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Joel Culpepper joins Guy Chambers on stage for the opening night of the Piano Festival

Joel Culpepper joins Guy Chambers on stage for the opening night of the Piano Festival

A festival to inspire Hastings’ young musical talent

This week sees the first event of the inaugural Hastings International Piano Festival which takes place from 26 February to 8 March at the White Rock Theatre and St Mary in the Castle. The festival homes in on all genres of music with an educational and entertaining offering of events. Young under-21 budding musicians should take special notice, as they can enjoy these mostly free of charge, writes Chris Cormack.

Guy Chambers headlines the first day of the Festival

Guy Chambers headlines the first day of the festival.

The first day’s line-up includes a free youth Songwriting Masterclass with BRIT Award-winning songwriter Guy Chambers at 4-5pm on Wednesday 26 February at the White Rock Theatre, followed by Guy’s evening concert at 7pm, which opens the festival.

The award-winning songwriter, musician and record producer, best known for his work with Robbie Williams, will guide young artists through the fundamentals of songwriting. Young songwriters are also invited to submit one of their pieces for consideration, a number of which will be selected by Guy for discussion on stage with the composers. Free tickets are available now and songs should be submitted here.

Joel Culpepper will be joining Guy Chambers on stage for the opening night. Joel has made huge strides in the industry working with Tom Misch, Swindle, FKJ, Redinho and Guy himself on some fascinating collaborative work which racked up over 9 million YouTube views and over 2 million Spotify streams. Expect to hear some of Guy’s most famous songs, an insight into how they were written and vocal performances showcasing Joel’s ‘unforgettable voice and distinctive style’. Click for more information and book here.

Reuben James brings his 20 piece band on Thursday

Reuben James brings his 10-piece band on Thursday.

The festival continues on Thursday 27 February with Reuben James, one of the UK’s most exciting young singer-songwriters and performers best known for his on-going collaborations with Sam Smith. Reuben co-wrote the title track from Smith’s most recent album, The Thrill Of It All, and the song Him. He  is bringing his 10-piece band to explore the boundaries between jazz and pop.

Opening for Reuben will be Hastings’ very own Marie White, who recently won the prestigious Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and has just returned from supporting Keane on their UK tour.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will bring sparkle to the Festival Classical Gala Concert on Saturday 29 February at the White Rock Theatre which will thrill

Exciting new Hastings talent, Marie White, performs with James Reuben

Exciting new Hastings talent, Marie White, performs with James Reuben.

the Piano Concerto Competition fans with its spectacular programme of piano concertos performed by an array of artists, including the BBC Young Musician of The Year Martin James Bartlett, the winner of the 2019 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition Fumiya Koido and prizewinner Sylvia Jiang.

The programme features Sylvia Jiang playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with Martin James Bartlett, and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Fumiya Koido. Tickets here and free under-21 tickets available here.

The competition has now gone biennial – it next takes place in 2021 – with the piano festival scheduled in the intervening years.

However we fans do not need to wait another year to take in Nocturne: the Romantic Life of Frédéric Chopin – an evening of words and music scripted and adapted from letters and diaries chronicling the romantic life of one of the greatest and most popular composers for solo piano. This event on Sunday 1 March at the White Rock Theatre is performed by Patricia Hodge and Philip Glenister accompanied by pianist Lucy Parham.

Also on 1 March, Electric Palace Cinema presents a special film screening of  Truffaut’s  Shoot the Piano Player, a film noir of gangsters and intrigue, with Charles Aznavour as a famous concert pianist who leaves his former life behind to play in a sleazy Parisian bar. Have you ever seen a silent movie? The festival gives you a chance to see the iconic Beggars of Life at St Mary in the Castle on Wednesday 4 March. Film critic Mark Kermode joins his bandmates The Dodge Brothers and acclaimed composer Neil Brand who plays the piano to William Wellman’s rail-riding rollercoaster. Free under-21s tickets are available here.

Claire Martin and friends at St Mary in the Castle 5 March

Claire Martin and friends at St Mary in the Castle 5 March

An important educational aspect of the festival is a series of Jazz Singing workshops with one of Europe’s foremost jazz vocalists, Claire Martin. Claire hosts four workshops at local primary schools, and two more at Eggtooth Project and White Rock Youth Theatre.

She signs off on Thursday 5 March at St Mary in The Castle, where she joins her friends, some of the jazz world’s greats, Liane Carroll, Alex Garnett and the Swedish Trio for a great concert. Book here. Under 21? Get your free tickets here.

Oscar winning composer and songwriter Rachel Portman will appear on Friday 6 March at St Mary in the Castle to perform and be interviewed about her extensive career. Rachel’s performance will include special collaborations with local pianists giving them a unique opportunity to perform with this globally renowned artist.

Rachel Portman at St Mary in the Castle on 6 March

Rachel Portman at St Mary in the Castle on 6 March

Bringing the 2020 festival to an exciting climax are the Puppini Sisters. The Queens of Close Harmony Swing, accompanied by the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, take to the stage at St Mary In The Castle on Saturday 7 March. Delighting the festival audience with their trailblazing re-workings of pop and classical songs, the performance will have the audience dancing in the aisles.

That’s not quite all – hopefully St Mary’s can be tidied up before the final interactive kids piano concert at 3pm on Sunday 8 March with pianists Holly Cullen-Davies and Kamilla Arku. This is an ideal event for children aged seven–11 and their families, with The Kids’ Concert Company providing classical, jazz and traditional music from other parts of the world, keeping them involved and participating at all times and of a length that children can manage. All children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Under 21? Get your free tickets here.


Festival ticketsFestival website

Listing free events for under 21s

Listing of free events for under 21s.

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Posted 16:09 Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020 In: Music & Sound

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