Live music at Sandown Park Racecourse

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The Jockey Club Live are delighted to welcome PALOMA FAITH, NILE RODGERS & CHIC and SIMPLY RED to Sandown Park Racecourse this Summer, for a set of spectacular open-air concerts after racing.

Opening the season on Wednesday 20th July, double platinum and BRIT award-winning artist PALOMA FAITH will be performing an array of hits from her extensive and much-loved repertoire. Fans can expect classics such as ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ and ‘Lullaby’ as well as new songs from her fifth studio album ‘Infinite Things’.

Paloma Faith said

“I’ve been touring my recent album Infinite Things and it’s been so invigorating seeing everyone out on the road around the UK. I love nothing more than singing for you all and hearing you sing back to me. There’s nothing like it.”

The following Wednesday will mark NILE RODGERS & CHIC’s return to Sandown Park, having graced the stage in 2018. Nile Rodgers’ talent and his honourable legacy is nothing short of extraordinary, having won multiple GRAMMY awards as a composer, producer, arranger, and guitarist, he consistently challenges the boundaries of modern music. Throughout his illustrious career he’s been behind hits such ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Upside Down’, ‘I’m Coming Out’, ‘Material Girl’, ‘Like A Virgin’ plus many of CHIC’s own hits amongst a chart-topping music career spanning four decades.

Nile Rodgers said:

“Over the last few years, we’ve really enjoyed playing for The Jockey Club Live as it’s always an amazing and festive atmosphere that’s perfect for CHIC music. We can’t wait to see all of our friends for good times in 2022!”

The season will culminate on Thursday 4th August with one of the best-selling British bands of all time, SIMPLY RED. Led by songwriter and bandleader Mick Hucknall, they have over a billion hits on YouTube and have sold over 60 million albums worldwide – with five going to the number one spot in the UK. Their 1991 classic ‘Stars’ was the best-selling album for two years running in Britain and Europe, plus they continued this monumental success across the pond with two US Billboard chart toppers in classic singles ‘Holding Back The Years’ and ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’. Their 2019 album ‘Blue Eyed Soul’ marked their 14th top 10 studio album in the UK.

Mick Hucknall, Simply Red said

“I’ve spent most of my life going out and singing for people, and it has felt strange not to have that for such a long time. It’s wonderfully inspiriting that people can go and see bands again now, and we can’t wait to get back on stage.”

Returning to a full-strength line-up in 2022, The Jockey Club Live concerts at Sandown Park Racecourse are a staple in the region’s social calendar. Over the past few years, the racecourse has hosted thousands of fans of live music for unforgetting evenings of racing ahead of performances from artists including George Ezra, Olly Murs and Tom Jones.

Tickets for Paloma Faith, Nile Rodgers & CHIC and Simply Red are available now via thejockeyclublive.co.uk. There will be hospitality packages available to suit all budgets.

Star Q&A: Kim Wilde

Liz Nicholls

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Kim Wilde chats to Liz Nicholls about performing at Heritage Live, alongside Boy George, Lulu, Gabrielle & more, including Ardingly on Saturday, 16th July and Englefield House on Saturday, 23rd July.

Q. Hello Kim – where are you chatting from right now? “From home. I’ve got a beautiful garden – it should be after the inordinate time I’ve spent on it! Everything that could be out is out looking amazing. Because of my experience and because of my love of flowers I’ve got lots more flowers to look forward to later in the summer. I don’t have a favourite flower but I have a real soft spot for roses – we called our daughter Rose.”

Q. We’re looking forward to seeing you at Heritage Live. How does it feel to be out on tour again? “Great! I think top of the list of things people really missed over the pandemic was live music; getting together with a crowd of like-minded souls and singing their heart out. Music has a great way of bringing people together in a beautiful way. It does a much better job than most other things in achieving that. I’ve already been doing quite a few gigs and the atmosphere has been noticeably ecstatic. Not just because they’re coming to see me – haha – but we’re all so excited to be back together. These are great days to be a live musician.”

Q. Your dad Marty is on tour right now – do you still enjoy going on stage with him? “Yes! I’ve been hitching a lift in the back of his car, jumping on stage for a few numbers, I just love it! I’ll continue to do that if I’m not working. It’s fantastic being on stage with my dad – his voice is still amazing and his ability to perform is astonishing for his years [83]. I think keeping going, doing what you love keeps you young. He’s no gym bunny, my dad, but he does a lot of golf, a lot of walking, always has done. He doesn’t smoke any more, and he drinks very moderately. I think it’s in the genes.”

Q. Yes – your whole family, including your children, all have musical genes? “It has definitely descended through the generations. Not just in my family but my brother’s family and sister’s family, so it seems to be in the blood.”

Q. Do you have a rider? “I do but I’m very easy to look after before a gig. I don’t really eat much – maybe a few sweeties but I don’t ask anyone to take out different colours for me and I don’t drink alcohol.”

Q. Is it nice to hang out with your old mate Boy George, who is also starring? “It’s great. We’ve done a lot of things together over the years – all kinds of TV and concerts and benefits – we have a real shared history. We recorded a song together which went on my greatest hits album called Shine On. So yeah I can’t wait to see him again. He’s a wonderful person to be around.”

Q. What is it about 1980s music that is so popular – even with younger people now? “It’s very eclectic, you know? Everything was in the 1980s – it wasn’t just sharp haircuts, shoulder pads and synthesisers – there was a lot of prog rock, rock soul, disco, R&B. All kinds of different grooves all happening in parallel. There was something for everybody and it all came under that beautiful umbrella that we call pop.”

Q. What new artists do you like? “I’m listening a lot to Lizzo, really enjoying what she does and how she’s doing it. Thomas Paul, too; I did a bit of work with him over lockdown on his first album Black Country Disco which is awesome! I went to his album launch for Life In Plastic the other night at the Vauxhall Tavern which was fantastic.”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “I was born in 1960 and the first memories I can trace back are ’67 & ’68 when I was seven and eight. The Beatles – listening to Penny Lane in the back of the car, while my dad was driving us up to Liverpool to see my nan. I remember Cilla Black Anyone Who Had A Heart and Richard Harris MacArthur Park and Gene Pitney 24 Hours from Tulsa. All these beautiful epic songs.”

Q. Thanks Kim we can’t wait to see you. “Thank you! And may I just say that anyone who misses these shows can come to my Pop Won’t Stop Greatest Hits Tour in September when I’ll be up and down the country. There’s a lot of sadness and there are terrible things in the world right now, but there’s a lot of beauty too, so don’t think it’s wrong to focus on that.”

Visit heritagelive.net & kimwilde.com

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Star Q&A: Katherine Jenkins

Liz Nicholls

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Liz Nicholls chats to mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE ahead of her performance at Henley Festival, 6th-10th July.

Q. Hello Katherine! You’ve performed for popes, presidents and princes as well as that wonderful Jubilee performance for The Queen. Which of these, if any, has made you the most nervous? “I was nervous the very first time I performed for The Queen, at the Festival of Remembrance in Albert Hall, especially because you have the afternoon performance then The Queen comes for the evening performance which made me more and more more nervous! And as I’ve become more of a fan over the years I’ve actually become more nervous. You never get blasé about singing for her. Anyone backstage at these events who says ‘oh I’m not that bothered’ I just don’t believe them! The Queen always makes me want to do my best. Because of the admiration I have for her I think that it makes me want to pull out my best performance because that’s what she deserves.”

Q. You’ve met The Queen several times – how have you found her? “I’ve just always found her to be really warm and really good at knowing what to ask you, very interested in what you’re up to. When you see her at formal events but she’s quite witty and funny. I’m a real fan. I’ve grown up in a household who are real fans of hers. And I think as I get older the more I meet her the more I’m impressed by her and admire her – I think she’s an amazing woman. With the celebration at Windsor the whole audience were so thrilled to see her and be in her presence. It was incredibly emotional in terms of seeing that love for her. I remember once being at Buckingham Palace for an event to help musicians at Christmas, being in a line-up next to Brian May and she said oh yes you’re the one who keeps making all that noise on my roof! She’s very quick – she’s made some very funny comments over the years.”

Q. Are you looking forward to Henley Festival and are there any other acts you want to catch? “I listen to all kinds of music. I very much like Craig David [who stars on 7th July], I think Tom Jones is on on the Friday [8th July]. He’s a friend of mine. The thig is about Henley is I’ve been there as a performer and I’ve been there as an audience member. And it’s so much fun as an event that I don’t think I can allow myself to go prior to me performing, if I want to sing well on the Sunday. I want to be in good voice. I do go every year but this is my third time performing. I went last year for Sophie Ellis Bextor. I’ve seen Tom Odell. Whether you’re in the audience, or a performer, there just isn’t an event like it. It’s such a cool occasion, including the fact that the audience are better dressed than you are – it’s a very quintessential British event and I’m excited. I have friends who live in the area, I love the beautiful countryside around there.”

Q. You are an inspirational charity patron & ambassador – is helping others something that was instilled in you by your parents? “Definitely. One of my early memories at primary school was my mum fundraising for a minibus. She never sat still, whether it was for the school or church, there was always some kind of fundraising. I think when you see that at a young age you do inherit that. I’m so grateful that she did give us that sense of responsibility. If you have any kind of success in any field you should pay the good stuff forward. There’s a lot of different charities that are near to my heart but I try to choose ones I can make a difference in.”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “My mum teaching me I’m a Little Teapot and standing there singing that for anyone who came into our house, putting on a show. When I think of my childhood, I feel like there’s a soundtrack, a lot of church music, male voice choirs, all those opportunities that come with growing up in south Wales. I look back and wonder: would I be in this position today if I hadn’t had that around me?”

Q. Are there any up-and-coming music stars you love? “I work with quite a lot of singers that are coming out of the Royal Academy of Music. Quite a lot of young singers have reached out to me for advice, about the business, how to get a job, and I’m so happy to help out. It’s a very small industry and. Mum and I didn’t believe it was going to happen for me because we didn’t know anyone in this industry, the entertainment sphere at all. So if I can help with connections and advice than I’m so happy to do that. But I can’t choose one to sing the praises of because that would be too hard!”

Q. What’s your favourite book? All the books I’m reading at the moment are parenting books. I have a daughter who’s nearly seven and I’m constantly reading to get ahead of the next stage.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world what would it be? “Kindness – that’s the root of everything. That we can be kind to each other, to the planet – remember that we’re custodians of it, pass it on. Let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.”

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Star Q&A: James Blunt

Liz Nicholls

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Musician & dad James Blunt, 48, chats to Liz Nicholls ahead of his performances at Cornbury & more festivals this summer…

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “My parents wouldn’t allow music at home. Even nursery rhymes were banned. My sister and I would whisper the melody to American Pie through the bars of our bunk bed.”

Q. Thank you for championing the great British boozer! What’s the recipe for a perfect pub? “A fire burning in the corner, You’re Beautiful playing on the jukebox, and me pulling pints behind the bar. You can find all of this at The Fox & Pheasant in Chelsea.”

Q. We love your acerbic humour on social media. Did the Army sharpen this skill? “I was sent to an all-boys’ boarding school when I was seven and yes, the Army then removed any last bits of emotion.”

Q. How do you feel about the return of get-togethers & festivals this year? “Get-togethers in the Cotswolds never stopped, I’m told… But the return of festivals is very exciting. I’ve missed the energy of lots of people coming together.”

Q. What’s your essential piece of festival kit? “A car battery for the fridge.”

Q. What’s your stand-out festival moment? “I’ve played Glastonbury three times, the Pyramid Stage twice. The second time, I crowdsurfed, and when I returned, discovered the stage was too high for me to climb on to. There was a man I didn’t recognise on stage, so I started shouting at him to help me, then realised he was holding a camera, filming for the BBC, so I was basically shouting ‘HELP ME!’ to the nation. It was this moment I realised I was the least cool person in the music business.”

Q. Who on the summer festival bill are you looking forward to seeing? “The Darkness! I toured with them round Australia and Japan in about 2006, and they are GREAT fun.”

Q. What’s your favourite book, film & piece of music? “Book: The Snail and The Whale. The film Up! – the first seven minutes reduced me to tears. I love Chill Out by The KLF. It’s just a beautiful journey round America told by two Scotsmen using borrowed sound effects.”

Q. How was lockdown for you? “I was very lucky to be able to go home and spend time with my family. I learnt how to use a chainsaw, and defend my house from a gang of thieves who tried to rob me three times.”

Q. Any unsung hero musician who deserves the spotlight? “I think I’m quite underrated.”

Q. What lesson did parenthood teach you? “Go on tour for at least the first nine months.”

Q. If you could make one wish, what would it be? “That humans would make the changes necessary to curb our impact on the planet, because if we don’t, we’re going to be f***ed much faster than we think. I spend time in the mountains, and have seen the glaciers shrink over the years, and I live in the Mediterranean and there are very few fish left in the sea.”

Visit cornbury festival.com & jamesblunt.com

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A future proofed home

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As we get older, our housing needs change. The family house can suddenly seem too big and expensive to manage, the stairs that bit trickier, and the efforts we have to go to maintain it all leave us little time or energy to do the things we want to spend time doing.

Downsizing for a better quality of life makes sense but bungalows are scarce and command such premium prices you’re unlikely to free up enough money to enjoy that dream retirement. Then there’s stamp duty, fees, the likelihood you’ll have to spend more money on whatever you buy to make it suitable to grow old in – all this means many end-up staying put.

The specialist developer of contemporary retirement properties, Birchgrove, offers modern and spacious apartments in Kent and Surrey. Each apartment is individually designed to maximise space and light and has the Birchgrove trademark of high-quality finishes so that the apartments are distinctly elegant.

All apartments are specifically designed for people in later life, featuring waist height appliances in the fully fitted kitchens for easy access and en-suite showers. All doors and corridors are wheelchair accessible for freedom of movement.

Residents have access to exclusive onsite amenities such as a restaurant, bar, club room, a communal terrace, exercise studio, landscaped gardens and greenhouse. Regular events and activities programme also contribute to the friendly community lifestyle, and for added peace of mind there is a concierge and 24 hour staff presence.

One thing that will strike you when you visit a Birchgrove retirement community, is how friendly the team are. Because the apartments are not for sale, you’ll find that the Advisors are not trying to sell you anything, rather they are there to help you consider your options and act as a guide for you whilst you make your own choices about how and where you want to live.

If you find yourself needing a little extra assistance, our tailored care support is offered through our homecare specialist partners who can personalise a care package for your individual requirements.

In addition, all apartments are fitted with a digital telecare console to offer residents assistance at the touch of a button. Residents can use the console to contact the concierge desk, look up what they want for dinner, book appointments and connect with their family and friends: as well as a discreet 24/7 emergency call service that can call for immediate assistance if needed.

If you would like to find out more about living at a Birchgrove retirement community, contact the team who will happily talk through the options and tailor something that works to support your individual needs. Call 020 3929 5599 or visit www.birchgrove.life

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Star Q&A: Toyah Willcox

Liz Nicholls

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Musician Toyah Willcox, who turns 64 this month, shares her excitement for a summer of festivals, including Let’s Rock where she is set to star…

Hello! Given the past two years, do you think 2022 could be the most joyous ever? “2022 will be joyous – the artists have missed the audience and the audience have missed the artists. It’s going to be one big party. Let’s Rock is very special because not only are there back-to-back acts all day who are brilliant and iconic, but also the atmosphere is so friendly and family-orientated. You can look out over an audience and sometimes see three generations of the same family. They are a joyous community with one thing in common – they all love the 1980s! I love performing with the Let’s Rock band (sensationally good musicians). We also get to see the friends we’ve been performing with for decades… for 40 years.”

Q. Are there any other performers you’re looking forward to seeing? “I always end up on the same plane and same hotel as Chesney Hawkes, all over the world… Somehow fate brings us together and we have a scream. Chesney lives in the States, I live in the UK, but we walk into the same room in the oddest places and say ‘What are you doing here?!”’

Q. Which musician, living or dead, would you most like to see perform? “Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley, Robert Plant (with me) and Talk Talk.”

Q. What is your strongest memory of appearing on Top Of The Pops? “Top Of The Pops was an event, every time. It’s a show I used to watch with my family and to be on it was an honour. On my first appearance there was a mini disaster when my costume didn’t arrive and I had to wear a dress I bought as a back-up. Ironically, I think it made me more approachable to the Top Of The Pops audience – less confrontational, image-wise.”

Q. Have you kept any souvenirs from the 1980s? “I have warehouses full of every on-stage costume/every acting costume I’ve ever worn, as well as every photoshoot. They are my life, a life I am immensely proud of.”

Q. What other plans do you have for 2022? “I have three sold-out tours this year, including Toyah & Lene Lovich’s Electric Ladies UK tour in June, followed by the Toyah Anthem Tour in autumn to celebrate of the re-release of my 1981 platinum album Anthem. I will also be making two albums – a reimagining of my 2019 album In The Court Of The Crimson Queen, whilst the second album will be recorded in September and is the follow-up to my 2021 no.1. album, Posh Pop. In the last two years I’ve had four Top 10 albums – Posh Pop out-sold Queen, Metallica and Justin Timberlake in its first week.”

Tickets & more at letsrockthemoor.com

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Lifelong learning and mental fitness

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You don’t have to run a four-minute mile…

…to follow in the footsteps of Roger Bannister.

On a windy day in May 1954, a 25-year-old medical student broke track and field’s most famous barrier – the four-minute mile. Roger Bannister won fame at Oxford’s Iffley Road track, with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.

Bannister, who’d been born into a working-class family, showed promise in education as well as running. After retiring from athletics, he enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a neurologist. He made the Queen’s Honours list twice for his contributions to sport. Then, in his 70s, he returned to his studies – by taking short courses at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education.

Bannister knew that mental fitness carries many of the same benefits as physical fitness, including improved health, mental resilience and longevity. As a research neurologist, he would have understood brain plasticity – how a stimulated brain forms new synaptic connections at any age. Many studies (including one published in The Lancet in July 2017) cites educational attainment and lifelong learning as among the most important factors in preventing one-third of future dementia cases.

Among the topics Bannister explored as an adult learner were the philosophies of Hegel and Wittgenstein, the politics of Asia and America, the making of modern Europe, the history of the Cold War, and the archaeology of Roman Britain.

He went on to complete a longer course too – an Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing. Bannister joked with his poetry tutor that writing a villanelle was harder to achieve than breaking the four-minute mile.

For most of us, breaking a record in track and field is off the table – but lifelong learning is always well within reach. You can follow Sir Roger Bannister’s example at Oxford, choosing from more than 1000 short courses and longer programmes, taught both in Oxford and online.

Learn more: www.conted.ox.ac.uk

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Star Q&A: Steve Backshall

Liz Nicholls

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Explorer, naturalist, presenter & dad Steve Backshall MBE, 48, talks to Liz Nicholls ahead of his Ocean show at a venue near you.

Hi Steve. Can you tell us a bit about your Ocean show? “Yes! We’re bringing marine scenes to the stage, creating the undersea environment inside a theatre which is quite a challenge! Marine creatures will be brought to life through the use of props, life-size replicas of the largest animal ever known on our planet, footage on the giant screen, and interactivity. It’s going to be a blast.”

Q. Is the shark your favourite animal? “It’s up there. One of the things I find most fascinating is that even the sharks we have here in our seas we know little about. Even recently, people used to think basking sharks hibernated, lying on the sea bed for winter. But now we know about their fascinating mating and parenting lives. To me they are the most majestic prehistoric, but not primeval, predators on the planet. There are fewer than ten people every year killed by sharks, but we have this impression of them as malicious, man-eating monsters out to get us. And that’s simply not true.”

Q. You’ve been bitten by a caiman, crawled on by a redback and have only respect for animals. But has any experience scared you? “With animals it’s rare but one stands out. We were diving with crocodiles in Botswana and a hippo came out of the murk and approached within metres of us. I’d say you could have tossed a coin as to whether we lived or died in that situation.”

Q. Did growing up on a smallholding in Bagshot inspire your love of wildlife? “Yes. I had such a halcyon childhood surrounded by our old asthmatic donkey, psychotic ‘guard dog’ geese, guinea fowl, peacocks… Every one was a rescue animal that had been given a second chance of life with us. They were our friends, our housemates.”

Q. What was your favourite book growing up? “Call Of The Wild by Jack London. I still even now read it and get the hackles going up at the back of my neck. Once I got a little bit older Alfred Russell Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago took over.”

Q. Do you love your local wildlife in Marlow? “Absolutely! I now find my best wildlife encounters are not in the world’s most exotic places, they’re here. I’m seeing these things with fresh eyes through my kids. They’re very lucky with Helen [Glover] as their mum, a double gold-winning Olympic athlete who is amazing at everything, and from me they get a love of nature. About two months ago we saw otter spraint at the bottom of our garden and set a camera trap with the kids. We watched the swans, rats and foxes and when we got our first otter we practically blew the roof off this house. It was epic! It remains one of my fondest wildlife experiences ever. Even though I’ll probably never even see those otters with my own eyes, our world has become that little bit more exciting because we know they’re there.”

OCEAN SHOWS NEARBY

Guildford’s G Live on 7th April
Reading’s Hexagon on 14th April
Basingstoke’s Anvil on 19th April
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on 29th April
New Theatre Oxford on 4th May

Many more shows available at various locations.

Visit stevebackshall.com for info & to book.

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Music brings people together

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Haslemere Methodist Church is the venue for a series of stunning lunchtime and evening concerts 

Haslemere Methodist Church is bringing a varied programme of instrumental classical music to the community through it’s ‘music brings people together’ series of concerts. 

The project, spearheaded by flautist Susan Milan, embraces not only a concert series, but also an educational programme to inspire young musicians in local schools through workshops and a woodwind competition planned for May this year. Susan is a professor of the Royal College of Music and Trinitylaban Conservatory of Music and Founder and Director of the British Isles Music Festival

The new year brings three evening concerts given by members of the London Chamber Music Group, the resident ensemble of Haslemere Methodist Church, and three lunchtime charity concerts given by young musicians from UK conservatories of music.  

The concerts are held in the beautiful Sanctuary of the church with its friendly atmosphere and lovely acoustics.  

The next lunchtime charity concert of the year is on Thursday, 10th March at noon and this will be given by The Bauhaus Trio, young musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. Featuring Samy Okuma-Chin on violin, Josh Mountford on cello and pianist Nye Hughes-Watts, the trio will perform works by Mozart and Mendelssohn. 

Samy Okuma-Chin (violin), Nye Hughes-Watts (piano) and Josh Mountford (cello)

Admission is free with donations welcomed for charities chosen by Haslemere Methodist Church.  Enjoy cappuccino and cake in the coffee room before the concert. 

Thursday, 17th March is the date for the next evening concert with an instrumental quintet of Susan Milan (flute), Nicholas Ward (violin), Matthew Jones (viola), Sebastian Comberti (cello) and Gabriella Dall’Olio (harp). They will perform an evening of classical and romantic chamber music by Beethoven, Ravel, Ropartz and Jongen. 

Nicholas Ward (violin), Matthew Jones (viola), Susan Milan (flute), Sebastian Comberti (cello) and Gabriella Dall’Olio (harp)

Director of the London Chamber Music Group, Susan Milan said they are enjoying being the resident ensemble of the church, adding: “It is a joy to perform in the lovely Sanctuary, with its spacious seating and lovely acoustic.” 

The group is also keen to support young musicians from schools in the area, particularly wind players and a woodwind competition is being planned for ages 12-18 after Easter along with workshops for primary and secondary schools. 

Susan said: “These will be given by young professionals who performed in the British Isles Music Festival and from UK Conservatoires. State and Independent schools have no financial support from the local council for music. I would welcome donations from music lovers in the area, who, like me, wish to encourage and support the next generation of musicians and music lovers.” 

If you can help email:  

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets: £18, age 12-17: £9, under 12: free.

Enquiries telephone: 01428 652202 / 07876 198498

Email: Online: www.wegottickets.com

From: Chamberlain Music, Wey Hill, Haslemere and at the door.

Refreshments available in the interval. Doors open at 7.30pm

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Musical treats at The Watermill, Newbury

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From an enchanting folk-inspired musical to a sizzling Cuban inspired spy thriller The Watermill Theatre has a musical treat for everyone.

Highly anticipated musical The Wicker Husband returns to The Watermill Theatre from Friday 11th March to Saturday 26th March, after premature closure in 2020 due to the pandemic. A captivating show featuring ‘delightfully vivid’ Bunraku puppetry and ‘richly evocative’ music, The Wicker Husband tells the timeless tale of the outsider.

In a superficial world, meet the so-called ‘Ugly Girl’. Ostracised by the shallow townsfolk because she doesn’t fit in, the Ugly Girl becomes the envy of her neighbours when the mysterious Old Basketmaker makes her a strong and loving husband woven from living wicker. As bitter rivalry and jealousy threaten to tear the community apart, the townsfolk embark on a cruel and destructive plan. Will the Ugly Girl’s happiness be ruined forever?

Get 2 for 1 tickets to The Wicker Husband, with thanks to the National Lottery’s Love Your Local Theatre campaign. More information can be found on the theatre’s website. Tickets from £15.

The Watermill’s second musical of the season is Our Man In Havana running from Thursday 7th April to Saturday 21st May. A roller coaster comedy full of colourful characters and uplifting Cuban inspired songs. This new musical is based on Graham Greene’s iconic novel that cleverly satirises the fine line between truth and lies.

It’s 1958 and Havana is on the brink of revolution. All day and night, the streets are filled with dancing and the shadows are filled with criminals. In the midst of the warm tropical air, an English vacuum cleaner salesman lives a quiet life running a modest business, raising his teenage daughter Milly and collecting miniature whisky bottles.

Just as Milly’s love of shopping reaches new heights, James Wormold receives an offer from the British Secret Intelligence Service that is too good to refuse. What Wormold lacks in sleuthing experience, he makes up for with imagination. Nothing stays quiet for long in Havana and his life is soon turned upside down when the fictional events of his intelligence reports start to come true! Tickets from £15.

Fascinated to find out what happens behind the scenes? Join writing duo Ben Morales Frost and Richard Hough who will talk about bringing Our Man in Havana to the stage at a Creative Insights event on Tuesday 12th April. Tickets £24, includes lunch and a ticket for the talk.

Book tickets via The Watermill’s website watermill.org.uk or by call the box office on 01635 46044.

Principal Sponsor: Saica Pack

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