Jazz Festival headlines at Hever

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The festival expands and attracts new audiences to Rye

Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival continues to grow and whilst the iconic St Mary’s church in Rye will continue to be the main venue for the amazing headline acts, we are constantly being asked to export the music to different locations and when the opportunity came along to promote the festival in the stunning grounds of Hever Castle we jumped at it.

Finding a local venue large enough to attract world-class artists is challenging, they cost money to put on and in order to cover the rising costs we need to sell a certain number of tickets to make it viable. It is of course the Rye Jazz and Blues festival after all, but by taking the festival to new venues we are attracting and engaging with more and more people all the time. These new supporters come to Rye for the music but they often stay overnight or for the weekend, use the bars and eateries, buy souvenirs and generally bring additional business to the town.

The three concerts we staged at Hever Castle last weekend were another success story, the trilogy opened with Courtney Pine taking centre stage with guest singer Omar by his side, the weather held, the performance was electric and the audience were not disappointed.

The following evening Miloš Karadaglić added a classical twist with a stunning acoustic solo performance, joined in the second half by a young but extremely talented string ensemble who brought the house down with standing ovations.

The final performance was with the sensational Mica Paris, who sang a selection of Ella Fitzgerald numbers and had the crowd up on their feet after one song. The audience were in raptures – Mica had them eating out of her hands and dancing all evening. As the sun set, the weary supporters made their way home after an unforgettable evening.

The only job left for us was to pack everything up and by the early hours our well rehearsed and dedicated team was able to head on home, safe in the knowledge that it had produced a superb trio of world-class concerts. The Rye businesses will be the benefactors of all our hard work and I have no doubt a large percentage of this new audience will be back for the jazz festival this August. They won’t just be wowed by Rye’s amazing architecture and stunning surroundings, they will be spending money, helping to keep the town prosperous.

Image Credits: Tony Ham.

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