Thursday 26 March 2015

Emily Selke: Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

When Daniel Stiker, the executive and artistic director of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, talks about Emily Selke, he feels as if he’s writing a job recommendation letter.
“It’s very hard to talk about her, how great she was,” he said by phone Wednesday. “It’s an odd dichotomy. Here’s this person who just graduated from college, and now she’s not here.”
Emily Selke, a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia, and her mother, Yvonne Selke, a U.S. government contractor from Nokesville, Va., were identified as two of the three Americans presumed dead in a Tuesday plane crash in the southern French Alps, the Associated Press reported. The plane had been traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany.
Ms. Selke, the festival manager for the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, graduated from Drexel in 2013 with a bachelor of science degree in music industry. She was the type of person you instantly liked, Mr. Stiker said. She was always smiling, respectful and warm, and her laugh would put you at ease when things got tense, he said.
Xela Batchelder, organizer of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival -- which bills itself as an “innovative performing arts festival” -- and also a former professor of Ms. Selke’s at Drexel, said Ms. Selke had a positive, the-glass-is-half-full attitude.
The two met in one of Ms. Batchelder's classes and after seeing Ms. Selke’s desire to be involved in festival management, Ms. Batchelder invited her to be a part of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival. Ms. Selke also was involved in the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in 2013.
“She put herself in situations where she could learn, which is great and something I really admire about her,” Ms. Batchelder said.
Mr. Stiker also had the chance to meet Ms. Selke’s mother, who he said helped with last year’s Fringe Festival.
"When I met her mom during the festival she had the same sort of personality; you instantly wanted to be her friend," he said.
Ms. Selke had been planning to help with this year’s festival, which will be from May 8 to May 10 on the North Side, Mr. Stiker said. He plans to honor both Ms. Selke and her mother at the event.
“[Ms. Selke] definitely pulled her weight, gave great insight, really made Fringe what it is today,” Mr. Stiker said.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 25 March 2015

Buxton Festival 2015 Officially Launched

Felicity Goodey at the Buxton Festival 2015 Launch

The Buxton Festival was established in 1979 (the Fringe followed a year later). It will, therefore, be the 37th Festival this year and Festival 2015 was formally launched, with a good mixture of joy, excitement and a little necessary formality, on the stage of the Buxton Opera House this week.

A good many people gathered to celebrate and heard brief and enthusiastic speeches from the newly-confirmed Chair of the Festival - Felicity Goodey - as well as Artistic Director - Stephen Barlow. The Festival is most fortunate that Felicity Goodey has agreed to succeed Dame Janet Smith as Chair of the Festival. Felicity brings an enormous amount of experience from a career in the BBC as well as considerable public service management experience. She spoke very warmly about the town, the Opera House, those living and working in High Peak who give financial and practical support to the Festival. She even found time to mention the successful Fringe. Buxton Festival Fringe looks forward to working with Felicity and all those involved in the Buxton Festival.

Stephen Barlow is planning his fourth Buxton Festival and gave the impression that he looks forward to many more. He emphasised that the Opera House, the Arts Centre and St John's Church provided the perfect mix of venues for the Festival. Talking about this year's programme he asked us to note that the four opera to be performed this year had strong heroines. Donizetti's "undisputed masterpiece, Lucia de Lammermoor, which cannot be performed too often"; Verdi's interpretation of Joan of Arc, Giovanna D'Arco, composed just ten years later; Purcell's Dido and Aeneas; and, finally, concert performances of Charpentier's Louise.

Stephen went on to add that he felt we were all very fortunate in being able to hear these roles sung by artists who were certain to bring something fresh and special to the operas. Australian Kate Ladner - as Giovanna - returns to Buxton after successes in 2012. Welsh soprano Elin Pritchard sings Lucia, South African Pumeza Matshikiza is Dido and Madeleine Pierard - from New Zealand - is Louise.

This international flavour is underlined by the fact that Elijah Moshinsky has agreed to direct Giovanna D'Arco. This is something of a coup for Buxton and no doubt we owe thanks to Stephen Barlow for persuading such a distinguished artist as Elijah for being part of the 2015 Festival.

Tickets for the Buxton Festival go on general sale on 1st April. To see the full programme, which includes perfomances by The English Concert and literary talks by the likes of Louis de Bernieres, AN Wilson, Antonia Fraser and Helen Macdonald, go to the Festival website. The 2015 Buxton Festival opens on 10 July and closes 17 days later on 26 July.

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Monday 16 March 2015

Hey, diddle-diddle. It's The Cat & Fiddle

The Cat & Fiddle Inn

The word 'iconic' is tiresomely overused. So it is with some reluctance and more caution that we use it here. However, it may be justified. For those living in north Derbyshire - close to the Cheshire border - The Cat & Fiddle is a legendary landmark. The road from Buxton to Macclesfield takes its name from the pub which is the second highest in England and the 12 mile route can be breathtakingly beautiful. And now The Cat & Fiddle Inn is a venue for the Buxton Fringe!

This means Buxton Fringe acts can take place at a ever-growing number of venues beyond the town. A list of outreach venues can be found on this link. There are pubs and halls eager to host Fringe shows in King Sterndale, Chelmorton, Sterndale Moor, Hartington, New Mills, Taddington and the iconic Cat & Fiddle. We look forward to announcing performances at some more of these venues shortly.

There is probably a word to describe self-promotion by quoting your own press releases. It probably isn't a very kind word. However, we're in the risk business. So, here's something prepared earlier in the Fringe kitchen.

With events for July’s Buxton Festival Fringe rapidly building up, Fringe organisers have re-launched the all-important Fringe website to be even friendlier and easier to use.

As one of England’s largest open access-arts festivals, Buxton Festival Fringe, which this year takes place between July 8-26, has become an ever more complex feat of organisation with the website, first created in 2002, housing a wealth of information including how to take part, what’s on listings, news and photos, videos, venue details, community news and Fringe history. It also provides a slick, on-line entry procedure for would be participants.

The newly designed website is now much clearer to navigate for all the different people who want to use it – from performers to punters, and volunteers to business supporters. It has also been enhanced to function better across all platforms, a key concern given that mobile and tablet usage have soared in recent years. The clean new look from local designer Eric Tilley in conjunction with Fringe webmaster Dan Osborne and the Fringe committee features a greater use of photos, clearer menu links and prominent log on and search facilities. The content has also been reworked and rearranged to be friendlier and more readable with handy, explanatory introductions at the top of each page.

Says Fringe chair, Keith Savage: “The Fringe is lucky to be able to call on a group of skilled people who voluntarily reviewed the structure and content of the website in its entirety. The hours of work that went into this are beyond counting but we hope that what we have reflects two elements of the Fringe: we aim to be as professional and organised as we can; we also want to project the joy and excitement of being one of the biggest arts festivals in England."

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Monday 9 March 2015

Back in Buxton for 2015

One of the measures we have about the success of the Buxton Fringe is the number of artists and performers who choose to return - some year after after. This seems to be especially true of singers and musicians. Here are just some of those who we - and audiences - are delighted to welcome to Buxton again.

Clocking up their 21st Fringe in 2015 is Partita, a Manchester-based ensemble specialising in early music and song. The playing and singing is always of a high order and the repertoire invariably includes new delights and surprises. You can hear Partita twice in the Fringe this year. On the evening of July 17th there is a concert at St John's Church which includes guests Stringboxes - this can only add to the certain pleasure.

The Manchester Recorder Orchestra has earned a loyal following in Buxton and it will be performing at the Trinity Church on July 18th - the programme includes a Dowland tango!

The City of Manchester Opera has been a Buxton regular and we anticipate a splendid evening of Italian opera on July 25th at the Methodist Church. One of the regular singers with CoMO is Margaret Ferguson who is performing with pianist Jonathan Ellis (also at the Methodist Church) on July 17th. Jonathan is also playing a solo recital on July 24th when his programme includes music by Scriabin who died 100 years ago. Jonathan won a Fringe award for his playing last year and you are assured of entertainment and brilliant playing from him.

Returning for a fifth Buxton Fringe are the Ordsall A Cappella Singers. They enjoy singing - and also provide cake for their audiences. They are singing twice on July 25th - at the United Reformed Church in the morning and at St Mary's in the afternoon. So that could be two pieces of cake if you play your cards right!

One of the biggest Fringe events is always the High Peak Orchestra concert; the orchestra is big, the audience fills St John's Church and the programme is a full one too. This year is no exception: featured is Bruckner's hour-long Symphony No 6 and Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations for violin and orchestra with Ryan Drucker (from the RNCM) the soloist.

On a smaller scale is the Sovereign Saxophone Octet - at the Methodist Church on the 19th - with there usual wide-ranging programme (much of it arrangements of music that pre-dates the invention of the saxophone). At The Railway you can hear some American bluegrass - Aprille and the Showers will be on hand to entertain on the 8th, 15th and 22nd July.

Finally, for now, we have two new Fringe venues - both in Taddington village six miles south of Buxton along the A6. So, dear performers, if you are playing at the Buxton Fringe you might want to arrange a little tour taking in some of the neighbouring venues. 

Buxton Fringe

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Monday 2 March 2015

Buxton Fringe - in New Mills, Chelmorton and Crowdecote!

Chelmorton Church

Now we don't expect everyone to be intimate with the location of all the towns and villages of northern Derbyshire - so you may have to take our word for it that some Buxton Fringe venues are a good few miles distant. We are especially pleased to welcome shows and events from these outlying venues.

Come the end of February we had 61 events scheduled already for July. We'll try and review the programme so far over the next few Blog posts but here let us concentrate on what will be taking place beyond the town boundaries.

New Mills is about 13 miles north of Buxton and sits just inside the boundary of the High Peak (Disley and Cheshire are a few yards further along the A6). New Mills has been hosting some splendid events in recent months (and Eddi Reader will be singing at the Arts Theatre on July 24th - though this isn't part of the Fringe). 

On Sunday July 12th (from 11.00am-12.30pm) the Halle Cellos will be playing at the Spring Bank Arts Centre in New Mills. Eight cellos from the internationally celebrated orchestra will be playing arrangements of opera favourites from Purcell to Puccini. Coffee and cake is included in the ticket price and it is likely that this show will sell-out quickly.

Six miles south of Buxton is the charming village of Crowdecote which sits in the upper Dove valley. The approach to the village from the A515 offers stunning views. A couple of years back the Pack Horse Inn was host to a wonderful evening of poetry. On July 24th the Packhorse Poets are back with two laureates: from Derbyshire there is Helen Mort and Gary Longden from Staffordshire (the county boundary is a short walk away). This should be a fabulous and intimate evening. The Pack Horse continues to get plenty of 5* reviews on Trip Advisor. Get there early for supper to be sure of a seat.

A little closer to Buxton is Chelmorton - a friendly village with a lovely church just four miles south of Buxton. 'Chelly' has a very strong community and it has organised its own week-long festival. From 13-19 July the village will be buzzing with a range of events. Crime writer Steven Dunne is bound to get an enthusiastic audience. Steven has written a series about DI Damen Brook who has moved from London to the quiet of the Peak District. You won't be surprised to find out that for Damen the Peak District turns out not to be so quiet.

Buxton Fringe

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