Graffham Festival opens this week

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Organisers are reporting growing excitement as Graffham Festival (July 15-24) gets ready to open.

Spokeswoman Diana Bowden said: “Two people everyone is especially excited to see again are organist, jazz musician and art historian Richard Bailey and boy-band member turned singer/song writer Ben Pryer.

“While their musical styles couldn’t be more different, both are sure of a hero’s welcome thanks to their huge talent and long association with the area.

“Richard Bailey lived in the village for eighteen years prior to his recent move to take up the position of Director of Music and Principal Organist at King Charles the Martyr Church, Falmouth. He has contributed hugely to the musical life of Graffham and the local area and is now making his mark in Cornwall where he currently directs or accompanies ten choirs.

“Richard hails from Liverpool and started playing the organ at the tender age of ten after he joined Liverpool Cathedral choir. Playing for his first service at the age of twelve he has since showcased his remarkable musical talent at almost every cathedral in Britain including St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey and at many prestigious venues abroad: Notre-Dame de Paris, der Kölner Dom, Notre-Dame de Chartres and Il Duomo di Firenze; but nowhere is he more missed than at St Giles, Graffham.

“During his much anticipated, if brief, return for the festival he will not only treat us to an organ recital (Fri 15th) and a jazz evening (Sat 16th) but he has also agreed to share with us a soupçon of his vast knowledge of Christian Art in an informal talk on the Saturday morning.

“Ben Pryer also has a long history with Graffham as his grandfather, Alan Sargent, lives in the village. Ben grew up in West Sussex and from an early age, Ben wrote and sung his own music and was playing live shows at the age of 11 and could often be seen busking to large crowds in Chichester!

“He recorded his first E.P Again & Again with Tom Mills which went down a storm with the kids. He later went on to a more mature approach to the music he actually felt he wanted to play and part released another E.P called The Unmastered E.P which was only available on SoundCloud and featured tracks such as Hold me by the heart and The Reason To Life.

“Ben then had a call one day asking to join the boyband M.A.D. After much thinking he made the bold decision to join the group which boosted him straight into the charts with 2 Top 40 Singles (Fame & T.V and Shotgun) and a No.1 Album in the Record Store Charts. After diving in and out of the Top 40 Charts for some weeks the boys all decided it wasn’t right for them and chose to go their separate ways.

“Today, Ben is forging a new solo career and recently played at The Petworth Fringe’s Big Day Out. At Graffham Festival he will be treating us to an evening of acoustic music where he’ll perform well known covers from the 50s through to present day - as well as his own material.

“These are just 2 of the superstars performing at Graffham Festival – which runs from 15th – 24th July and boasts a packed programme of art, music, dance, poetry and creative writing. Visitors will also be able to get involved in a series of participative workshops – professional artists will be running classes for kids as young as 3 as well as older children and adults.

Tickets for all events are selling fast so to ensure you don’t miss out visit www.graffhamfestival.co.uk to book your tickets today.”

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