The second week of 48th annual Rye Arts Festival continues with a top-quality mix of classical and contemporary music, authors, film, theatre and much more.
World class is a term often bandied about quite loosely, but it does genuinely apply to Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside, who are performing at St Mary’s church on Friday, September 27.
Williams has been described by Simon Heffer, the Classic FM DJ and Daily Telegraph columnist, as “a stupendous and intelligent singer at the zenith of his powers” and he rates Williams as one of the world’s leading baritones.
Earlier in the week, Sunday, September 23, also at St Mary’s church, the Festival introduces Tangram – a collective that creates and plays the new music from the Chinese diaspora, The collective, which has a variety of backgrounds, weaves a path between European Classical and Chinese music, including traditional and newly written work. The concert is at 7:30pm but it is preceded by a free workshop at 5:30pm for 45 minutes, open to young and old to explore their instruments.
And on September 24, a real treat is in store at Winchelsea. The Norwegian cellist Ernst-Simon Glaser, who was schooled in England, but who is now principal cellist for the Gothenburg Orchestra in Sweden, will be playing a remarkable concert. Ernst-Simon will be playing three brand new pieces written specially for him by three Norwegian composers, and these will be performed with the three Bach cello pieces which directly inspired the new works. This Three World Premiers concert is not to be missed!
Nor are the The Pink Singers, Europe’s longest-established LGBT + choir, and they bring a fun, vibrant performance to the stage.
Their programme is called “Divas Through the Decades” and they will sing some of the true greats of popular music – come along and listen to their loving tributes to the music of Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland, Diana Ross and, of course, Ella Fitzgerald. St Mary’s church on Saturday, September 21 will be joyous.
On Sunday, September 22 you can see If I Catch Alphonso, Tonight! This will be a lovely afternoon in which you’ll delve into the life and times of one of Music Hall’s greatest and most revered artists, who is now sadly much overlooked – Billy Merson.
Miles Jenner, the head brewer at Lewes brewery, Harvey’s, takes time out to play Billy, whose career lasted for 50 years and spanned music hall, revue and cinema, against the backdrop of two world wars. This new musical play contains 16 of the great man’s comic songs. It is a story of a great survivor – a man who bounced back from the ropes again and again. And the show deserves to be seen!
Thursday, September 26 brings A Regular Little Houdini to Rye Community Centre. This is a multi-award-winning one-man play set in Edwardian South Wales. A dockworker’s son is obsessed by the great Harry Houdini. Despite the chains of poverty, and adult cynicism, our hero trains himself to emulate his hero. And then he meets the great showman, who came to Britain and spent time in Newport, Gwent.
The play is a roller-coaster of emotions but hope, determination and magic win through. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll think.
The Festival is thrilled that one of the country’s best-loved and best-selling novelists is attending, and on Tuesday, September 24 Patrick Gale will make his first visit to Rye. The writer of 16 novels and the award-winning 2017 BBC drama Man In An Orange Shirt, has a huge following around the world.
And he will be talking about his most recent novel, Take Nothing With You – a funny, sad book that explores the collision between childish hero worship and an extremely messy adult love life.
September 26 is when the historian Professor Andrew Roberts talks about his new biography of Sir Winston Churchill. There have been around 1,000 biographies of Churchill, but Roberts has managed to break new ground by gaining the first ever access to King George VI’s private diaries, as well as 40 other new sources.
Sir Max Hastings will be talking at The Milligan Theatre. His new book, Chastise: the Dambusters Story, 1943, will be hot off the press, since it was published on September 5. So, this will be one of the very first times the renowned former war correspondent and military historian will be talking in public on the subject.
Tickets for all the events are on sale online – or call the Box Office on 01797 224442.
Image Credits: Rye Arts Festival , Ola Kjelbye , Toby Madden .