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Deal Festival 2015 featuring the Grimethrope Colliery Band, Primavera and Wellington at Walmer

Whatever your tastes in music and theatre, a two-week festival at one of the county’s artiest seaside towns has something for you.

The Choir of Gonville and Caius from Cambridge University will pay their first visit to Deal Festival, which takes place at venues across the town from Friday June 26, until Sunday July 12.

More choral music will come in the shape of the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral, joining with the Academy of Ancient Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a performance called the Spirit of Venice on Thursday July 2.

The Cathedral Choir
The Cathedral Choir

Primavera, one of Britain’s finest chamber ensembles, will perform works by Elgar and Grieg and a new piece by John Carmichael on Sunday July 5.

Classical tastes will be further catered for with a selection of lunchtime and afternoon concerts, with artists including Nicholas McCarthy on Sunday July 5. Born with no right hand, Nicholas nevertheless gained a place at the Royal College of Music and shared the stage with Coldplay at the closing of the British Paralymics.

For brass music lovers, Grimethrope Colliery Band will present a celebration of Americana, including excerpts from West Side Story, on Saturday July 4.

The legendary band’s fame grew even further after the film Brassed Off. Their programme for Deal has been specially devised as a celebration of American Independence Day, and will include music by Gershwin, Copland, Stravinsky, John Williams and Glen Miller. The conductor for the evening will be Brian Grant.

Rite of Spring will be at the Deal Festival
Rite of Spring will be at the Deal Festival
Grimethorpe Colliery Band - heading to the Kent coast
Grimethorpe Colliery Band - heading to the Kent coast

There will be theatre, with an original play called Wellington at Walmer opening the festival on Friday June 26, and further shows including Two Gentlemen of Verona performed by the Changeling Company at Walmer Castle on Tuesday July 7 and Noel Coward’s Hay Fever at St Margaret’s at Cliffe, where the writer himself had a home for some years, on Wednesday July 8.

Physical theatre will come via The Rite of Spring/Romeo and Juliet on Wednesday July 1, a collaboration with Concert Theatre. The show promises to be a breathtaking fusion of these two masterpieces, with a cast of five actors, award-winning classical pianists from the Royal Academy of Music and mask specialists from Trestle Theatre.

Actress Eleanor Bron will be performing with Counterpoise on Thursday July 9 in a programme of British classical music including Sir William Walton’s setting of Edith Sitwell’s eccentric Facade.

Festival president Alison Balsom said: “Deal Festival punches far above its weight given the size. The irresistible and extensive programme is a cultural feast.”

Check out www.dealfestival.co.uk for the full Deal Festival programme plus all dates, times and ticket prices.

Dave Norman and Simon Gregory in rehearsals for Wellington at Walmer
Dave Norman and Simon Gregory in rehearsals for Wellington at Walmer

How the sun set on the hero of Waterloo

Wellington at Walmer, an original play by Kent writer and historian Gregory Holyoake, opens the Deal Festival this weekend. The cast is made up of local performers who bring to life the days when the Duke of Wellington spent much of his time at Walmer Castle as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the production features many of the Iron Duke’s contemporaries – the artist Haydon, Robert Peel, Queen Victoria, and Wellington’s closest female companions – Lady Salisbury and Harriet Arbuthnot.

The duke is played by Simon Gregory – the writer’s acting altar ego. Wellington at Walmer’s producer Willie Cooper believes she is fortunate to have the author in the cast.

“Simon’s advice is invaluable when it comes to knowing the characterisations he envisaged when writing the play,” said Willie, who has appeared in more than 80 major productions playing soprano leads in many operas and operettas.

The play is at St Andrew’s Church, Deal, from 8pm on Friday June 26. Tickets cost £18 for adults and £9 for students. Visit www.dealfestival.co.uk

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