Sunday 24 March 2013

Buxton Cut Off?!

Well it's the case that I haven't tried to go farther than the market place in the last 72 hours (and no, there was no market on Saturday) so all I've got to go on is an assortment of tweets and messages on Facebook, but it does look like it is a bit tricky getting in and out of our lovely town right now. It was a major effort hauling the wheelie bins out of the drift in the garden - whether the bin-men make it for tomorrow's collection is another matter.

Anyway none of this is of any consequence for you Fringers - presumably we'll be fully accessible come July. (Though those people who routinely remind me that snow stopped play during a cricket match in Buxton in June in the 1970s will warn to be cautious. Some say it wasn't snow but hailstones - should you be reassured).

What will we have on offer for you in July? I hope I'll be excused a bit of a plug here. For the past 3 years or so one event in the Fringe has been a programme of short films that were judged to be the best entries to Buxton Film's annual "Open Shorts" competition. Last year the films were screened in the Arts Studio - managed by Underground Venues. Open Shorts 2013 will also figure in the Fringe. Entries for the competition are open until June 1st - past winners have included a BAFTA victor so the standard is high but all are welcome to enter.

If you check out the UV link you'll see that apart from being a significant part of Buxton's Fringe the team is also at the heart of the Oxford Fringe - which runs from May 24 - June 9. Oxfringe hasn't quite established a regular pattern - but given the quantity of live arts routinely available in the city that might not be surprising. Either way if you find yourself there in late spring check out the Oxfringe.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Edging Towards The Ton

We're getting close to 100 entries (and 300 separate events or performances) for Fringe 2013.

Among the latest entries are some from 'old' friends if they will pardon the usage. The Derbyshire Youth Orchestra meets for an intensive summer school each year - up to 100 young players getting together to rehearse a demanding programme of new (for them) music. At the end of the rehearsal period they put on a concert performance especially for us lucky people in Buxton. This year we are doubly blessed.

On Friday July 19th the City & County Youth Orchestra will be playing Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Peter Maxwell-Davis' Orkney Wedding with Sunrise. On Sunday July 21st the Intermediate Orchestra will be playing alongside Sinfonia Viva in a concert led by Simon Bowler. Both concerts will be in the Octagon at the Pavilion Gardens starting at 7.30pm.

Sandwiched between, on Saturday July 20th, the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra will be playing at St John's Church. They are presenting an attractive and varied programme: Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No.3; Barber - Adagio for Strings; Shostakovich - Chamber Symphony; The Fiddlers by Rautavaara; and Irish music for traditional flute and strings by O' Súilleabháin. With soloist Nuala Hayes the evening will be introduced and conducted by Sinead Hayes.

These concerts are just part of a very full programme of music at Fringe 2013 - we already have 30 separate music events with more to come!

Monday 18 March 2013

Buxton - one of the best places to live

According to the Sunday Times evidently. Not a paper I've read for 30 years - but perhaps it is better than it used to be! Anyway you don't need to read the ST to recognise the qualities of life in the town.

Barely 100 days to the start of the Festival and the Fringe - July 3rd for the Fringe and two days later for the Buxton Festival. So what do you need to know?

1] The Festival programme is published and tickets are on sale. If you're not a Friend of the Festival (that costs £25) then you'll have to wait until 2 April to book your seats.
2] The Fringe now has 87 entries and the cost of entering goes up on 1 April. So you have 12 days to get entries in at £65. From 1-21 April it costs £80 to enter. April 21st is the deadline for entries if you want to be sure of getting into our glossy, full colour programme which will be published at the beginning of June.
3] To mark the launch of the programme there will be a modest party at The Green Man Gallery - 55 High Street - on Friday June 7th from 8pm.
4] Before then Buxton is throwing all caution to the wind and on Bank Holiday Monday May 6th there is a Spring Fair. This will be fab in itself - but it is also an opportunity for musicians and other performers to take to the streets. If you want to be part of the fun you'll need to apply to join by the end of March. Go to the Spring Fair link!

Saturday 16 March 2013

Remembering Malcolm Fraser

I was fortunate to be invited to attend a small gathering at Buxton Opera House yesterday afternoon to mark the contribution that Malcolm Fraser made to the life of the town. Malcolm - who died last year - was one of a small group of people who had the imagination to see the potential and possibilities in the Opera House in the mid-1970s.

It was thanks to that group of people that the Opera House was saved in its present form - it might otherwise have been gutted - and the Buxton Festival was launched. Michael Williams and Dame Janet Smith spoke warmly of Malcolm's passion and creativity and reminded us of not only what had been achieved, but also of the enduring legacy.

Dame Janet said that it was unimaginable that The Crescent would be up for development as a 5* hotel without the Opera House and the Festival. Malcolm was also instrumental in establishing the Fringe and without his nurturing attention we wouldn't be where we are today. There is an interview with him on the Fringe website.

Incidentally Trevor Osborne - who is behind The Crescent redevelopment - has exciting ideas for the development of the British Legion building which is behind the town's museum. He has plans that could see the revitalization of a number of buildings in that part of the town and the cementing of arts venues. As yet, he says, no one is against his broad proposals. It is very early days though.

Monday 11 March 2013

Buxton Festival Programme 2013

The new Buxton Festival Programme has just landed on my doormat. It feels a bit slimmer - thinner paper, fewer pages maybe. Certainly it has been redesigned and looks fine and dandy.

I am pleased to see that James Gilchrist is singing in Buxton again. He was wonderful as Jephta last year. He is doing a lunchtime recital on Thursday 11th July - accompanied by pianist Anna Tilbrook. James - if I may be so bold - is also singing in Benjamin Britten's Church Parables which are being sung over two nights (14/15 July) in St John's Church. Mind you I'll need to dig deep to hear all three Parables - £99. Probably a once-in-lifetime opportunity though.

As for other highlights - well most tastes are catered for. On the chamber music front the ensemble Fibonacci Sequence are playing at the Pavilion Arts Centre on four occasions - Mozart, Dvorak, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven and Barber figuring in their programmes.

Lizzie Ball will be doing some jazz fiddle and singing - along with the James Pearson Trio. Now Lizzie looks like she's on a catwalk in the promotional picture. Some people will question the selling of music in this way - but if she looked liked she'd been dragged through a hedge backwards there'd be complaint. Anyway 19/20 July for the Great American Songbook.

On the Literary front (and tickets are a bit cheaper this year!) you can hear Melvyn Bragg, Antonia Fraser, Roy Hattersley, Julia Bradbury and, this being Britten's centenary his latest biographer Paul Kildea.

Public booking starts on April 2nd.

The full programme is here.

Saturday 9 March 2013

The URC Buxton - a friendly venue

The Buxton Fringe is grateful to all the pubs, clubs, churches, halls and houses that open their doors for our events every July. Whether they accommodate one events or dozens they all matter.
The United Reformed Church has become increasingly important to us in recent years - because it is affordable, friendly, convenient and flexible. During the Fringe you'll find theatre, dance, recitals, music and the spoken word in the various rooms at the URC.
Already for 2013 almost 40 performances are scheduled to take place there. Among these you'll find:
Dance - The Green Robin Dance Company with The People Next Door. Georgie, Hayley and Conrad are ordinary enough - their lives may look just like yours!
The Brick Wall Ensemble's A Rose By Another Name is a take on Romeo & Juliet.

On the musical front we look forward to hearing a piano recital of Baroque music by James Pelham (19th); there will be a lunchtime chamber recital by the Bright String Trio (10th); the Deconet String Quartet will be performing one evening (17th).

The library theatre touring company will be doing plays by two of the nation's favourite playwrights - John Godber and Alan Bennett and we are pleased to welcome back Planet Rabbit who have built up a loyal Fringe following. "One Sunny Day" is a nostalgic comedy about a family that has bought a cottage on the Yorkshire coast. This rings a bit of a bell!

There is further theatre - from Cotton Grass Theatre; The Unknown Land is inspired by Artic exploration; and Arletty Theatre's Patchwork Lives is a story of Nottinghamshire folk, sewn into a quilt, turned into a play.

All this is one venue! Take a close look at our rapidly expanding 2013 programme for the fullest information.

Poetry in Litton

There are many lovely villages in the Peak District - places to walk to and from, stop off at for a drink or a pub meal. One such is Litton. In the winter the wind can blow hard - what Mark Gwynne Jones describes as "a lazy wind" - because it doesn't stop to go around you.
We hope this summer brings some balmy days for Litton when it hosts a poetry festival. The festival runs from 12-14 July in the Village Hall and the Church. The full programme of poets is still to be finalised - but make a note of the event and keep an eye on the programme details.

We now have 85 events for Buxton Fringe 2013 which runs from 3-21 July. The Opera & Literature Festival is from 5-21 July and the programme has now been published. Public bookings start from April 2nd - become a Friend of the Festival and get priority booking.

Sunday 3 March 2013

More Fringe Record Breaking

The end-of-February deadline for Fringe entries has come and gone and we have a record-breaking 82 entries already! This is around 15% up on last year. So it looks like Fringe 2013 will be one of the biggest ever and there is already plenty to choose from.

There are still four months before we start and we'll try to give space to as many entries as possible in the coming weeks but what can we tempt you with now?

We have been lucky to have Mark Gwynne Jones at the Fringe in recent years; he is back this year - two nights at the Old Clubhouse (which is enjoying something of a resurgence as a Fringe venue). Mark will be performing on Wednesday's 10th and 17th July. His show is called Just For A Moment and combines film, comedy and poetry. Mark's work is always entertaining and thought-provoking. No excuses for missing him this year.

2013 really will be the final year that we have the Barrel Room and the Pauper's Pit as Fringe venues. (Development works on the Crescent are well underway and this will affect the Old Hall Hotel as well). Some tentative plans are emerging from Underground Venues - which manages the Old Hall spaces. We're excited to see that Helen Arney will be joining us again. She was a delight to have around town last year and was a worthy winner of a comedy award. This year she will be joined by her partner Rob Wells in a show called Domestic Science - an hour of "home-cooked science and comedy".

It will be getting light at night soon - make the most of the early sunsets and make your Fringe 2013 plans now!