A day of cultural medley

The ancient church at East Guldeford
The ancient church at East Guldeford

Last Sunday, December 20, turned out to be full of a variety of musical experiences starting with the afternoon candle-lit service in East Guldeford where  Ryesingers  performed different Christmas carols and parts of Handel’s Messiah for the congregation  The church (right) always has a wonderful atmosphere and, however many years I have taken part in this service with the Ryesingers, each time it is very heart-warming.

Belting em out like Bassey - Julie Edmonds does her stuff
Belting them out like Bassey – Julie Edmonds does her stuff

The second event was at the Kings Head Pub up Rye hill where a friend, Julie Edmonds, (it’s her local) became “Shirley Bassey”  and entertained the guests with many well known melodies. Considering this was Julie’s first solo show, as she told me in a break, she certainly charmed the crowd with her enthusiasm and great charisma.

For the third, most surprising musical event I have to take you out of Rye to  “KINO-TEATR” (not connected with our Kino) in Norman Street in nearby St Leonards. This is part of a Russian art gallery which also includes a cafe.

The evening (the last of five performances) was described as a “Winter Wonderland” concert, featuring a screening of the Oscar winning animated film of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” within the alternative, magical show with live music – which included Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”, “Blow blow winter wind” by John Rutter, contemporary Russian composer Kapustin, and Polovtsian dances by Borodin.

The Russian-inspired concert at Kino Teatr arranged by Helen Rideout
The Russian-inspired concert at KINO TEATR arranged by Helen Ridout

It did not disappoint. Helen Ridout, well known in Rye for having accompanied several  musicians in concerts in St Mary’s Church, as well as Deputy Mayor Jonathan Breeds in his recent Bond evening at the Queens Head, put together a stunning programme with friends Nikki Thomas on the cello, Wissam Bousany, an extraordinary flautist, and four young singers Nia Coleman (soprano), Flora Macdonald (mezzo), John Twichen (tenor) and Barnaby Beer (baritone).

The music with its Russian flavour was transporting. Words can not really express the amazing atmosphere in this wonderfully decorated auditorium (as a “Winter Wonderland”), with the voices and instruments soaring above the audience.

I feel it would be great if Helen Ridout could be asked to include this musical gem in the Rye Arts Festival’s events. When talking to her she said: “We would love to do it.”

Then, more magic, we were treated to the film of “Peter and The Wolf”. I cannot enthuse enough about this treat with its funny, poignant and serious messages and expressive animation of humans and animals. All in all a very special day.




Photos: Heidi Foster and David Bookless

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