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Reasons to visit Beaminster Festival this year

PUBLISHED: 10:22 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 22 May 2018

The free Party in the Square kicks off this year's Beaminster Festival

The free Party in the Square kicks off this year's Beaminster Festival


From Shakespeare in the garden to a party in the square, artistic director, Lois Pearson, unveils an exciting programme for all the community at Beaminster Festival 2018

When I was invited to take on the role of Artistic Director for Beaminster Festival, I felt like I’d been given the keys to the toyshop - with so much music, literature, art and theatre to choose from – where to start? Having spent 25 years teaching music, 10 years in event management, including being the volunteer responsible for the stage management of the Festival, it was a brilliant opportunity for me to broaden its scope whilst maintaining top quality classical music concerts in the lovely setting of St Mary’s Church. With nearly 100 composers and 25 different instruments represented throughout the nine-day festival, running from 23rd June – 1st July, I’m confident that visitors will enjoy a richly stimulating and thrilling experience.

Each day starts with a Coffee Concert, and local schools - including the Mountjoy Hand Bell team - will be giving pre-coffee performances. There is a Literary Event every afternoon and an Evening Concert. I’ve also introduced the idea of a ‘Chain Reaction’ and I’m delighted to welcome the superlative pianist, Tom Poster, who is returning with ‘friends’. Tom’s quintet is joined by Morgan Szymanski and Lizzie Ball for our first informal late-night concert (28 June).

When the bunting goes up in the Town Square I want the whole community to feel the excitement, especially those residents who are unable to get to the main events. By raising money from various trusts who support community projects and the Beaminster’s Dementia Friendly initiative, I have been able to encourage residential homes, Beaminster Seniors, Beaminster Playgroup and local schools to fill the last week of June with music and arts events

Two big community events bookend the Festival – the free Party in the Square (23 June, 5 – 9pm) with local bands, food stalls and Pavilion Bar kicks off the Festival, while a Community Picnic in the gardens of Beaminster Manor (1 July, midday – 5pm) with stilt-walker, circus skills, Punch and Judy and a silver band tootling in the background – provides an idyllic English afternoon to end this year’s Beaminster Festival.

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Frances Hatch – Artist-in-Residence

For the first time Beaminster Fetsival has an artist-in-residence – Frances Hatch. As well as her exhibition ‘Sheet Music for Summer’ at Bridge House, Frances is running two workshops: one uses the ‘Tree of Hope’ by Frida Khalo as inspiration, the other is en plein air. Each is followed by a delicious afternoon tea at Bridge House.

Viva la Vida con Frida

An evening concert (29 June) in which Mexican guitarist, Morgan Szymanski and vocalist and violinist Lizzie Ball take a musical journey through the life and times of the iconic Mexican artist, Frida Khalo. The show is illustrated with Khalo’s art and there is a little Mexican flavour in the pre-concert drinks!

The Winter’s Tale

The Festival Players perform Shakespeare’s play about the fragility of marriage and friendship in the glorious gardens of Meerhay Manor, one of the oldest buildings in Beaminster on 24 June, open from 12.30pm for picnics, performance at 2.30pm.

The Overtures 60s Tribute Band

Skip the light fandango, let your hair down and enjoy the groovy tunes from this great 60s tribute band which Elton John described as ‘the best in the business’ from 8pm, 30 June, at Beaminster School.

Concerts for Children

The magnificent Magnard Ensemble is performing five concerts during the Festival. The wind quintet is hosting workshops at local primary schools and Beaminster School; performing a Coffee Concert (29 June, Beaminster School), together with piano, including Mozart Quintet K 452, Poulenc Sextet and the premiere of a piece by Leo Geyer. The ensemble is then joined by zany actor Rebecca Kenny to perform Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Marvellous Music at a Saturday morning relaxed family concert at the Public Hall in Fleet Street, free entry for children (10.30am, 30 June).

Several concerts are free for under 25s thanks to the Cavatina Trust almost all the rest are £2 for children. For the full programme and to buy tickets online visit beaminsterfestival.com or call the box office 01308 862 943.

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