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An imagination-boggling weekend of drama, music and creativity is exploding onto the Kent arts scene this weekend, with the first ever bOing! International Family Festival. Jo Roberts reports.
If the kids’ summer excitement has waned and you need a new burst of imagination, then spring into a weekend of cutting-edge live entertainment.
Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre is launching its first bOing! International Family Festival with two days of theatre, dance, music, comedy and films full of magical performances and experiences.
One of the star turns will be taken by a leading light on Kent’s music scene, the world-famous cello player and singer Matthew Sharp.
Dad-of-three Matthew, a former resident of Deal who now lives in Tonbridge, will host the centrepiece Family Concert on Saturday, August 30 at 11.30am.
At the end of the concert the whole audience will be invited to learn a new piece of music and become part of a large-scale performance that afternoon.
Matthew himself is living proof that exposure to the arts in their formative years can inspire children to greatness.
The former artistic director of Deal Festival grew up surrounded by music and singing from a very early age and started to learn the violin aged four and the cello aged six.
“My debut was as a mouse in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde aged three,” remembers Matthew, who is currently creative director of the Revelation St Mary’s live music venue in Ashford. “I’ve always had a broad and deep engagement with opportunity, and I was about to leave school aged 16 to be a cellist when I got involved with an opera workshop and had such a brilliant time, so the possibility of singing and theatre stopped me leaving.”
Matthew continued to study and, while he still sings and acts, has become renowned as a cellist, playing in classical settings all over the world, as well as the Glastonbury and Latitude festivals.
This weekend he’s delighted to be performing at the Colyer-Fergusson Building, next to the Gulbenkian, for bOing!
“We love the atmosphere and the welcome up there, and that kind of embracing and understanding that we get at front of house when we take my twin boys of 18 months and four-year-old girl,” says Matthew, 41. “They really get the demands of being a big family and the sense of drum roll and expectation that we’re going to see something exciting and fabulous and imaginative and transformative. All of that is cooking as soon as you walk through the door.”
He adds: “What I’m bringing is a concert for families with extraordinary, spine-chilling and hilarious stories and songs from all walks of music, and there will be plenty of very welcoming participation as well so people can get involved.
“Then we’re going to take the spirit of that concert and give audience members the opportunity to learn the finale for a promenade walk which is happening that afternoon. They will sing along when we get to the big final moments.”
The event will be a real family affair for Matthew himself, as his sister and brother-in-law will perform in the family concert, and his wife will be in attendance with his own kids.
The Family Concert takes place on Saturday, August 30 at 11.30am in the Colyer-Fergusson Building on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus. Tickets £5. Call 01227 769075 or visit www.boingfestival.com
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