Southern Pro Musica’s two new concerts

Round & About

Guildford

Southern Pro Musica has two exciting concerts for the new year. Songs from the Shows: Musical highlights from stage and screen on Friday, 14th January

Start the new year with a sensational show featuring Songs from the Shows courtesy of Southern Pro Musica at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Following the last two sell-out collaborations with the superb singers from Guildford School of Acting, Southern Pro Musica is delighted to return on Friday, 14th January, to once again present an evening of musical dazzle. There’ll be numbers from the very best Broadway and West End hits, as well as the most enduring film scores, compèred by Julian Woolford and under the baton of renowned conductor Jonathan Willcocks.

The audience will enjoy spirited ensemble numbers such as ‘Hello, Dolly!’, ‘The Best of Times’ and ‘I won’t send roses’ by Jerry Herman; ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ by Irving Berlin and much more. The orchestra will bring you iconic film music by John Williams – Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark; the Great Escape music by Elmer Bernstein; the Pink Panther theme, to name a few. This will be an evening for all lovers of music theatre and film.

To purchase tickets go to www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk, call 01483 440 000.

G Live will host Family Classics: Fun with classical music for all the family on Sunday, 20th March.

This popular annual event provides the opportunity for people of all ages to have a go at trying all sorts of musical and percussion instruments in workshops led by Southern Pro Musica musicians. The afternoon will be rounded off with a fun classical concert performed by the full professional SPM orchestra with exciting, family-friendly classical music, a narrated musical story and a song for the audience to join in with. There’ll also be guest appearances by SPM’s ‘Strictly Strings’ scheme pupils from Sandfield, St Thomas, Boxgrove and RGS Prep School, as well Guildford High Junior School Lower Choir.

To purchase tickets go to www.GLive.co.uk, call 0343 310 0055.

Southern Pro Musica is firmly established as one of the leading freelance professional chamber orchestras in the south of England. It includes among its core players many of the finest orchestral players to base their work in the south. In 2013 Southern Pro Musica was appointed by Guildford Borough Council as their ‘principal provider of Classical music’, encompassing a broad range of orchestral concerts and educational outreach work in Guildford.

Entrance is FREE to all Music for Guildford concerts for 18s and under.

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Star Q&A: Martin Jarvis

Liz Nicholls

Guildford

Actor Martin Jarvis OBE tells us about life, love and turning 80 as he prepares to star as Ted Heath in Michael McManus’ smash hit play Maggie & Ted at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud this month

Q. Maggie & Ted sounds a wonderful play. Has playing Ted changed your understanding of Sir Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher? And do you think Ted was entitled to his “Incredible Sulk”? “Yes, it’s an extraordinary play. Brilliantly observant. Very funny! Surprisingly moving at times. The author Michael McManus was Ted’s Private Secretary. He has based so much of his play on personal recollections. So if, as ‘Ted’ I ever wanted to question a line or speech in the drama, ie ‘Would Heath ever say this? Michael is likely to reply ‘Well he did, I was there!’ Haha!

I once had the pleasure of actually meeting him. He suddenly arrived at a wine-bar/restaurant where my wife [Rosalind Ayres] and I were dining. He hadn’t booked and he and his eight young musician companions needed a table. With the help of the manageress, Ros and I relinquished ours. As we withdrew to park ourselves near the door he turned to us and, with immense charm and his familiar widening smile, announced: ‘Thank you so much. Very grateful.’

So that’s where I have begun in inhabiting the fascinating, and as I learnt, complex character of Edward Heath. Unexpected charm. I’ve much enjoyed discovering, too, how amusing he was. His comments about Maggie are often extremely funny, though sometimes with an undertow of misogyny and deep disapproval. I don’t think he ever quite recognised how very alike they were. Their backgrounds were oddly similar. I hadn’t appreciated how lonely a person he was, even early in his political career. And how cool and comedic he could be – his television encounter with Dame Edna (which occurs in the play) is a classic. When he lost office others termed him The Incredible Sulk. Really this came from the popular television character ‘The Incredible Hulk’. I sense he quite enjoyed the pun, even using it himself in public.”

Q. Do you follow British politics now? And how do you think this Conservative government compares to the times when Maggie & Ted is set? “How could I not follow current events and policies? Some things never change. Only perhaps ways of demonstrating attitudes and disunity. Perhaps there was more apparent courtesy offered in political exchanges in those older days. But in private, the attitudes of differing personalities, points of view, mindsets, jealousies were probably just as bitter, vitriolic, corrosive. Fortunately they didn’t have to deal with the pitfalls of social media.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer starring in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud

Q. You are renowned for your acting, and mellifluous voice – how do you take care of it? Anything you don’t eat or drink? “Well, thanks. I gave up smoking when I was 16, which I presume helped a bit! I’m told singers have a glass of warm water standing by in the recording studio for the occasional sip, to keep the throat open and relaxed. And an apple ready for the odd bite to prevent the sound of ‘lip-smacks’ on the microphone. I prefer cold water and a banana! Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been a great singer!”

Q. When did you know acting was for you? Were there any actors you remember being dazzled by growing up? “When I was selected for the school Shakespeare plays (Whitgift, Croydon, Surrey) I found I had an instinctual understanding of some of the verse and characters. Thanks to an inspirational English teacher, Maurice Etherington, I discovered I could speak the text believably and make it sound natural.

Actors that dazzled me ranged from Terry-Thomas the great comic performer and the superb actor Alan Badel. And on stage and film: John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson. Later I was lucky enough to work with many of them. Not Olivier. Though I did speak to him on the phone when he rang-up to offer Ros Ayres a role. It seemed almost surreal when I asked: ‘Who’s calling?’ and he said in those recognisably crisp tones, ‘Larry Olivier!’

Gielgud gave me some wonderful advice when I was embarking on Peter Hall’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the National Theatre, with Judi Dench. ‘Acting in Wilde’ (said Sir John) is best approached with all the seriousness of taking part in an elaborate practical joke’? He was right. We found that the more deadpan and ‘earnest’ you were, how much the comedy increased.”

Q. I laughed at an interview in which you say you almost trod on the Queen… is this still your most embarrassing moment?“Ah yes, it was fairly embarrassing. At a Windsor reception I hadn’t realised that Her Majesty had suddenly arrived and was standing just behind me. I had backed, laughing at something one of our group had said – oh dear – I then turned and apologised to the queen profusely. Absurdly it didn’t end there. Some years later at a party given by Jeffrey Archer I had to edge along a row of seats in order to get to my own. Unfortunately I had, in passing, trodden on Margaret Thatcher’s toe. Again an apology. In Maggie and Ted I haven’t yet trodden on the wonderful Clare Bloomer’s foot, either by accident or design. She plays Maggie superbly and would no doubt improvise a characterful response. When I was fortunate enough to be awarded the OBE for services to Drama a friend suggested it should really have been for services to Apology.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer starring in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud

Q. What’s your first memory of music? And your favourite song? “My first music memory (if I could call it that) was my attempt at the age of five to play the xylophone in the school carol service. I hit the wood more times than the metal bars.

My favourite song? It changes all the time. Sometimes it’s Schubert’s The Trout. Sometimes, especially now that we hope the world is opening up, the emotional and rhythmic After Hours by Weeknd.

Sometimes it’s Half a Moment from Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s By Jeeves. I listened to it from the wings every night when I played Jeeves on Broadway. A genuinely moving ‘relationship’ song that gradually turns into a supremely comic rendition because of Alan’s brilliant staging.”

Q. What’s the most surprising lesson fatherhood has taught you? “That the fun and laughter goes on forever. Toby Jarvis is composer of everything from popular game show music to television ads, and the scores for plays by Ibsen, Sheridan and Wilde.

Olly Jarvis, criminal barrister, is also a best-selling author of legal thrillers, (his latest: The Genesis Inquiry.)”

Q. Having voiced so many great stories – do you read a lot for pleasure and if so who is your favourite author and why?“I read for pleasure, though very often it’s also for professional reasons. PG. Wodehouse, Michael Frayn, Christopher Matthew, Gyles Brandreth, Olly Jarvis are all authors who can make me laugh aloud – and also make me think. I’m grateful for my long association with Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories. Have just recorded five more for Radio 4 to be broadcast this Christmas. My favourite biographer is Claire Tomalin. I’m proud to have recorded so much of these remarkable writers’ work, either as a performer or as producer/director for BBC radio or audiobook.”

Q. Many happy belated returns on your 80th birthday. How do you feel in your ninth decade and how did you & will you celebrate?“Ros arranged two ‘celebrations’- a family dinner the weekend before, and a ‘friends’ dinner the weekend after. In between, business as usual. On the actual day I visited the dentist, and then recorded a voiceover for an American company. Should perhaps have been the other way round? Cold water and a banana saw me through.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “One wish can never be enough – we desperately need an end to all the various horrors that are currently being visited upon us. This short piece, A Soldier’s Dream from the 1st World War poet Wilfred Owen comes to mind. He was 24 when he wrote it, in 1917. Killed in action the next year, a week before the armistice was declared.

‘I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big guns gears;

And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;

And with a smile Mausers and Colts;

And rusted every bayonet with His tears.’

 

If only.

Q: We look forward to the play in Guildford & lots of best wishes & thank you for your time. “Thank you, Liz. I’ve always appreciated Guildford. I came here in the 1960s to audition for the Surrey Scholarship that, somehow, I was awarded. Which meant I could go to RADA and begin to really understand what it might be like to be an actor. I’m thrilled to be back.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer star in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud, 12th-16th October. Visit yvonne-arnaud.co.uk or call 01483 44 00 00 to book.

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Guildford inspires Alice In Wonderland stories

Liz Nicholls

Guildford

Take a journey through the looking glass and discover a new story based on the Alice in Wonderland tales just released by a Guildford author.

Alice Ventures Beyond Wonderland written by Robin G Smith introduces a host of new creatures to an audience of children and adults alike.

Guildford has been associated with Alice in Wonderland since author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, completed the sequel, Through the Looking Glass.

Robin has written children’s books as well as adult science-fiction and factual titles, for 20 years, but it wasn’t until lockdown he turned his skills to reimagining the world that Carroll created. Alice Ventures Beyond Wonderland introduces a new audience to a world of intriguing creatures through strange encounters yet also touches on difficult issues that we are all too familiar with today, such as bullying and identity.

Robin says: “I have always loved the two Alice in Wonderland books and wanted to see if it was possible to write something similar. I had been collecting ideas for years and lockdown gave me the opportunity to concentrate on completing the project. I’m delighted with the response I’ve already had from adults and children alike, who seem to enjoy its blend of subtle humour and contemporary issues.”

He is already planning the sequel to Alice Ventures Beyond Wonderland. Alice Ventures Beyond Wonderland is illustrated by Helena Chessher and available to buy now in hardback, paperback, and e-book from Amazon or www.treefirecreative.com

For a preview, visit www.alicebeyondwonderland.com

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Wind in the Willows

Round & About

Guildford

Join Mr Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger in GSC’s online Wind in the Willows

Motor-cars, boats and the battle for Toad Hall are all re-imagined in this unique live performance in which the award-winning GSC have joined forces with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford and Jermyn Street Theatre, London, to bring their 2015 adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic to online audiences. The production will run from June 4th to 7th.

GSC first staged the story in June 2015 amidst the gardens and woods of Watts Gallery at the foot of the Surrey Hills.

This adaptation of the 1908 family classic is now being reimagined for audiences to enjoy from their own homes. GSC has met with recent success with a series of sell-out online Murder Mystery ‘parties’, created and delivered by their own in-house team.

The 2015 Willows script is being revised for six actors and will once again be directed by Tom Littler who directed the original production.

The 75-minute show will also include elements of audience participation ensuring the immersive style of GSC’s work continues on this new platform.

Matt Pinches, GSC Co-Founder said: “We’re a site-responsive theatre company, so given the current change in our theatrical landscape, we’re excited to be exploring this new ‘site-specific’ context of live theatre online.

“Our Murder Mystery audiences clearly relished being able not only to look forward to a social event and connect with friends and family as in a real theatre, but also expressed a great desire to support their local arts organisations. We’re thrilled to be able to share this production with the audiences of our good friends at Jermyn Street and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.”

Joanna Read, Director and Chief Executive of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre said: “The Yvonne Arnaud and Guildford Shakespeare have worked together on many productions over the years. We’re pleased to be a part of this foray into producing online performance and exploring new ways of working with them, and with Jermyn Street Theatre.”

Tom Littler, Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre (JST), who also directs, said: “Kenneth Grahame’s enchanting story has been a favourite for grown-ups and children alike for over a century. It’s a novel about the gifts of friendship. Many of us use Zoom for a meeting or a family birthday, but now we’re going to transform it into a place of magic, wonder, and some very naughty weasels. I can’t wait to get back to the Wild Wood and the riverbank.”

Performances are on: Thursday 4th, 7pm; Friday 5th, 3pm & 7pm; Saturday 6th, 3pm & 7.30pm and Sunday 7th, 3pm & 7pm.

Tickets are £20 per device (max two people per device) and are strictly limited.

Running Time 75 mins (approx.)

Book now

Booking via GSC Box Office only

Guildford Jazz Fest

Round & About

Guildford

The team behind Guildford Jazz are getting ready to hold their first festival this month
with a variety of jazz –as well as funk and Latin – on the bill

Guildford Jazz are getting ready to blow their own trumpet as the first Guildford Jazz Fest is set to take place between 20th and 22nd March.

The three-day event at Guildford’s Electric Theatre will feature music from leading UK jazz, Latin and funk artists and begins on 20th by putting some of the best young jazz musicians from across Surrey in the spotlight, from small ensembles to big bands.

Ease yourself into Saturday with a New Orleans jazz brunch with live music from clarinet maestro Duncan Batchelor and his quartet. Follow that with a wide choice of jazz styles including rising star of the British jazz scene Nicolas Meier who is influenced by his love of Middle Eastern and Turkish music; funk and world-music roller coaster from renowned trombonist Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio and Sandy Burnett reliving The Age of Jazz.

Rounding off Saturday, Pete Churchill sings jazz before headliner Iain Ballamy performs 21st Century Pastoral, an arrangement for big band of music by Ballamy spanning his 30-year career.

Sunday brings Alan Barnes and Dave Newton before a Creole jazz lunch spices things up ahead of the afternoon offerings featuring a tribute to the music of Henry Mancini from The Mark Nightingale/Alan Barnes/Steve Waterman Sextet before a showing of classic Buster Keaton film Steamboat Bill, Jr featuring live musical accompaniment by Gareth Williams, one of the country’s leading modern jazz pianists.

Photos from left: Ian Ballamy, event poster, Marianne Windham

The festival finishes with Latin jazz salsa 
courtesy of Heads South combining Cuban and other Latin rhythms.

Founder of Guildford Jazz which is behind the festival, Marianne Windham is excited about the first for the community-based arts organisation.

She said: “The festival represents a celebration of all that Guildford Jazz is about: bringing the finest UK jazz musicians to Guildford to play a wide spectrum of accessible music in a friendly-club like atmosphere. There is something for everyone in the programme whether you are just looking for great live music or are a committed jazzer.”

Guildford Jazz has been running regular events since 2011, has organised more than 250 gigs, holds two outdoor concerts a year as well as hosting a monthly jam session.

All profits from the festival will go the local charity partner Guildford Philanthropy which helps local people disadvantaged by disability, poor education, mental illness or caring responsibilities.

Find more details

For more details and to book tickets click below or call 01483 501200.

Star of Wonder

Round & About

Guildford

Lucy Barker tells us about ‘Star of Wonder’ at Guildford Cathedral

Star of Wonder is a beautiful light and sound show that makes full use of the massive vaulted ceiling and majestic interior of Guildford Cathedral.

Created by artist Peter Walker and composer David Harper of Luxmuralis (Light Murals), the show celebrates the twelve days of Christmas. It takes visitors on the journey of the Magi, through starry skies, religious images and colourful laser beams, in a stunning kaleidoscope of colours.

We went as a family and our two small boys (age five and two) were enchanted by the display all around them. For a first visit to the cathedral it was certainly impressive, and memorable.

It’s on for the next three nights – 16, 17 and 18 January, at a cost of £5 (accompanied under 16s £2.50).

Sunday races

Round & About

Guildford

Today is clearly a good day to run with events taking place in both Oxford and Guildford, the half marathon and 10k, respectively.

The fast and flat 13.1mile course through the streets of the university city of Oxford takes in the colleges, museums and parks that mark out the route.

Runners will cross over the River Cherwell, out into the village of Old Marston and then back past the spectacular colleges. Live music, bands and DJs will be helping to keep their spirits up and if you’re not taking part go along and line the route and cheer them on.

Across in Surrey, Guildford’s first closed-road town centre run, the Guildford 10k, takes place.

Starting from the cobbled high street, run 5km or 10km towards Clandon and back before receiving a huge finisher’s medal.

Some 2,000 runners are expected to take part in the Guildford 10k, which raises money for local charity Harrison’s Fund raising money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The event starts with a warm-up led by Field of Fitness training studio. The Mayor and Town Crier will then officially start the historic town’s first closed-road running race.

Porsche Centre Guildford will lead runners along the gently undulating “out-and-back” routes – which will be lined with local bands, a live DJ and spectators.

An experienced team of race pacers will encourage runners across the finish line where they can then enjoy a post-race massage.

Whether you’re in Oxford or Guildford get out on the streets and support the runners and help some great causes.

Guildford Book Festival

Round & About

Guildford

Guildford Book Festival, 6th-13th October, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Over the years it has hosted some very well-known names but it began in 1989 with a free lunchtime event with an at the time little-known author, Sebastian Faulks. His first novel The Girl at the Lion d’Or had just come out, the first part of the French trilogy which went on to include the emotional First World War best-seller Birdsong and later the Second World War story of heroine Charlotte Gray.

Events this year include Chris Ryan (Electric Theatre, 6th October) speaking about his experiences in the SAS and how events such as Brexit may impact in intelligence sharing and our security, as well as talking about his latest book Black Ops.

David Suchet, better known as Poirot, will talk about his passion for photography, his life and career, with Michael Buerk (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, 6th October). Behind the Lens: My Life in Photos features images from his life which he’ll be sharing.

Monday 7th includes the start of a week-long creative writing workshop; Deborah Moggach and Nicholas Coleridge at the Literary Lunch; broadcaster Kirsty Wark will be talking about her second novel The House by the Loch and historian Max Hastings will be looking at Operation Chastise – The Dambusters Story 1943.

If you haven’t already got a ticket you’re too late to enjoy a coffee morning with The Countess of Carnarvon when she’ll be sharing secrets of Christmas of Highclere, aka the fictional Downton Abbey, but there are a host of other great events to enjoy on Tuesday 8th.

There are still a few tickets left for William Clegg QC’s Under the Wig – A lawyer’s stories of murder, guilt and innocence, John Craven’ sHeadlines and Hedgerows and Luke Jennings is talking about No Tomorrow, the second in the Killing Eve trilogy, now a hugely successful BBC series.

Among the highlights on Wednesday are a look at life on the glamorous French Riveria with Anne de Courcy’s Chanel’s Riviera – Life, Love and the Struggle for Survival on the Cote d’Azur, 1930-1944. Virginia Nicholson takes us into the 1960s with How Was It For You? Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s and there’s the chance to enjoy Cocktail Night with Signe Johansen’s Spirited – How to create easy, fun drinks at home.

Thursday puts the spotlight on Leonardo da Vinci with Ben Lewis’s book The Last Leonardo, Andrew Lownie shares secrets of The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves while Paul Arnott looks at Windrush – A ship through time and Professor Mike Berners-Lee examines the ‘very hot’ topic of the environmental and economic challenges we face in There is no planet B – A handbook for the make or break years.

Fans of Dirty Dancing – and who isn’t – will be excited by the showing of this eighties classic on Friday evening after Katy Brand’s talk on her book, I Carried a Watermelon – Dirty Dancing and Me which tells of the comedian’s lifelong obsession with the movie in her love letter to the iconic film.

Saturday is Readers’ Day with the mini festival in a day, which is already sold out – book very early for next year! There’s still fun to be had courtesy of Pam Ayres with her collection of verse, Up in the Attic.

Guildford Book Festival winds up on Sunday 13th with an extra session of Peter FiennesA Walk in the Woods, Steve Backshall shares his latest adventures in Expedition – Adventures into Undiscovered Worlds before it winds up with an evening with Louis de BernieresCaptain Correlli and Beyond.

More info

For details about all these events and more visit

Cheese & Chilli Festival

Karen Neville

Guildford

If you want to spice up your Sunday then try out the hottest ticket in town – or in Guildford at least – and get along to the Cheese & Chilli Festival in Guildford.

This will be the festival’s fourth year with a whole host of activities for all ages including free cooking demos, a taste tent, beer festival, street theatre, live music, crazy golf, human-sized table football as well as lots of cheese and chilli.

Taking place in Shalford Park today (21st), you’ll be able to enjoy the man v food challenge and a Ready Steady Cook interactive cooking session as well as the chilli eating competition when things will really be hotting up!

And what could be better after you’ve eaten some good hot chillis than taking part in a game of human-sized table football – strap yourself in and attach yourself to a metal bar and swing.

If you prefer something more sedate there are a variety of stalls, a magic show, Punch & Judy show, balloon modelling and treasure hunts to entertain the kids.

As an extra special treat at the Guildford event, there’s the chance to be a VIP with two special price tickets (£50 and £100) offering you the chance to enjoy cocktails, beers, Mexican or Thai lunch, access to the hot tubs and a bottle of hot sauce and limited edition poster.

Get your tickets

For more information and to buy tickets which cost £8 adults, seniors £6 and under 16s free, visit the Cheese & Chilli Festival website below

Tickets can also be bought at the door or in advance at Guildford’s Tourist Information Centre.

Guildford Summer Festival

Round & About

Guildford

Guildford Summer Festival, with sponsor Silent Pool Gin, is back for its 36th year between 8th June to 10th August

Guildford Summer Festival is a huge celebration of all that is great and good about the town.

You’ll be able to enjoy a whole host of theatre, sport, art, music, walks, heritage, tours and days out to keep you busy over the summer.

New events for this year include Animal Encounter Tours at Merrist Wood and the University of Surrey Conductors Concert at Holy Trinity Church. Don’t miss the Woodland Fairy Fair at Watts Gallery and take a trip to the beach at Guildford on sea outside the Electric Theatre.

Popular returning attractions include the festival craft fair, farmers’ markets, cricket festival, Guildford Lions raft race, drama in the castle grounds and classical concerts. Also back by popular demand are the free Alice Day at the castle (3rd August) and the Cheese and Chili Festivals at Shalford Park (21st & 22nd July).
Join a free guided town walk exploring the history, the Alan Turing walk and new Leading Lights Walk where you can meet characters from the past. Staying outdoors there’s the Round the Hogs Back Cycle Tour to join too.

The whole Guildford Summer Festival is being sponsored by Silent Pool Gin.

There are arts exhibitions to view at the Mill Studio, Watts Gallery and Guildford House Gallery and theatre at G Live and the Yvonne Arnaud as well as Guildford Fringe Festival at several venues in July.

Find out more

Festival brochures can be picked up at the Tourist Information Centre and tickets are on sale now for most events.