Musical journey across eastern Europe

Festival of Chichester regular Meg Hamilton brings this year's Festival to a conclusion when she brings her She'Koyokh Klezmer and Balkan band to Halnaker Park Cottage at the far end of Park Lane, Halnaker.


The concert comes as part of the Amici Concerts series she runs with Amanda Cook within the Festival.

Touring their fourth album First Dance on Second Avenue, a journey across Eastern Europe and beyond, She’Koyokh starts out in 1950s New York and finishes up in a Turkish sauna, via Romanian mountains and Serbian villages, featuring klezmer, virtuosic Balkan dances and soulful songs from Albania, Armenia and Bulgaria.

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Meg said: “I have done all the Festivals of Chichester. The first time was I was playing with Kosmos and then it has alternated with Kosmos and She’koyokh. It is just lovely that there is a local festival here in the town where I was brought up when I was little and I just love keeping coming back here.

“It is wonderful to be able to bring some bands that I play with and other friends to the Festival. For the Amici series, this is our fourth year, but our third year as Amici. We launched in St John’s Chapel.

“It was such a success that we wanted to continue to build on it, and now we are based in St Pancras which is a new venue for us. It has got a fantastic acoustic, great facilities and also a fantastic location.

“The acoustic is very clear and very resonant and is not too boomy. Everyone loves the acoustic, both the musicians and audiences alike, and it is just wonderful to bring friends to the Festival and see the different reactions. They all love it. The series started as friends but has expanded to become friends of friends as well, and it is wonderful to have such a range of musicians and groups coming here – top-quality musicians. We are lucky to have some of the best performers in the country and in the world.

“For She’Koyokh this is our 17th year. We have been going since the early noughties, and it is great to play with such great musicians for so long now. Some of us are the same from the start, and we all met through our huge passion for Eastern European music. We all knew each other from busking in the east-end markets. Columbia Road flower market in Hackney was our favourite. It has got such a lovely feel. We played there most weekends and then through that we got invited to Jewish weddings and parties and eventually to do concerts and festivals.

“We have just released our fourth She’Koyokh album, First Dance on Second Avenue, which is the title of the first track on the album. It was originally done by a Yiddish legendary clarinettist, and we have done a new take on it and made it really jazzy. That came out in March.

“Our first album was very much klezmer which is Jewish music. Since then we have been branching out a lot more and studying Balkan music more generally. We play music from more areas now.

“This latest album is all sorts. We have branched out to Armenian music, and we are doing a Serbian song about pigeons and raspberries and also a song about squabbling in a Turkish sauna. It’s a real mix on our latest album, and we have had some great reviews.”

Parking available. Bring low chairs for picnics and concert. Tickets £17 (£18.50 on the door) including glass of wine; under-25s £10; under ten years free at the gate if dry weather.

Picnics from 1.30pm, with the music starting at 3pm on Sunday, July 16.

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