Simonsbath Festival starts tomorrow

Simonsbath Festival 2015 starts on Bank Holiday Monday May 4 at 2.30pm with traditional May Day celebrations for all the family on Exford Village Green.  There will be magical tales about the Exmoor Forest from popular local storyteller Frances Harrison, followed by maypole dancing to live music from Howard Harrison on guitar and Ben van Weede on fiddle.  Tea and refreshments will be available.

In the next six weeks the tiny village of Simonsbath, and its magical moorland setting, will be buzzing with an exciting mix of events, from classical, jazz, opera and world music concerts to poetry readings, talks, walks, workshops and much more.

The festival’s opening concert brings the warm Mediterranean sounds of Greek music to Simonsbath with a performance by the outstanding George Kypreos Band at St Luke’s Church on Saturday May 9 at 7.30pm.

And on Wednesday May 13 at 7.30pm Birdie Johnson comes to St Luke’s to talk about the book she has just edited by her mother Buster Johnson (with foreword by grandson Boris).  Birdie’s talk will include highlights from Alas Poor Johnny, her mother’s colourful and entertaining memoir of life on an Exmoor farm in the 1950s, and she will explain how, after all these years, it has finally come to be published.

Throughout the festival period Boevey’s Tea Rooms will host an exhibition of art by local artists featuring mainly Exmoor themed work including paintings in oil, watercolour and pastel as well as printmaking and photography.

Simonsbath Festival runs from May 4 to June 19.  For information or to request a full-colour printed festival programme phone Victoria Thomas on 01643 8313434, email simonsbathfestival@mail.com or visit the website www.simonsbathfestival.co.uk.  To book tickets phone Marian Lloyd on 01643 831451.

And here is an overview of events:

Performers and Speakers

Birdie Johnson  Wednesday May 13 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

Birdie Johnson, Buster Johnson’s daughter, talks about Alas Poor Johnny, her mother’s highly entertaining memoir of life on an Exmoor farm in the 1950s, and how, after all these years, it has finally come to be published.   Read more….

Geoff Nichols  Good Vibes  Friday May 22 – 8.30pm,  Exmoor Forest Inn

Geoff Nichols returns to the Exmoor Forest Inn with his Swing jazz band Good Vibes. Having led the legendary Avon Cities jazz band for many years, trumpet and vibes star Geoff Nichols turns to the Swing music of the 1930s and 40s to present his Good Vibes band for the discerning jazz fan.   Read more…..

The George Kypreos Band   Saturday May 9 – 7.30pm,  St Luke’s  

Simonsbath Festival opens with the sunlight and warmth of the Mediterranean evoked by the sound of Greek music from the George Kypreos Band. The band is led by the virtuoso bouzouki and distinctively soulful voice of George Kypreos, accompanied by Greek female vocals, and driven by the strong rhythmic grooves of gypsy guitar, Syrian darbouka and a rocking English back-line.    Read more….

Kausary  Saturday May 30 – 4:00pm and 7.30pm, St Luke’s

The Peruvian band Kausary’s workshop at 4pm will take participants on a journey through Andean culture to experience the vitality of the music and dance of Latin America. The emphasis is is on hands-on experience, with the opportunity to play some of the instruments, including panpipes, guitar and charango, so that participants can discover their own Andean spirit!

Then at 7.30pm the six-piece band  plays a rich repertoire of traditional Andean and contemporary Latin sounds, playing with unequalled depth of emotion in styles typical of the Andean highlands, coastal lowlands, Amazon basin and forest, and Cuba.   Read more….

Le Jazz  Saturday June 6 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

The highly entertaining and dazzlingly dexterous musicians who form Le Jazz show their mastery and enjoyment in a variety of musical styles, performing a richly diverse programme of music from Faure to Django Reinhart, with Gershwin and Jewish Klezma music along the way.    Read more….

Michael Bochmann and David Watkins  Saturday May 23 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

Sacred and Profane – music for violin and harp.

World class violinist Michael Bochmann and harpist David Watkins perform an irresistible programme of music from the sublime to the more down to earth, including works by Bach, Vivaldi, Saint-Saens, Paganini, Mozart and Massenet, and much-loved traditional pieces to herald the arrival of summer. Read more….

Njabulo Madlala  Saturday May 16 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

South African baritone and 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Award-winning Njabulo Madlala brings a voice of rare distinction and beauty to the Simonsbath Festival and demonstrates the quality and range of his musicianship in a dazzlingly diverse programme featuring Schubert lieder, African-American spirituals, French art songs, English ballads and traditional South African folk songs.      Read more….

Pop-Up Opera  Saturday June 13 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

The Italian Girl in Algiers

Playboy Mustafa is bored with his wife Elvira; what he really wants is an Italian girl. Coincidentally, an Italian girl Isabella arrives, in search of her sweetheart Lindoro, a young Italian man recently captured on the high seas by Mustafa’s pirates and now in his service.    Read more…. 

Rob Wilson-North  Wednesday June 3 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

Rob Wilson-North, Conservation Manager for the Exmoor National Park, explains how current research is revealing more about the enterprising Georgian industrialist John Knight’s vision for Exmoor and his plans for a great mansion at the heart of his estate in Simonsbath with pleasure grounds after the picturesque style.      Read more….

Dr Sue Baker  Wednesday May 27 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

Author of ‘Survival of the Fittest – a Natural History of the Exmoor Pony’ and past chair of the Exmoor Pony Society, Dr Sue Baker assesses the future of the Exmoor Pony.    Read more….

Tom and Barbara Brown   Wednesday June 10 – 7.30pm, Exmoor Forest Inn

Moor Songs

The Exmoor Forest Inn hosts an open session of Exmoor music and song led by popular folk and traditional entertainers Tom and Barbara Brown. Singers, musicians and audience are all welcome.     Read more…..

Tracey Elliot-Reep  Wednesday May 20 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

Adventures on horseback

Tracey gives an inspirational and entertaining presentation about her amazing horse riding adventures in distant lands, illustrated with stunning photography and film.   Read more….

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