A celebration of the natural beauty of the Sussex landscape

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A celebration of the natural beauty of the Sussex landscape is at the heart of a special programme of words and music put together by classical guitarist Linda Kelsall-Barnett and poet Barry Smith for the Festival of Chichester.

Taking place on Friday, July 19, at 3pm in St John’s Chapel, Chichester, Linda and Barry hope to share their enthusiasm for the restorative and uplifting qualities of nature. Tickets £10 from the Novium, 01243 816525. www.festivalofchichester.co.uk.

Barry and Linda are regular participants in the Festival, Barry having been one of the founding members of the city’s arts festival and its co-ordinator for the first ten years while Linda has given concerts in every year of the festival’s existence. Barry said: “When I launched my latest poetry collection, Reeling and Writhing (Dempsey and Windle) at Chichester Library last year, Linda played musical interludes for my poetry reading. We experimented with Linda’s music underpinning my poem, Willows, which was inspired by both the Sussex landscape and by famous Sussex artist Ivon Hitchens’ paintings. People seemed to enjoy the blend of words and music, so we’ve developed the theme for this year’s festival. I’ll be reading poems on the Selsey Tramway, Nymans garden, on churches and churchyards, the dramatic Needles off the Isle of Wight and also the ancient pilgrim routes. We’re including one piece taken from my musical version of the Lewis Carroll Alice stories which was performed recently at Bishop Luffa School, as part of their sixtieth anniversary celebration.”

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Linda added: “The first time I accompanied Barry reciting his poetry was on National poetry day – we presented a short impromptu item – and the successful result led us to Pastoral Idyll. I’m playing classical guitar pieces that enhance the mood of each of Barry’s poems, chosen for a variety of reasons – sometimes the title suggests a similar theme or the words have a particular rhythmic feel.

Barry Smith & Linda Kelsall-Barnett (contributed pic)Barry Smith & Linda Kelsall-Barnett (contributed pic)
Barry Smith & Linda Kelsall-Barnett (contributed pic)

“For Barry’s I will not be silenced, inspired by Greta Thunberg, I play a Prelude by the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos, which describes a storm in the rainforest. Several of Barry’s poems are full of imagery from the countryside so the rustic folk-tunes of The English Suite by John Duarte work perfectly. Additionally, I will be playing solo, taking the pastoral theme to Spain with In The Wheatfields by Rodrigo. In contrast I will also play two Roman pieces which I composed, based on rhythmic patterns from Odes by Horace – which I play on a guitar tuned like a lyre, with a cocktail stick through the strings to change the sound!”

Barry Smith is currently director of the South Downs Poetry Festival and is patron of the Shelley Memorial Project. His two poetry collections, Performance Rites (Waterloo Press) and Reeling and Writhing have been well-received by critics. Linda Kelsall-Barnett currently teaches at Westbourne House and Bishop Luffa schools and has a thriving private teaching practice. She has given many solo recitals and is a long-standing member of the West Sussex Guitar Club. She directs the West Sussex Guitar Club Orchestra.

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