Friday, 22 May 2015

Fringe Music in Five Buxton Churches this July

Buxton's Methodist Church on the Market Place

Over the course of the Buxton Festival Fringe (8-26 July) there will be more than 40 musical performances in 15 different venues – many of which can be heard in five of the town's churches.

St John's is a much sought-after venue – partly because of the splendid acoustic, partly because it can accommodate the largest ensemble. This year it hosts an intriguing variety of music-making including a joint Buxton Festival/Fringe show. Members of the Ukulele Orchestra play and sing with internationally-acclaimed lutenist Liz Kenny's Theatre of the Ayre for something of supergroup. Lutes & Ukes first joined forces in 2013; two years later they are back with a programme of songs from Shakespeare to Presley. (18 July).

Early music specialists Partita return for their 21st Fringe – this time with guests Stringboxes – with music ancient and modern; Baroque and Renaissance from Europe with some jazz and West African melodies for contrast. (17 July)

Rachel Johnson and Jemima Palfreyman won a Fringe Award for their piano and flute duets last year. They return and you have the chance to hear what so delighted the judges. This year's programme includes a musical ghost story and a sonata by C├ęsar Franck. (21 July)

Music-making on a larger scale is offered by the High Peak Orchestra which plays Bruckner's Symphony No 6 and Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations for Piano and Orchestra. The soloist will be Ryan Drucker – a student at the Royal Northern College of Music. (12 July). The Peak District Music Centres have provided opportunities for young musicians for many years; the current ensembles are playing better than ever and the String Orchestra will be hot-footing from competition in Birmingham to play in the Fringe alongside the Wind Band. (10 July)

The Amaretti Chamber Orchestra has deservedly built-up a reputation for its playing across the north-west. This year we shall have the chance to hear two very different accounts of the Four Seasons; Vivaldi's and Piazolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. (18 July)

Also at St John's is the Sheffield-based Albion Choir with a late-night programme of traditional British songs. The Choir has been on Radio 3, and events regularly sell-out; this performance includes the offer of a free pint of Abbeydale Brewery Albion Ale. (24 July) A feel-good show is promised by DaleDiva, an award-winning Derbyshire chorus that will be singing in competition in Las Vegas in October. Hear and see this show choir perform anything from the Hallelujah Chorus to God Only Knows. (25 July)

The United Reformed Church welcomes the Ordsall Acappella Singers who come the Buxton for the the fifth year. The Singers have developed a loyal following – partly for their enjoyable repertoire and partly for their home-made cake. Seconds will be available at a further performance at St Mary's. (25 July).

St Mary's has other musical treats on offer. Drum Tribe – a six-piece percussion group from South Africa play nine one-hour shows that are high in energy and give you the chance to join in. (8-16 July). South African singing from the Tshwane Gospel Choir will also be uplifting and provide an intriguing contrast to the British choirs in Buxton. (8-12 July). The other music event at St Mary's features solo cellist Melanie Dawn Jones. Melanie studied at Chethams and the RNCM and now teaches. She will be playing Bach and Gershwin amongst other music. (17 July).

Trinity Church is worth seeking out for the return of the Manchester Recorder Orchestra. If you want to know what 40 recorders sound like, here is your chance. The Orchestra will play Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave as well as a tango based on a Dowland tune! (18 July)

The fifth Buxton church hosting music-making this Fringe is the Methodist Church – and what a packed-programme is on offer. For those wanting more opera the City of Manchester Opera will be singing some arias and choruses from Italian favourites. (25 July). Margaret Ferguson – a soprano with COMO – is back with her own solo recital; in a programme of song from lieder to musicals Margaret will be accompanied by pianist Jonathan Ellis. (17 July)

Jonathan plays a solo recital – including works by Mozart, Mussorgsky and Scriabin, who died in 1915. Jonathan is a passionate musician and has won Fringe Awards. (24 July). New to Buxton is pianist Emmanuel Vass; he has broadcast on national radio and is touring extensively this summer promoting his new album Sonic Waves. Luckily for us Buxton is part of his schedule. (13 July)

There will be an intimate account of Gerald Finzi's cantata Dies Natalis sung by tenor Tim Kennedy accompanied by pianist John Gough. Tim and John have delighted Buxton audiences in the past with the warmth and grace of their music. (18 July). Later that day the 40-strong voices of the Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir will fill the church. The Choir has a wide-ranging repertoire and for this show will be joined by Hindle Wakes, a Manchester-based folk trio. (18 July) The Bel Canto Community Choir – with guest tenor Terence Roberson – brings a mixture of traditional song, opera, cake and summer punch to the Church (19 July - afternoon).

Finally, two very different ensembles for your pleasure. The Sovereign Saxophone Octet return with a programme of arrangements for at least four different members of the saxophone family. The Octet draw on music written over the past 600 years to showcase the range and potential of the instrument. (19 July – evening). On a similar scale – but drawing on a different tonal palette - there will be an evening of mixed chamber music including Beethoven's ever popular Septet for violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, bassoon and French horn. The performance is by the Cheshire Chamber Collective – all members of Cheshire Sinfonia. (16 July)

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Packing a Punch at Buxton Fringe!

Punch and Judy over three decades ago
Back in the early 1980s, Punch and Judy was one of the very earliest shows at Buxton Fringe. So it is fun to see this knockabout entertainment back  for 2015, this time in a version brought to Buxton by FoolSize Theatre at Underground Venues.
Having just submitted our Fringe programme to the printer, we’ve been looking closely at all our categories and can tell you that the For Families section, while by no means one of our largest, is significantly bigger than it was last year and full of gems.

Punch and Judy is just one of a number of family shows at Underground Venues including ComedySportz, in which two improv comedy teams battle it out for laughs, The Kagools, offering fast-paced physical comedy and sketches, and Fringe Award-winning Victorian magic duo Morgan & West.

Over at the Arts Centre Studio, also managed during the Fringe by Underground Venues, acclaimed local company REC Youth Theatre presents Grimm Tales, featuring some of the world’s most enthralling fairytales, and Dame for a Laugh entertains tots with Nana & Nunu – The Big Sneeze!, featuring a cuddly but snuffly aardvark!

The Pavilion Gardens is enchanting at any time but never more so than during the Fringe, when it hosts a number of fantastic children’s shows and workshops. Look out for HandMade Theatre’s Flying the Nest teaching us all about birds with the help of a giant nest, and The Magical Storytelling Yurt, courtesy of High Peak Community Arts. Fringe regulars Stone and Water are also back inviting us to make Tiny! Pirates, plus the odd mermaid. While you are in the Gardens, don’t forget to pop into our Fringe Desk at the entrance to the conservatory for a free balloon and badge.

The fun continues with shows as diverse as Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury in a double bill with Cox and Box from talented young people’s company, PB Theatricals, and the irrepressible Theo the Mouse, back with an all-new circus-themed show. 

One of our Fringe reviewers described kids’ shows as his ‘guilty pleasure’. I can confirm that they are lots of fun for all ages so let’s spread the word about these top quality shows and performers. It’s also worth remembering that there are a host of little smiley faces dotted about the Fringe what’s on listings. These are not just because we are so happy – they are used by performers to suggest events in all sections that might be suitable for families. Our very own Fringe Sunday at the Pavilion Gardens bandstand on the afternoon of July 12 is just one of these so do bring your kids along to discover why Buxton Fringe is one of England’s very friendliest Fringes whatever your age.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Another box ticked.

Well that election business was more straightforward than most of us had supposed it would be. 259 weeks until the next dose of political swings and roundabouts.

Back to the Buxton Fringe,though. Today was a big day for us, we saw the printer's final proofs for our 52-page full-colour programme and signed it off. 18,000 programmes on recycled paper expected before the end of May. We'll be working hard to get them out to as many distribution points as we can from then on. We have hundreds of places to deliver to - if you think you might be able to help on that task please let us know. We always welcome help!

You may have read already that we have 171 separate events planned for the 19 days of the Fringe. In the last Blog post we identified some of the options available to you on Day 1 - Wednesday, July 8th. On Day 2 there are many further choices to make. Here are some possibilities that offer a varied day's entertainment and stimulation.

High Peak Community Arts runs a number of projects - one of which is Project eARTh. Some of the work resulting from the Project will be unveiled in the Pavilion Gardens Conservatory on Thursday July 9th. Caroline Chouler-Tissier has been working with many young artists and we look forward to seeing the results throughout the Fringe.

You could then nip to the Museum to hear Jim MacCool's Parliament of Fowls. Now this is free and a one-off. So that makes attendance pretty much mandatory - what is there to lose? This is a brand-new version of Geoffrey Chaucer's parable dream vision of a woman's right to choose NOT to choose, Jim's rhyme royal brings the poem into the present day whilst preserving its St Valentine's Day charm, with music to suit.

For some of us 1984 seems just 5 minutes ago: so a show called 2084 is just around the corner. 2084 is a brand new show featuring original songs by Steve Roberts and Matt Hill. A song cycle set in the future where your every thought, movement and word are under surveillance. The world premiere is in Buxton at 5.15pm at Underground Venues.

Stay in Underground Venues for comedy at 7pm with Sajeela Kershi and her new show Shallow Halal. Sajeela has been on the comedy circuit for 2006 - but we think this is her first appearance in Buxton. She describes herself and this show in these terms: a Muslim agnostic Sajeela is sitting on the faith fence. She's fed up with the fanatic atheists and the religious fundamentalists who try to tell her how she should feel and behave. We think this is a show to catch.
Stick at Underground for some theatre to round-off the evening. Lilly Posnett has reworked the Cinderella story and tells it from the point of view of the Ugly Sisters (8.45 - 9.30pm) and Together in Electric Dreams (10-11pm) invites you to listen in to a dinner party with Sir Clive Sinclair and Lord Alan Sugar. Set is 1986 this is described as a comedy drama and was well-received when it premiered in 2012. We welcome this revival which is touring the north-west this summer.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Nine weeks to go

St Mary's Church, Dale Road, Buxton

Tomorrow the UK goes to the polls - and if the pundits are to be believed negotiations about who will be in or out of the next government should be concluded by the time Buxton Fringe starts in nine weeks time. No doubt Italian Fringers are comfortable about periods of political uncertainty but we are used to things being tidy and sharply concluded. The idea of spending weeks arguing about governmental legitimacy - whilst a change from talk of the weather and the pathetic English cricket team - would be hard to bear.

What we like to call "England's biggest summer open access arts festival" now has 171 events listed in its programme. Buxton Festival Fringe opens on Wednesday July 8th with 13 separate events - starting at 9.30 in the morning and going right through to 11.00 at night.

You could have a relaxing day taking in four art exhibitions at the Buxton Museum and the Green Man Gallery - which are adjacent and just up the hill on the way to the market place. If you need sustenance there is a deli - Bon Appetit  - next door, or a choice or pubs and restaurants all around the market place.

Beyond the market place is St Mary's Church built in the Arts & Crafts style; it is worth a visit in any case but all the more so during the Fringe. On our opening Wednesday there will be a feast of South African music and song. From 5-6pm Drum Tribe play the first of nine shows. Drum Tribe have played to 1,000,000 people in 25 countries but this is their first visit to Buxton. They promise an interactive show and audience members get to play.

At 7pm The Soweto Spiritual Singers take the floor for what should be a rousing and joyous hour of song. The Singers were at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and one reviewer wrote: The Singers know how to dazzle and excite their audience. Pitch-perfect songs in a variety of tones and paces unfold, each as pleasing as the previous. Energetic, playful soloists relay one another with professionalism and unwavering confidence. The show is pure spectacle, indulging in numerous pleasing costume changes - from the elegant, to the shimmering, to the colourful.

You might want to unwind a little and stroll back down towards The Crescent for something a little different later in the evening. If so Underground Venues - based in the cellars of the Old Hall Hotel - may be just the ticket. Their opening night of comedy and theatre sees the return to Buxton of Danny Pensive, Lifecoach. If it is not comedy you are after Cameryn Moore reprises 'Phone Whore (A one-act play with frequent interruptions)'. Last year's reviewer reported: There are no secrets, nothing to hide, and extremely little held back. It’s a frank, honest, and funny production that chronicles an evening with Larissa while she’s working, takes moments out to talk about what she does and take a hold on her emotions.

You'd still have time to get to The Old Clubhouse - sampling Mobberley Fine Ale's special brew 'Fringe Thespian' - to hear violin-hero Graham Clark team-up with Will Hawthorne for a late-night session of film soundtracks from the Sixties. Sounds like a perfect end to Day 1 (of 19) at Buxton Festival Fringe.

Buxton Fringe

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Happy Bardweek

In the week that sees the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death it seems fitting that we should highlight the exciting range of Bard-themed work on offer at this year's Fringe.

A couple of theatre companies return to Buxton with distinctive approaches to Shakespeare's work. Butterfly are performing As You Like It in Poole's Cavern from 20-25 July. With three, one-hour shows every evening you have little excuse to miss this - but there will be just 40 tickets for each performance and they will sell quickly. This will be an event with magic all of its own.

The Smooth-Faced Gentlemen have lit-up recent Buxton Fringes. For 2015 they bring back their brilliant adaptation of Titus Andronicus and premiere their version of Othello. The Gentlemen (an all-women company) are in town from 12-18 July and perform at the Arts Centre Studio. Past productions have been blisteringly pacey and passionate tellings of Shakespeare's stories with a faithful adherence to the texts.

Smaller in scale, but no less ambitious, is King Lear (Alone). At The Old Clubhouse from 23-25 July this is a new play by Edinburgh Fringe award-winning playwright Frank Bramwell. A thought-provoking reworking of the original, using the words of Shakespeare. This fascinating play takes us along Lear's journey following Cordelia's death, to re-examine the original themes and insights, from a completely different angle.

The mood will be very different at Underground Venues when a cast of two takes on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Uproot Theatre Company have stripped the play down to an hour, and there will be three performances between 14-18 July.

No Buxton Fringe would be complete with the Shakespeare Jukebox and small, but perfectly formed, ensemble will perform much-loved scenes from some of the best-known plays. Performances take place on the Opera House forecourt on many evenings throughout the Fringe. This high-energy show is Free - but please give generously to collections for local charities.

In the Dance category is Fringe award-winning performer Makoto Inoue with Clown Macbeth, a brand-new, non-verbal version of the Scottish play. Taking its inspiration from the traditional dances of Okinawa, Japan's most cultural and spiritual island, the show is a physical fusion of Western and Eastern influences and genres. Makoto dances between 18-21 July.

Finally, there are two shows that take their inspiration from Shakespeare. At midday on 18 July the Ukulele Orchestra joins in a genre-crashing supergroup with Elizabeth Kenny's Theatre of the Ayre, singing songs across the centuries and playing lute, theorbo, cittern, Renaissance guitar… and ukuleles. The playlist shows the common ground between rock and baroque from Shakespeare's King's Men to The King. This is happening at St John's Church and is likely to be one the biggest events on the Fringe this year.

Taking issue with Will is Emma Bentley who uses comedy, clown, and storytelling to tackle the trials and tribulations of playing Shakespeare's men, without a codpiece. Emma will be at Underground Venues from 11-14 July.

The Buxton Fringe 2015 programme is now complete - with 171 events and 570 separate performances. We'll be previewing it all over the coming weeks - and the printed programme will be available from 1st June. Meanwhile you can see what you have to look forward to on our website.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Music On Tap

Thanks to some independent and enterprising people the quality of bars and cafes around 'old Buxton' has improved a lot in recent years. Happily many of those places are Fringe venues too. Buxton Brewery produces a whole host of award-winning beers and these are available at the Buxton Tap House. Over the course of the Fringe there are also eight nights of free, top quality, live, music-making. Jade Robb, the general manager at The Tap House, sent us this summary of Music On Tap for Fringe 2015.

Tuesday 14th July - Honeyfeet 
A three piece band mixing old folk forms, blues, grooves and jazz chords to create a unique style of their own. VERY SPECIAL GIG!
Wednesday 15th July - Skutchmanos
Skutchmanos deliver a hypnotic clash of dynamic acoustic, instrumental music; pounding, playful, well-journeyed and metamorphic! (Appearing live at Beatherder and Kendal Calling)
Thursday 16th July - Rach & John
Lovely acoustic cover duo from nearby Ashbourne. Easy listening with gorgeous guitar and vocals
Friday 17th July - Rodina
Back for the second time, this time with an even bigger line up! Rodina showcases contemporary jazz at it's finest. Groove the night away with this evening of jazzy entertainment
Tuesday 21st July - Tom Kitching & Gren Bartley
Our favourites to grace the Tap House. Superbly talented Tom & Gren love coming back here to play beautiful folk tales on guitar, fiddle and banjo. Both exceptionally good songwriters and performers
Wednesday 22nd July - Open Mic Night
All welcome! Calling all talented performers to grace the stage for the busiest open mic of the year. Just turn up and show us what you got!
Thursday 23rd July -12 Strings
Acoustic duo that play a complete mix from 50's to modern covers. A sure fire hit to get you up and dancing
Friday 24th July - Emlyn Vaughan & Friends
Emlyn always brings a fantastic line up to any gig here at The Tap. Expect fantastic jazz and country blues with some rock and funk!

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Emily Selke: Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

When Daniel Stiker, the executive and artistic director of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, talks about Emily Selke, he feels as if he’s writing a job recommendation letter.
“It’s very hard to talk about her, how great she was,” he said by phone Wednesday. “It’s an odd dichotomy. Here’s this person who just graduated from college, and now she’s not here.”
Emily Selke, a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia, and her mother, Yvonne Selke, a U.S. government contractor from Nokesville, Va., were identified as two of the three Americans presumed dead in a Tuesday plane crash in the southern French Alps, the Associated Press reported. The plane had been traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany.
Ms. Selke, the festival manager for the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, graduated from Drexel in 2013 with a bachelor of science degree in music industry. She was the type of person you instantly liked, Mr. Stiker said. She was always smiling, respectful and warm, and her laugh would put you at ease when things got tense, he said.
Xela Batchelder, organizer of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival -- which bills itself as an “innovative performing arts festival” -- and also a former professor of Ms. Selke’s at Drexel, said Ms. Selke had a positive, the-glass-is-half-full attitude.
The two met in one of Ms. Batchelder's classes and after seeing Ms. Selke’s desire to be involved in festival management, Ms. Batchelder invited her to be a part of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival. Ms. Selke also was involved in the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in 2013.
“She put herself in situations where she could learn, which is great and something I really admire about her,” Ms. Batchelder said.
Mr. Stiker also had the chance to meet Ms. Selke’s mother, who he said helped with last year’s Fringe Festival.
"When I met her mom during the festival she had the same sort of personality; you instantly wanted to be her friend," he said.
Ms. Selke had been planning to help with this year’s festival, which will be from May 8 to May 10 on the North Side, Mr. Stiker said. He plans to honor both Ms. Selke and her mother at the event.
“[Ms. Selke] definitely pulled her weight, gave great insight, really made Fringe what it is today,” Mr. Stiker said.

Buxton Fringe

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