Arts Festival starts with a tank

WW1 tanks will patrol the Gun Garden

The 47th annual Rye Arts Festival promises to be the biggest and best yet, with a mix of music, art, films, drama, talks and much more. From September 15 to 30 the town will be buzzing with more than 60 events including classical and contemporary music, literary talks, walks, films, drama and much more. This year’s Festival will have two themes – the centenary of the end of World War I and the centenary of women’s suffrage – with events that tap into these areas.

So on the opening day, Saturday September 15, there will be a World War I working tank model (1/6th size) on manoeuvre in the appropriately named Gun Garden – look out for the Guerrilla Knitting too in this area, with poppies likely to feature highly in public displays of this craft. Meanwhile the Rye Ukulele Experiment will be strumming outside Adams and then at the Gun Garden with the tanks at 2:30pm!

Roderick Williams

And on Monday September 17 the world-renowned British baritone Roderick Williams will be singing songs alongside the poetry of World War I poet Ivor Gurney.

Local artists, musician, film director Dave McKean will be performing songs and showing artworks inspired by World War I artist Paul Nash in a show called “Black Dog – the Dreams of Paul Nash”, which is not to be missed on Tuesday September 18.

If this all sounds bit heavy going, we are thrilled to move on to World War II for a performance of Dad’s Army Radio Hour on Sunday September 16. A pair of actors perform the scripts of two classic Dad’s Army episodes doing all the voices of the TV cast members with uncanny accuracy, as well as getting their mannerisms down to a tee. This is guaranteed to be one of the funniest shows seen in Rye since World War II!

Women take the chair with speakers such as Dame Joan Ruddock, who is opening the Festival on September 15, and An Audience with Dame Jenni Murray on the afternoon of September 30, which closes the Festival. Joan Ruddock has had a life in politics, having chaired CND before becoming an MP and the first Women’s Minister in government.

The classical music programme is packed, including two performances of the comic opera Les Mamelles de Tiresias on September 22 and 29, where gender reassignment and feminism are just two of the themes – but more about them next week!

Danny Driver

On Friday September 21 the globally renowned British pianist Danny Driver will be playing at St Mary’s church in Rye. Audience responses around the world have cemented Danny Driver’s international reputation as a versatile and creative pianist of sophistication, interpretative insight and musical depth!

The night before a new, young pianist will be playing at the same venue. In a new collaboration between Rye Arts Festival, Fairlight Arts Trust and Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, the organisers of the Festival are delighted to welcome Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra and
Kenny Broberg, 2017 Winner of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, to St Mary’s Church.

Laura Snowden

And for something more intimate, a lunchtime recital on Thursday September 20 at Iden church by the young guitarist Laura Snowden. Award-winning classical guitarist and composer Laura was hand-picked by Julian Bream to give the Julian Bream Trust concerts at Wigmore Hall in 2015 and 2017. Laura was the first guitarist to graduate from the world-renowned Yehudi Menuhin School, where guitar tuition was made possible by a donation from The Rolling Stones! Come and listen to a young musician at the start of her career before she becomes as famous as Julian Bream.

And if you are looking for some real fun, then check out Friday September 21 when Rye will see the welcome return of arguably the UK’s most authentic Cajun band – the fabulous Brighton-based Hotfoot Specials.

They offer joyous, accessible music from the Louisiana bayous, playing fiddle, accordion, guitar, drums and “tit fer” (triangle) played by perhaps the most accomplished master of this instrument this side of the Atlantic.

Come along and dance the night away (you don’t need to know how to Cajun reel or four-step) or just sit and listen to this outstanding outfit.

These events are just for starters – there are many more and, of course, many don’t have connections with these two themes – they are there simply to entertain.

For the full list of events, and to book tickets, go to Otherwise ring the Box Office on 01797 224442.

Image Credits: Rye Arts Festival.


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