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Welcome to the fifth Belper Arts Festival with its blend of art, music, theatre, dance, photography, film, literature, comedy, performance, talks and workshops. There’s a wide range of events packed inbetween ’DIVA’ (29 April) and Belper Open Houses (27 / 28 / 29 May).

The highlights include a performance by the poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan. Accompanied by musician Luke Carver Goss, you can expect an evening of world class performance poetry, humour and music. Speaking of world class, ’Opera Babe’ Karen England appears with the Dalesmen and A’choired Taste for a ’Last Night Of The Proms’. The annual family concert features the return of the Younger Kanneh Masons who will precede the Isata Kanneh Mason piano recital. Amongst the other concerts at St. Peter’s Church is a performance of Mozart’s Requiem by DerwentSingers, organist Tom Corfield and ’Music For Springtime’ featuring Lucy Philips and Beate Toyka and a concert featuring lute and voice with Esperance Duo.

You don’t have to venture outside Belper to find world class talent. Musician Dave Stuart returns from a tour of South America with prog rock band Gong to showcase music from his Dreams and Absurdities album at Number 28. Dave will also be playing live during the Past Lives : Belper On
Film presentation. The film is created from amateur footage and from the 1950s to the 1980s given by local residents and is accompanied by a live music soundtrack.

The enchanting Woollen Woods returns. The Parks Woods will once again be packed with knitted, crocheted and felted animals. During May, the woods are full of bluebells, both natural and knitted. The area can be accessed from the Coppice Car Park, the Fleet and Mill Lane. This years event also features storyteller Lauren Kinnersley at Number 28 on 13 May.

On 25 May a very special concert takes place. WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS - ’Fighting The Big C’ was inspired by the Radio Derby presenter Andy Potter and the many artists who lost their lives to cancer during the past eighteen months. They included Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Sir Terry Wogan. All profits will go to the Nightingale Macmillan Suite at the Royal Derby Hospital. Matt McGuinness, Belper Musical Theatre and We Are The Giant are among the performers. Admission to the concert at St. Peter’s Church is free but donations will be welcomed.

Did you think the Arts Trail could get any bigger and better? Well it has with over 140 artists in 50 venues as we go to press. The children’s favourite, Captain Dan returns for a third year and Derby’s Djembe Drummers will entertain. Live music will feature again alongside the Word On The Street and Writing On The Wall. Belper Open Houses, now in its seventh year, has also expanded with more homes, studios and artists open from 27 – 29 May.

Theatre is well represented with local playwright and director Jane Wilton reprising her comedy / drama Light One Up. At the heart of the play are the characters who are banished to the outdoor gazebo when the ’smoking law’ changed. ’Hamp’, a play by John Wilson, is set in 1917 during the battle of Passchendaele. When Private Arthur Hamp crawls from a shell hole he walks into a tragic scenario.

There’s also a Shakespeare Day featuring Ben Spiller, ’Tea With Oscar Wilde’ with the Don’t Go Down Into The Cellar Theatre Company, ’Derbyshire Day’, the launch of Hello Goodbye – a book abut the Beatles, a celebration of Beth’s Poetry Trail,and ’Shine!’, a day of performance with over 100 children from Captive Audience, Flippan C Creative, Belper Musical Theatre and Propbox.

Number 28 The Market Place is, once again, the focal point for exhibitions and workshops. It will also host a concert by a master of the kora – the African harp – Seckou Keita. Originally from Senegal, Seckou explores flamenco and jazz-funk in his music as well his African influences. Finally, why begin Belper Arts Festival in Wirksworth? “We were looking for a venue to stage a new play, ’DiVA’,” said director Fliss Goldsmith. “We couldn’t find one in Belper and someone suggested Wirksworth Town Hall. So Wirksworth it was and Wirksworth it is.” The play features the return to the UK of film and tv star Virginia Wilson after fifty years in America. Defrauded by her latest husband and in need of funds, Virginia agrees to appear in a performance of ’Private Lives’ in Derby. This original new play has been written by George Gunby. His performed plays include ’Boleyn’, ’Mind Games’ and ’The Passion’. ’DiVA’ is staged on 29 April before going on a short summer tour.

Please check the Belper Arts Festival web site – – for full ticket details.

For the third year, tickets for most events can be obtained from OXFAM BOOKS & MUSIC, King Street, Belper and online from
Tickets for ’DiVA’ can be bought from Traid Links, Market Place, Wirksworth and online

Festival Organisers.
General Contact : George Gunby Tel 07847 478251 Email
Belper Arts Trail : Suzanne Parnell Tel 07738 150105 Email
Belper Arts Trail : Kelly Nixon Tel 07788 556226 Email
Belper Open Houses Art : Jayne Nemeth
Number 28 : Pippa Mansell Email

Belper Arts Festival brochures are available from venues around the town including the North Mill, the library, the Ritz Cinema, Strutt Community Centre, St. Peter’s Church and Number 28.

4 April | Amber Sound FM News


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