Petworth Festival offers the chance to come and sing Disney

Ben Parry credit Susan Porter Thomas
Ben Parry credit Susan Porter Thomas

Petworth Festival’s popular Come and Sing with Ben Parry and friends continues this year with a special Come and Sing... the Music of Disney.

The date will be Saturday, July 20 at St Mary’s Church. Tickets are £12.50; 18 and under £5 to include score; concert tickets £3 on the door.

Ben, National Youth Choir of Great Britain supremo, will conduct, and his daughter Freya Parry will be the soloist.

Ben is inviting all comers to throw off their inhibitions – and possibly throw on some choice pieces of costume – in celebration of the great Disney films of the past 80 years, from The Lady and The Tramp and The Jungle Book through to Beauty and The Beast, the Toy Story series, The Lion King and Frozen.

As before, no special singing skills are required although SATB music scores will be included in the ticket price for those who dare...

Turn up at 12.45pm for a 1pm start. The afternoon ends at 4pm following an informal performance at 3.15pm.

Friends and family are welcome to come to St Mary’s at 3pm for the concert.

“I think we have done three or four of these now in Petworth. We did Sound of Music and last year we did Abba.”

As Ben says, it’s great to become part of a festival and, over time, an event that people will expect and will be looking forward to.

“The way we do this is essentially that it is for everybody, either those that love singing on stage or in church or those who just sing in the shower.

No experience is needed other than a love of singing songs together.

“The audience is in effect the chorus and also the headline act.

“This year we are doing Disney songs, and we hope that there will be something for everybody.

“Everybody loves Disney songs and it goes across all the generations from The Lady and The Tramp right through to Frozen and Moana. Disney songs are songs that appeal to absolutely everyone.”

And for Ben it is great fun: “It is lovely getting people to sing. I was on the radio last night with my youth choir, and we were talking about how it is now proven that music is so good for your well-being and also for mindfulness.

“We know that the benefits work so well, and with this the songs are so good!

“I have been a professional musician for 30 years.

“I grew up in a musical family. I remember singing from the earliest age. Some of my earliest memories are music.

“I was always surrounded by music. It was always a foregone conclusion that I was going to become a musician music was just so deeply rooted in me.

“And I am so lucky to get such a range of experiences. One day I might be singing choral evensong and then the next day doing film sessions and then the next a workshop with 200 school children and then the next day doing a Come and Sing in Petworth! There is such a lovely breadth to what I do.”

The point is that singing lights up the brain.

“We have done some scientific studies with the youth choir.

“We linked some of the singers up to a brain scanner, and we just noticed that as soon as they started singing, the brain just came alive. It is the raw visceral energy of when we sing, particularly in a group.

“There is something very strong in singing as a soloist, but very strong too as a group.

“There is an empathy that we have when we sing together, when you are doing something together. We know that heartbeats will actually regulate when we sing together.

“It’s an absolutely fundamental human quality.”

For full details of this year’s Petworth Festival, see http://www.petworthfestival.org.uk/whats-on.

Tickets are available from the website or on 01798 344576.

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