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Maidstone Leeds Castle Classical Concert soloist Louise Dearman, star of Wicked, and Alwyn Mellor join 900 year event

By Angela Cole

It's a big event in its own right, but this year's Leeds Castle Classical Summer Concert is bigger than ever, as it marks the historic castle's 900-year milestone.

To be held on Saturday, July 13, it will include a specially-written fanfare for the anniversary, along with music from the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra, conducted and hosted by John Rigby for a second year, and soloists.

The line-up includes female soloists Louise Dearman and Alwyn Mellor, who will be taking to the stage for the night to remember.

Wicked star Louise Dearman will return for the Leeds Castle Classical Concert Picture: Steve Crispe
Wicked star Louise Dearman will return for the Leeds Castle Classical Concert Picture: Steve Crispe

But the high profile event has left returning soloist Louise with one very big issue - what to wear.

"Last year I went a bit under-stated," she said. "But I think I am going to take it up a notch this year. I might even go down the designer route. It is extra special, after all. There may be more sparkles and just more this year."

She said of her debut last year: "It was incredible. People had told me about it and what a great event it was, but I wasn't quite prepared - the atmosphere was wonderful. I do enjoy every concert I do, of course, but the whole day at Leeds was brilliant.

"It was more than I expected it to be. So now this year I am even more excited and I hope to bring my family. It really is a special day."

Soloist Louise Dearman also starred in Wicked in the West End
Soloist Louise Dearman also starred in Wicked in the West End

Infact, such was her enthusiasm last year, that she admits she had the date locked down in record time. "Literally the night I finished the concert last year, I said to John (Rigby) 'please ask me to do this again'."

Louise is best known as the only person to have played the roles of Glinda and Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked.

Last year's soloists have fun ahead of the concert with Louise Dearman third from left - but what will she wear this year? Picture: Steve Crispe
Last year's soloists have fun ahead of the concert with Louise Dearman third from left - but what will she wear this year? Picture: Steve Crispe

Joining her will be soprano Alwyn Mellor, who studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and made her debut with Welsh National Opera. Principal roles have included the Royal Opera London, Opera North, Welsh National Opera, the Paris Opera, Seattle Opera and Washington National Opera.

She said: "I am greatly looking forward to singing at the wonderful setting of Leeds Castle. I look forward to showing a different side of my musical self on what I am sure will be a memorable evening for audience and performers alike."

Conductor and host John Rigby said: "I’m thrilled that we have the sensational West End star, Louise Dearman, returning to Leeds Castle this summer after such a fabulous debut last year. And it’s a real honour to have Alwyn Mellor join us for the 900th anniversary of the castle. This is surely going to be a fitting celebration."

John Rigby will host the Leeds Castle classical concert for the second year
John Rigby will host the Leeds Castle classical concert for the second year

The summer event, which attracts thousands, has a popular classical programme and solo pieces plus the firing of field guns, fireworks and a Spitfire flypast.

The Leeds Castle Classical Concert is on Saturday, July 13, sponsored by Brachers. To book tickets in time for Mother's Day visit leedscastleconcert.co.uk.

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