they came from.

“And thanks to this project by the Devonshire Association we’ll hopefully be reaching new audiences.”

Learning that versions of old South West songs are very much alive in Newfoundland has literally been a voyage of discovery for Paul: “I’ll play a song and Jim will say ‘I’ve got a version of that and it goes like this’ and vice versa.” At some of their past concerts together they’ve done a ‘mash-up’ of both Devon and Newfoundland versions. Paul explained: “Jim sings a song called ‘A Tale of Jests’, a song of exaggeration which we know and sing as ‘The Lying Tale’. We do a verse from Devon and then a verse from Newfoundland and we tell the story together. We go across the Atlantic and back again about five times in the song, it’s absolutely lovely and it works really well. But with most of the songs, we’ll sing one version and refer to the other.”

The concerts will feature songs that represent the larger collection: “There are love songs, nonsense songs, funny songs, and there are lots of ballads – big story songs of murder and other dark tales,” said Paul. “And there are some very significant sea songs; the sea is what links us and the sea will feature in these concerts and the talks.”

One of the songs from Newfoundland is ‘Come and I Will Sing You’. In Devon it is sung as the ‘Dilly Song’ and was passed down by a servant girl in Horrabridge: “The first line of the ‘Dilly Song’ is Come and I Will Sing You, so it’s the same song but it’s very different,” said Paul. “There’s also a classic ballad which in Newfoundland is called ‘She’s Like The Swallow’, but here it’s ‘On Yonder’s Hill’ and is associated with Bampton in Mid Devon.”

Among the songs Paul will be singing is ‘Captain Ward’, which is a pirate song from the era of Peter Easton, a pirate who operated off Newfoundland. “These are wonderful songs and we’re really looking forward to playing them,” said Paul. “They’re full of guitars, accordions and fiddles and the choruses have huge harmonies.”

Paul has a personal connection, too, as his grandfather moved to Newfoundland and was the first vicar of Great Falls – a town built up around the logging industry: “It’s one of the reasons why this project means so much to me. Newfoundland is very close to my heart. Their traditions are amazing.”

And, as Jim says, the roots of those traditions haven’t been lost through the passage of time: “Many Newfoundlanders still fly the Union Jack, the accents of Devon and Dorset can be clearly heard in many Newfoundland conversations, a large number of dialect words here come directly from the West Country. So the connections are still highly relevant today.”
www.wrenmusic.co.uk

PERFORMANCES IN BIDEFORD:

CONCERT:
Tuesday 11 April, 7pm
PALLADIUM BIDEFORD
1 Lower Gunstone, Town Centre, Bideford, EX39 2DE
Tickets £8
Booking through Wren Music:
Email info@wrenmusic.co.uk; 01837 53754; www.wrenmusic.co.uk

LECTURE RECITAL:
Tuesday 11 April at 1pm
BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM,
Bideford, EX39 2QQ
Free entry / donation

ILLUSTRATION at TOP: Bideford Newfoundlanders in a Fair Gale – copyright Mark Myers, 1977.

 

 

 

SING OUT LOUISE AT THE REGAL MINEHEAD IN AID OF ‘HOPE FOR TOMORROW’

‘Sing Out Louise’ – a touching and exhilarating event – takes to the stage at the Regal Theatre for two performances on Sunday 12 March.  Internationally acclaimed acts perform alongside talented local groups for one massive ‘sing out’ in honour of friend and fellow entertainer, the late Louise Doolan.

Audiences will be treated to an energetic and uplifting show starring Bucks Fizz and featuring tributes to Take That and Madonna.  Also performing will be vocalist Max Hutton, LA Dancers, Taunton Amateur Operatic Society, Fusion, Dunster First School choir and Dynamix, a close harmony vocal group. What better way to spend a Sunday!

All Acts appearing are linked personally and professionally to Louise and are all giving their services for free. All profits from this event will be donated to the charity Hope for Tomorrow.

Performances on 12 March begin at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.  Tickets costing up to £8 are now available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am-3pm Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm Saturday.

PHOTO: Bucks Fizz will be singing at the event.

WHAT’S THE MATTER? A PHYSICAL COMEDY ABOUT PHYSICS BY THE LAST BAGUETTE THEATRE COMPANY

Theatre company The Last Baguette are bringing science to life with their entertaining comedy, What’s the Matter?, touring the UK this spring and summer. It will be showing at King’s College, Taunton (Theatre) on 16 March at 7.30pm.

A physical comedy about physics, What’s the Matter? is performed by two actors and an overhead projector with original artwork, and appeals to scientists and non-scientists of all ages. Be prepared for a very silly show about a very intelligent subject.

“I am fascinated by physics,” said actor Tristan Green. “There are so many exciting developments happening in the subject at the moment. I think it’s really important that the subject is seen fun and interesting.”

This sci-fi adventure is written by award-winning playwright Tiffany Woodsmith (Sunday Times playwriting award), and was developed with Dr Helen Heath from the University of Bristol. An unexplained cat theft from a lab leads scientist Smithy on a journey through his own experiment into the subatomic world. Can he find the cat and win over his colleague Sarah in the process?

As seen at the British Science Festival, this comedy about the strange and wonderful world of quantum physics features silly songs, dancing particles, scientific slapstick, and a search for Schrodinger’s cat.

The Last Baguette theatre company is a group of international theatre performers who met while studying in Paris in 2009, at the renowned Jaques Lecoq school of mime and the infamous Philippe Gaulier clown school. They make fast-paced, irreverent comedy theatre.

“We were students from eight different countries that knew we wanted to make comedy together. We are inspired by Monty Python, Buster Keyton and vintage science fiction,” said Tristan. After performing in Europe and North America, the Last Baguette are now company-in-residence at Pound Arts in Corsham.

Tristan added: “Making a show about science was very important for me. I love the idea of art and science being two sides of the same coin, and that the show embraces both comedy and science.”

What’s the Matter? has been performed all over the UK in theatres, festivals, museums and colleges.

“A really great fun show that was enjoyed by lovers of science and comedy in equal measure… we were transported to the best of Edinburgh Fringe.”
Tracy Sullivan – Director, Trowbridge Arts

Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Age guidance: 8+
www.thelastbaguette.com
Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgO_ugSopng

Tickets are free and are available by emailing reception@kings-taunton.co.uk or calling 01823 328200.