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The 2016 Hastings International Piano Competition – Chinese prodigy Ke Ma (21) dazzled in the final

Preview corner: What’s HOT in February

There’s always loads of things going on in Hastings and the surrounding area. And just because it’s cold and foggy, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get out and enjoy it. Every month we do a round-up of some of the things coming up that have caught our eye, and every month we ask Toby Sargent, our man with the V Reg Maestro, built-in cassette player and the string-backed driving gloves, to write it.

So how did you get on with Dry-January, then? Me neither. But not to worry, there’s always next year. In the meantime, though, let’s have a look at February’s events.

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The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition begins at The White Rock Theatre on 23 February

I suppose the biggest, and most prestigious, thing coming our way has to be the 13th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, which is taking place at the White Rock Theatre between 23 February and 4 March.

The competition attracts the finest young pianists from all over the world, and is organised around an elimination process that sees the 50 or so entrants performing before a panel of expert judges that reduces the number, across three stages, to just six who appear in the final.

This takes place across two nights and features the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra providing the orchestral settings for the virtuoso pianists.

The standard is amazingly high, and with sessions taking place at different times of the day and tickets starting at just £5, it really is worth a visit.

The highlight of the De La Warr Pavilion‘s live performance programme for the month has to be a concert by the hugely-talented Mary Chapin Carpenter on the 4th. Sometimes pigeon-holed as a country singer, she is in fact much more than that.

Mary Chapin Carpenter (Picture Credit Aaron Farrington)

Mary Chapin Carpenter (image Aaron Farrington)

There have been chart singles that suggest an emphasis on radio-friendly pop that pushes feminist themes, but the best work is the introspective and highly personal songs on the later albums which – for me at least – put her in, or very close to, the same place we find Suzanne Vega and even giants like Joni Mitchell.

Meanwhile in the ever-splendid Kino-Teatr in St Leonards we find the traditionally fine selection of  entertainment that characterises the venue. On screen you’ll find the Oscar-tipped Manchester by the Sea at the beginning of the month and later on Jackie, Lion and T2 Trainspotting.

On stage there’s Gwyneth Herbert (3/2), the Americana of Peter Bruntnell (17/2) and, just to demonstrate that the Kino can be relied upon to be nothing if not eclectic, they’re showcasing The Brighton and Hove Russian Choir (19/2) as well. As with everything mentioned here, check the links to the venues for times and booking details.

Anne and Gregory

Anne Niepold and Gregory Jolivet – Brexit won’t stop dim their love for putting on a great show

And while our minds are on what is sometimes called ‘world music,’ I give you Anne Niepold from Belgium on diatonic accordion and Gregory Jolivet from France on hurdy-gurdy. Annie is described as “a force of nature, brash, adventurous and phenomenally skilled, she takes the humble accordion in startling directions,” while Gregory “is simply one of the best hurdy-gurdy players in the world – funky, melodic, poly-rhythmic and effortlessly tuneful.” Tempted? Then get along to St Clement church in Hastings on 10/2 and enjoy an evening of folk and contemporary music. The show is in aid of the Hastings-based Two Towers Trust, by the way.

Meanwhile the Electric Palace Cinema are offering a full programme of high-quality work, much of which will be unfamiliar to many. But their programme is definitely worth a look, with two intriguing works from director Jim Jarmusch: Gimme Danger which explores the career of The Stooges (24 and 25/2), and Paterson (9,10 and 11/2) about a New Jersey bus driver and his poetic response to his surroundings. The latter was described by The Guardian thus: “Slowly but surely, the gentleness of Jim Jarmusch’s film steals up on you. It has an almost miraculous innocence.” It’s also part of a new wheeze by the cinema, which they describe as a Thursday night special dinner and film offer, allowing customers to enjoy delicious Moroccan cuisine at Café Maroc, followed by a movie treat.

Oh, and don’t forget that February includes Valentine’s Day, that annual triumph of hope over experience for most of us. This year, though, if you’re in the mood, you can take your special one on the night to see Casablanca at the Electric or Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the De La Warr Pavilion.

Finally, don’t miss One Man, Two Guvnors at The Stables (3-11\2). Like many, I saw the West End version some years ago and can confirm the work is a delight from start to finish. Written by Richard Bean, it is a “glorious celebration of British comedy: laugh-out-loud satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners,” as the theatre’s blurb puts it. But this is an amateur production, of course, and some may be wary of going along when things like timing and body language are so important to the play’s success. But have faith – the theatre’s acting company is outstanding and a great evening is pretty much guaranteed.

 

Posted 15:57 Monday, Jan 30, 2017 In: Arts & Culture

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