An open-air gala, featuring a wealth of talents, heralded the start of four weeks of top-quality arts and community events in and around the city.
Chichester novelist Kate Mosse, a supporter of the festival from its inception back in 2012, underlined the importance of the festival to Chichester; the Mayor of Chichester Julian Joy then declared the festival open.
Performers on Saturday afternoon included classical cross-over duo Tesoro, The Bernardi Music Group, jazz-blues singer Olivia Stevens and Chichester University’s Sleepy Lagoon Orchestra.
Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “This is our tenth festival and this has certainly been our best-ever opening event. Our festival co-ordinator Barry Smith pulled together a brilliant programme, organising it seamlessly. It was the perfect programme to entice people to sit in the sun and get a taste of the fabulous things we have got on offer this year.
“Obviously this was our first open-air gala festival launch since 2019, and it was great to have Kate Mosse back to set us on our way. She understands our festival completely – and we cherish the support she has always given us.
“And it was great to welcome Chichester’s new Mayor. We have always enjoyed the closest bonds of friendship with Chichester City Council whose encouragement and financial support have always been vital to our success.
“Tesoro performed absolutely beautifully, as did Andrew Bernardi and his colleagues from The Bernardi Music Group. Olivia has always been a great supporter of the festival and she too gave a great set. We were also hugely indebted to the University of Chichester’s brilliant Sleepy Lagoon Orchestra. It all added up to the perfect way to get everyone into the festival mood.”
Phil added: “I am particularly looking forward to Discovering Spymaster – A Conversation With Dr Helen Fry (Friday June 17, 6pm. The Council House, North Street).”
As the Second World War loomed Thomas Kendrick, ostensibly a passport officer in Vienna, was running British spy networks across Europe and using his position to help Austrian Jews flee to freedom. Historian and biographer Helen Fry will explore his life in conversation with the University of Chichester's Andrew Smith. Tickets £10.
“And another great highlight is going to be David Bathurst delivering all The Beatles songs from memory (Saturday July 2, 9.30am, St Mary’s & St Blaise, Boxgrove.”
David, who has previously recited the New Testament and the complete works of Gilbert & Sullivan from memory, will, from memory, sing every song recorded, composed and released by the Beatles onto one of their albums. Free entry.
Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith is also delighted with the programme: “We have a fabulous line-up to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our city festival which this year is part of the district wide Culture Spark showcase. Our aim is to bring together the talents of local performers and organisations with the added lustre that visiting national and international stars can bring.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming to the Cathedral two world class orchestras. Jess Gillam, the 23-year-old saxophone superstar, leads the London Mozart Players. The soloist for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is Leonard Elschenbroich, one of the world’s finest cellists.