Under clear blue skies, in front of a cathedral looking all the more magnificent in the sunshine, the city mayor declared the 2017 Festival of Chichester open this afternoon.
Councillor Peter Evans, accompanied by Mayoress, Cllr Margaret Evans, told crowds on the Cathedral Green to expect a brilliant line-up of arts, culture and community activities over the next four weeks.
Chichester novelist Kate Mosse, a strong supporter of the festival from its inception nearly five years ago, also promised a great month ahead - a superb programme adding big names from outside to the huge wealth of talents within our community.
The Festival of Chichester’s now-traditional launch afternoon on the Cathedral Green saw a host of performers entertain shoppers and passers-by on a gloriously-hot afternoon.
Sussex jazz band Besame Bleu offered a feast of Latin and French music served on a plate of jazz, bossa nova and the blues. Also joining the party with a very different style of music was Pzazz, a modern community singing group based at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester. Responding to the music and delighting the crowds were dancers Ella Fleetwood and Eva Escvich Gonzalez - the perfect way to launch the 2017 Festival, a thrilling and varied line-up of more than 200 events for summer 2017, combining a brilliant programme of classical music with the best in jazz, blues, folk, rock, pop and world music.
Running from June 17-July 16, the festival also offers theatre, book events, talks and poetry, exhibitions, walks, tours, cinema, open days and galas.
Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “Our festival has become a true reflection of Chichester’s cultural importance, very much rooted in the skills and talents of people in the immediate Chichester area - and this afternoon was a fabulously-fun way to set the ball rolling.”
With the festival now under way, Barry Smith, festival co-ordinator, said the delights would be coming thick and fast.
“This year, we’re delighted with a fantastic line-up. Wonderful classical music concerts including the renowned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto in the Cathedral, international pianists, legends of blues, rock and folk such as Georgie Fame, Martin Carthy and Tony Christie, top authors like Lisa Hilton, author of Maestra, brilliant poets including Frieda Hughes at the Poetry & Jazz Café, open-air theatre at West Dean and on the Cathedral Lawn, stunning art exhibitions... the list goes on and on right up to the final day which features a picnic at Halnaker with a world music celebration by the renowned She’Koyokh band. And we must pay tribute to all the wonderful community organisations who have come together to organise special events for our delectation in a summer of festival fun.”
And even buying tickets will be enjoyable, thanks to a new tie-in with the city’s museum.
“Our box office at the city’s Novium museum even has a Tim Peake exhibition for customers to visit when they call in to buy tickets for the fantastic events on offer.”
Phil added: “We are thrilled to be working with the Novium, a very new and very important partnership for us, all part of an increasingly-successful network of co-operation.
“The festival is brought to you by a hard-working committee which meets every month to make sure all our plans come together for a golden explosion of feel-good community fun. But our success heightens everyone’s expectations, and so we are delighted to count once again on the fantastic, enthusiastic support of the Chichester Observer series. We are also privileged to receive funding once again from Chichester City Council, a council which serves the city so well. And so, once again, let the fun begin!
Tickets are available from Chichester Box Office, The Novium, Tower Street, Chichester, PO19 1QH; phone 01243 816525 or 775888; website www.thenovium.org/boxoffice; email email@example.com.
The festival committee is: John Ashley, Anthony Cane, Jill Cook, Felicity Course, Phil Hewitt, Barry Smith, Rebecca Robertson, Anne Scicluna and Helen Watt.
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