Festival of Chichester 2021 line-up unveiled

A fantastic range of events will go sale on Friday as the Festival of Chichester opens its box office for business.
Festival of ChichesterFestival of Chichester
Festival of Chichester

Dame Penelope Keith, Kate Mosse and Loyd Grossman, the Castalian Quartet, pianist Young-Choon Park, guitarists Linda Kelsall-Barnett and Rob Johnson, the Charlotte Glasson Jazz Trio, the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, a virtual Summer Feel Good Show from CAOS, poet Vicki Feaver and Chichester Art Society will all be taking part.

The 2021 festival will run from Saturday, June 12 to Sunday, July 11.

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Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “We are delighted to be able to bring you such an outstanding programme after such a difficult year.

“We all want to have some fun as we try to emerge from these horrible times, but equally we are making sure that our festival for 2021 is respectful, sensible, safe and wholly appropriate to the times we have been through.

“Inevitably as we are going to span that crucial June 21 date when it is possible that all restrictions might be lifted, our festival this year will be a mix of live and online. We want to make our festival-goers as comfortable as we possibly can with the events that we will have on offer. We appreciate some people will be keen to get out while others, completely understandably, might be a little more wary. Our point is that with our mix of live and online we are going to be making everyone welcome somehow!”

In April the Festival of Chichester received a perfectly timed boost in the shape of a £2,500 discretionary grant from Chichester City Council to help with event publicity. Earlier this year, Chichester District Council awarded the Festival a grant of £1,600 towards the cost of a new website and a new vastly-improved event registration system.

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“We are hugely grateful to our local authorities for embracing exactly what we are trying to do with this festival and all that we want it to be this year.

“But as chairman, I would like also to say a massive thank you to our wonderful Festival committee. We have carried on meeting by Zoom throughout the pandemic – and they have been brilliant in their enthusiasm and in their determination.

“Barry Smith and Anne Scicluna and I are the last three of the Festival’s founders. Barry is absolutely indefatigable in his role as Festival co-ordinator, and Anne brings fantastic common sense and huge knowledge of Chichester.

“Simon O’Hea has masterminded our digital and web revolution. His work for the Festival has been superb. Just take a look at our website to see.

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“Nick Sutherland as our treasurer has navigated us through all the financial challenges of the past year. We know we are in good hands with Nick. Katie Bennett brings huge energy and commitment to our social media presence. Dan Inman, Canon Chancellor at Chichester Cathedral, ensures our warm friendship with the Cathedral flourishes; and our newest recruit

Carol Webb has slipped wonderfully well into our mix.

“I should also stress the Chichester Observer remains a fantastic ally for the Festival. I have said it repeatedly, but I am convinced that there is not another paper in the country that so generously embraces its community festival.”

As the country bounces back from pandemic restrictions, the Festival of Chichester returns with a bang.

Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith said: “The message we’re getting is that people are desperate to get back to enjoying live events once more. We’re delighted to be able to bring to the city a month long programme of exciting events – live, virtual and outdoors – running from June 12 to July 11. It’s been a rollercoaster ride as we’ve put together a really special programme to welcome audiences back to the joys of sharing the pleasure of great performances in venues across our historic city.

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“There will be a fantastic choice of entertainment, ranging from classical concerts to jazz gigs to book talks with famous authors, comedy, theatre, exhibitions, live-streaming shows, walks and tours and much more, with famous names such as Dame Penelope Keith, Kate Mosse and Loyd Grossman.

“The line-up includes top notch classical concerts with festival favourites Ensemble Reza playing Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, the Castalian Quartet with Daniel Lebhardt performing Brahms’ Piano Quintet and the Bach Players with the joyous Brandenburg Concerto No 5, all at the Assembly Room. At the Cathedral we have international pianist Young-Choon Park performing a Schubert Sonata and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Chichester classical guitarist Linda Kelsall-Barnett returns with another entertaining selection of musical gems.

““Other music includes the toe-tapping Cuban band, the Latin Bridge, in an open-air gig with picnics at Halnaker, blues guitarist Rob Johnson and the engaging Charlotte Glasson Jazz Trio, with legendary guitarist Chris Spedding, at the Poetry & Jazz Café, which also features Romani poet Raine Geoghegan.

“Spoken word and theatre events include the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company performing an uplifting take on the early life of Charlie Chaplin, staged outdoors with picnics at Halnaker park, a virtual Summer Feel Good Show from CAOS, the Chichester-based musical group, book launches from Chichester’s Kate Mosse and also Loyd Grossman, TV celebrity from Master Chef and many other programmes, discussing his new book on art in Rome. One of the undoubted highlights will be Poetry and Music with Olivier and BAFTA award winner Dame Penelope Keith, plus lauded Scottish poet Vicki Feaver, at the Cathedral. Fondly remembered for her TV sitcoms, The Good Life and To the Manor Born, Dame Penelope is well-known to city audiences through her performances at the Festival Theatre.

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“There will lots of stimulating exhibitions including Chichester Art Society’s Oxmarket show, an enticing Open Studios art trail and Catherine Barnes’ popular Pictures in the Porch.

“And of course lots of quirky, unexpected events such as a wine tasting and a bumblebee identification workshop! Following on from last year’s virtual festival, there’ll be plenty to enjoy online too, including an exciting new Festival Free Fringe livestreaming from the Vicars Hall and a rerun of the South Downs Poetry Festival’s acclaimed YouTube film celebrating the bicentenary of John Keats

“There’s so much to enjoy – and what a delight it will be to feel again that buzz of excitement as a live performance starts.”

The virtual box office launch will be from 1830 to 1900 on Friday, May 7. This event will be held on Zoom. Anyone wishing to attend should contact [email protected]

The Festival is delighted to have the continuing support of its distinguished Festival Patron, Dame Patricia Routledge.


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