Battle Festival promises to be ‘the highlight of the year’

FOLLOWING the major success of the launch concert on Easter Monday, the signs are bright for the inaugural Battle Arts and Music Festival in October.

The concert at St Mary’s Church not only launched the Battle Festival Sinfonia to huge applause, but is the first of many concerts in this year’s programme.

The organisers are delighted with the audience’s response to the festival plans, the inaugural concert, and the quality of the performers.

Feedback to the organisers included audience member Gary Thornton, who said: “If Monday night’s appetiser is anything to go by, the Battle Festival should be one of the highlights of the year. A varied and interesting programme of music with stunning vocal performances and top-rate instrumentalists. You promised us world-class performers and you delivered!”

Festival chairman David Furness said: “Our dream is now becoming a reality - Battle will host an incredible arts and music festival in October featuring the very best in classical and popular music along with international and regional contemporary arts.

“A lot of work needs to be done but we are more confident than ever of achieving our vision for Battle. A very warm thanks to all those who attended the concert and the small army of volunteers who did so much to make the event such a success”.

Audience member Ann Watts, a seasoned concert-goer, said: “Battle has it all, a beautiful town, friendly locals and fantastic restaurants and galleries.

“The inaugural concert at St Mary’s Church was professionally organized with outstanding classical music and song - pure joy and in a beautiful setting. We are so looking forward to the October 25 concert - Battle has deservedly now earned its place on the UK’s classical music map.”

The performers themselves were delighted to play in Battle and particularly the historic St Mary’s Church.

Dan Cornford, the festival’s Artistic Director, said: “Our concert on Easter Monday showed just how great an appetite there is for live music and culture locally.

“Setting up a new festival is always tricky as trying to assess the amount of demand is almost impossible until you have actually put on an event. In this respect the audience numbers and level of enthusiasm which we achieved, especially as it was over the holiday period, exceeded all our expectations.

“The musicians involved all have busy careers performing across the world with orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and at Glyndebourne. Every one of them commented on the wonderful and positive atmosphere generated in St Mary’s Church and on the quality of the acoustic and facilities on offer.

“We fully intend to build on the momentum generated from this hugely successful concert by presenting other events between now the festival itself in October. We hope to put on another concert at St Mary’s during the summer with Vivaldi’s ever popular Four Seasons included on the programme.”

Councillor Kathryn Field, who attended the concert, said: “Easter Monday’s concert was both memorable and extremely enjoyable.

“An excellent taster of great things to come during the festival in October.”

This was echoed by Councillor Paula Fisher, who said: “It’s simply wonderful to have the Battle Festival revived and how lovely to see so many enthusiastic people thoroughly enjoying it. What a wonderful thing for Battle!”

The organisers were further buoyed on the night by the sheer numbers of people asking where and when they could get tickets for October’s concerts. Positive feedback continues to pour in since the concert and the town’s businesses are also keen to be involved in October’s events.

Debbie Noble of Nobles Restaurant has already signed up to take part in the Battle Fringe events calendar, saying: “Nobles Restaurant is always delighted to be involved with well thought out, professionally run and organised events in Battle.

“The Battle Arts and Music Festival in October is particularly close to our hearts as we will be working with Battle Abbey School to give their young, talented artists and musicians a chance to shine.

“For the festival weekend, the students will take over the restaurant walls with their art and some selected musical talents will perform live at Nobles. We are really looking forward to being part of this amazing event.”

Liz Honey, one of the organisers and director of Saffron Gallery, said: “We want to create an all-inclusive festival which caters, in one form or another, to all walks of society.

“There will be ticketed classical concerts, informal live music events in our bars and restaurants, free to enter visual arts exhibitions and outdoor family events.

“There will be so much more and, additionally, we are working with six schools which will culminate in a concert at the De La Warr Pavilion which will see school children play on stage with our professional, world-class musicians.

“We also have one or two plans up our sleeves that should ensure the festival won’t be forgotten in a hurry!”

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Pictures taken by Cassia Friello.