Church links up with Shipley Festival

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Bignor Church is once again this year an important venue for the Shipley Arts Festival, offering an all-English programme.

Recently-retired church warden Nick Symes, who organises music at the venue, is delighted to link up with the Festival.

“Last year was our first year involved with it, and it went very well. Like a lot of these things, the music circle is ever enlarging, and somebody suggested I contact (Festival artistic director) Andrew Bernardi to come and do something here, and in the end we became part of the Festival. We had almost a full church.

“The setting is so wonderful, and any downland village has a magic of its own. You combine that with a programme of English music, and the whole thing is just right for a summer’s evening.”

Nick added: “We started the concerts about 2003-04 to raise money for the lych-gate and it has just gone on from there it has become so popular.

“I look at it two ways - the fund-raising and the platform it provides for musicians. You could do raffles and jumble sales, but that would be boring. This provides a platform which is so important - and the musicians love it. The acoustic is so brilliant that they want to come back.

“Some of our musicians just spend their life teaching, and when they actually get the chance to play, they just love it. Throughout the year, we have a range of music, jazz, folk, classical.”

Some performers approach Nick; others come as recommendations from other people; others he comes across at other events.

“You see somebody you think is good and you write to them. Everybody has got email, Facebook, whatever. If you are a musician, you have got to be contactable!”

The Shipley Arts Festival concert at Bignor Church is on Saturday, June 11 at 7.30pm, offering an English programme to include Paul Lewis, Vaughan Williams - Lark Ascending and movements from John Rutter’s - Suite Antique.

Tickets £15 (limited to 100) from The Capitol box office on 01403 750220 or online at 

www.thecapitolhorsham.com.