If music is the food of love then this year's Hebden Bridge Arts Festival promises to be a veritable fortnight's feast of affection! From Doris to Debussy, samba to singers, and Bach to Colonel Bogey, there are surely sounds to suit all ears. And as usual the music makers range from home grown favourites to established legends and the pick of up-and-coming artistes.
The Arts Festival would be incomplete without Doris, the Dinner Ladies, and the Bloody Big Soul Band, and they launch the two week event at the Picture House on Saturday 25th June. Over at Heptonstall church, meantime, local singers Cantorelli offer a more tranquil alternative including madrigals by Montiverdi and Marenzio, as well as more modern pieces.
A jazz highlight the following evening sees the internationally celebrated trombonist Dennis Rollins (of the NYJO and legendary Jazz Warriors) guesting at the Trades Club with local 5-piece cool combo Tongue and Groove, and featuring silky songstress Ruby Wood. Nice!
Calderdale Community Samba Band play at Holme Street Arts Centre on Saturday July 2nd, and invite you to join the spirit of Brazilian carnival in two workshops they are running, offering a chance to dance, drum, or design and make carnival costumes.
A difficult choice awaits that evening, with our own 30-strong Hepton Singers offering an eclectic programme at Heptonstall church, where they have now sung for more than three decades.
Mytholmroyd Community Centre host an evening of English folk music with the Northumbrian pipes of Pauline Cato, fiddler Tom MccConville, and guest guitarist Dave Wood.
Dancing in the street is the order of the day on the middle Sunday, with free shows in St George's Square by, amongst others, Calder Valley Voices and Calderdale Community Samba Band.
This is followed that evening by an emotional farewell concert, as Cragg Vale Gamelan perform for the very last time, almost 18 years to the day since their formation as the UK's only touring community Gamelan. Heptonstall church will no doubt be packed to the aisles for this final celebration of the best music from their repertoire since 1987, including "Concerto for a Million Trees". The Gamelan have been a regular fixture in these parts, and an opportunity for ensemble music making for many local people, not to mention a spectacle for all who saw and heard them, and they will be missed!
Churches and music have always had a close association, since the praises of God were first sung in buildings raised up to the glory of the Creator, and so it is fitting that local places of worship host a whole range of musical experiences during the second week of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.
On consecutive days from Tuesday 5th, the Lynwood Brass Quintet can be heard at St Michael's Mytholmroyd with a very varied programme of great music; Cello soloist Nicholas Trygstad performs works by Bach, Britten and others at Heptonstall Parish Church; Calder Valley Voices, Hebden's own community choir are at Hebden Bridge Methodist Church (they don't audition, nor expect members to read music, and believe that anyone and everyone can sing); and the RSAMD String Trio, hits of this year's Young Musicians festival, are at Heptonstall Church, including a performance of arguably the greatest of Mozart's chamber works. Local duet "Due Voci", are at the same place on Saturday lunchtime, followed by the Chinook Clarinet Quartet in the evening at Heptonstall with a concert ranging from Albinoni to Mingus, and including African rhythms, rumba and tango. Apparently they have to be seen, as well as heard, to be believed.
And finally, the perfect contrast of weekend treats, as acclaimed pianist Margaret Bruce, with soprano Paola Quaglia, offer an aperitif, Sunday lunch, and a recital of piano and opera favourites at Walshaw Lodge, Hardcastle Crags, whilst the streets of town echo to La Pena Flamenca de Hebden Bridge and Bomba (it just couldn't happen anywhere else, could it?)
So - your town, your festival, your music - do please make the most of it and enjoy the rich variety, details of which can be found in the Festival Programme, which also contains a booking form for all events.
As the final preparations for the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival are being made, the Box Office on Albert Street will be open daily from this week-end until the end of the show on July 10th. The office is manned daily from 10 to 5, and there is an out-of hours telephone enquiry service on 01422 842684. This alone requires a great deal of input, so how does a small town such as Hebden Bridge manage to consistently produce a two-week Arts Festival of national quality?
Well, it's basically all down to three resources. Obviously much depends on the unstinting efforts of volunteers and supporters, without whom there simply wouldn't be a Festival. From the Board of Directors, skilfully guided by Festival Administrator Enid Stephenson, through the stalwart team who run the box office, those who prepare for, and steward each event (an even more responsible job with increasing health and safety issues), to those who come to the public consultations and offer their ideas and feedback, the final result is a product of many many people.
But as well as person-power, if a Festival is to provide a quality programme it needs funding. Patronage has always been a feature of the arts, and the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival is grateful for the financial support given by The Arts Council, Hebden Royd Town Council, Asda, Calderdale Council, The Centre for Public Policy Seminars, and The Bearder Charity.
Thirdly, and importantly, the artists. Our community hosts a wealth of artistic talent, some locally born and bred, and many others drawn here by the special qualities of the place, as they have for generations. They give unstintingly of their time and gifts to take their place alongside the "imported" performers and artists, to create a programme that is rich in talent and variety.
But then, finally - there's you, the audience. Without you it would all be pointless. Although research shows that many people book holidays in Hebden Bridge especially for the Festival, by far the largest proportion of bookings are from local folk, and so thank you for your support through the years, please enjoy what we have to offer in this year's Festival, and watch out for our public meetings, where you will have the opportunity to be in at the beginning of next year's events!