Heptonstall Festival 2013 – Event Details….

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Morning and Lunchtime Events 


Saturday 21 September from 10.30am

Alice, Mad Hatter and Mr Bloom

Heptonstall Festival this year has a major emphasis on children, families and the community.  As the village has emerged from months under the tyranny of heavy vehicles thundering through, September 21 will be a traffic-free day of make believe and fun.

The whole morning and lunchtime will be themed around Alice in Wonderland.  Villagers and visitors alike can join the Queen of Hearts’ barmy army.  It will be time to get lost in Lewis Carroll’s topsy turvy tale of doors too small for keys too big, ‘Drink me’ potions and Bread and Butterflies.  Who do we know who grins like the Cheshire Cat or is as illusive as the White Rabbit?  Which neighbour is as eccentric as the Mad Hatter or as fiery as the Red Queen?  Which children and which parents will be what, and who will the Queen’s Card Guards be?

The barmy army and camp followers will gather at Heptonstall School at 10.30 to be greeted by the Queen of Hearts, (local actress Ursula Holden Gill) and the White Rabbit (Sonia from Canopy Arts) together with the school’s Parent and Friends Association.  The Queen will give her Card Guards a final warming up prior to their long march.  A Mad Hatter (Sydney Roper) will no doubt make a nuisance of himself.

Then, led by the Red Rose New Orleans Band from Preston, the Queen will march her barmy army through the village streets to finish up in the old church ruins.  Once the army enters, the stalls will open, the giant bluebells will be hung and the fun begins.  The Queen and her entourage will hand on the giant teapot and cups to CBeebies’ Mr Bloom, who will open the proceedings and unveil all manner of treats for us all – music, dancing and an awful lot of homemade cakes!  The children will perform the composition they have created during the previous week.

Everyone should come with blankets and baskets filled with goodies for a Mad Hatters Tea Party (which, being in Wonderland, will be at lunchtime!).  The Red Rose band will hand over to Tim O’Connor and Des Horsfall from the musical melting pot of Manchester, who will entertain the tea party and carry us through into the afternoon.

The Heptonstall Wonderland will not have started on 21 September.  For many days before, festival teams will have been working with the children, their families and teachers in both Colden and Heptonstall Schools to make the dreams come true.

In Heptonstall School, the whole curriculum in the week before the festival will have been devoted to music, design and costume making.  In Colden School, this will have happened at drop-in sessions at the after-school club.  A festival arts team of Mimi Faulks, Jo Harris, Chrissy from Hat Therapy and Mel Daniels, the Dramasaurus teacher, will have worked with the children to make all their wonderful Wonderland costumes.  Romily Meredith will have helped with the giant teapot and teacup;  and Sandra McCracken will have assisted the making of giant willow bluebells.

Ursula Holden Gill and Sonia from Canopy Arts will also have helped the children develop the drama and action for the day.  The Card Guards will have been drilled to perfection, and everyone will have warmed up for Wonderland and brushed up on their fun procession poses.  Composer Katie Chatburn will have helped the children compose the music that they would then perform on the day at the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

At Colden School, the festival team will have been joined by Jo Wells and parent Sarah Regan.

Village Bunting

A key part of the festival is the bunting.  Local people have been designing flags for “I Spy with my Little Eye” and creating images of distant views, like Stoodley Pike or Pecket Well, or close up, like a robin, a tree in the garden, members of the family, or Grandpa’s hands.  The flags will debut this year and will continue to grow and decorate local events for years to come.

So, dear reader, have you yet made your bunting.  If not, get to it, or it will be off with your heads!

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Afternoon Events


The afternoon at this year’s Heptonstall festival on Saturday 21 September will be a galaxy of a dozen or more bands performing on two stages, together with a local bawdy drama, magic, storytelling, dancing and much, much more.  The first stage will be in Weavers Square, as it has been in previous years.  But the second stage will be in the old church ruins of St Thomas a Beckett.  The ruins provide a highly atmospheric backdrop for drama and music.  In previous years, a Handel opera was performed there as part of Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and Sheffield University frequently performed Shakespeare plays.  But this is the first such use in the 21st century.  The festival committee is most grateful for the support of the vicar and churchwarden.

Music commences at 11.45 in the old church ruins, during the Mad Hatters Tea Party, with Tim O’Connor and Des Horsfall.  O’Connor is a charismatic performer creating a warm and dynamic atmosphere for the day.  With Irish roots, he grew up musically in the melting pot of Manchester.  His father played ukulele à la George Formby.  His influences include the Beatles, Dylan and Neil Young but he has found his own style.  Prior to Heptonstall he has played in festivals like Celtic Connections in Scotland, Roche sur Foron in France, Zamek in Poland, Oslo Irish and Boston Johnny D’s Club.

On the square, music starts at 12 noon with singer/songwriter Paul Weatherhead.  The exciting and eclectic programme throughout the day includes some nationally famous, some up and coming locals and young bands from the Royal Northern College and Leeds College of Music.

The main headline act, playing in the old church ruins at 5.55, is Nizlopi – John Parker (double base and human beatbox) and Luke Concannon (vocals, guitar and bodhrán), whose most successful JCB song reached number one in the UK on its second release. The band is named after an Hungarian girl whom Luke fancied at school. Described by Radio 1 as “Political, intense, angular and beautiful”, they play joyful stories, from heart cracked open love songs to their people power invocation ‘England Uprise!’.

The other headline act, playing at 5.05, is Taylor Jackson, Manchester born and bred soulstress, whose debut EP ‘Roots’ is available right now!  For over 10 years she has been writing, producing, recording and performing music with fellow artists and musicians. Her first solo project draws from her own experience, her love of soul music, and her degree in classical composition to produce something truly inspirational.

James Christy is a Pop Rock singer/songwriter from the north of England. After the success of James’s debut album “Man Made of Glass” James has moved on to bigger and better things. Over the last year James has formed a backing band around himself and they have been performing all over the country and have been recently selected to play on the Atom Live tour in October later this year.

James Paul on the other hand is an experienced, enthusiastic guitarist from Edinburgh and RNCM, looking to develop new ways of playing guitar and inducing new sounds to enhance everyday music, from jazz and hip hop to rock and funk, being as diverse as possible in a session.  Prior to Heptonstall, he has played at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, Queen’s Hall and Traverse Theatre.

Other performers include bluegrass group from the hills of West Yorkshire, Cowbaby, playing Americana and acoustic, Jenni Doyle, Adonis, Bath-based singer/songwriter Ash Tucker, local singer Penny Stansfield,  close harmony singers from RNCM Three of Hearts and Heptonstall’s very own Chris Hancox All Star Experience.  There will also be bands in the White Lion.

Apart from music, there will be magic by the magnificent Alexander Wells, who will also be MC’ing, dance by the Hebden Bridge’s famous Hill Millies and a young Colden Morris group, clowns and a local bawdy drama, “Much Ado about Something” by Geoff Scott, about the exploits of some beer-loving and women chasing local lads. There will be both storytelling and song by Ursula Holden Gill.

Performances will finish at 7pm, in readiness for the candle-lit evening concert with David Owen Lewis, Margaret Bruce and Iyad Sughayer.

Food, Drink and Craft Stalls

There will we a wide feast of beer, wine, tea and food stalls and tents, and craft stalls of all types, on the square, in the churchyard and on Towngate.  The two local breweries, Bridestones and Little Valley, will each have a tent, Bridestones on the Square and Little Valley in the old church ruins.  The two village pubs, the White Lion and the Cross, and Towngate Tearoom will also be open all day, providing solid and liquid refreshment.

Towngate Tearooms, the village deli, will have a stall on the Square and the Proved Pizza Van will also be there.  In the ruins will be both Thai and French food stalls and a tea stall run by the church.  Come Dine with Me star, Heptonstall’s Jan Lymer, will also have a sweetie stall.

On the Square, there will be a vintage clothes tent, Richard Hemmingway’s Ironworks, BEAT (Blackshaw Environmental Action), HELP (Heptonstall Lights and Planting) and Nicola’s knitting stall.  In the old church ruins and the churchyard there will be facepainting, hula hooping, sand art and Andy Bell’s Strange Thing.  While on Towngate, there will be Blackbark Greenwood Working, Caroline’s church stall, Craggs Cakes and Helen Hought.

Something for everyone, Heptonstall’s flowering of cultural and social dynamic will a traffic-free day  –  a day of relief from eight months when the village was a traffic maelstrom while a landslip closed the by-pass.

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Evening Events


Saturday 21 September from 7.30pm

Victoria Sharp (Soprano); David Owen Lewis (Baritone); Margaret Bruce (Keyboard); Iyad Sughayer (Keyboard)

When the bands have stopped playing and the craft stalls packed away their produce, the atmosphere at Heptonstall Festival will change for an all-star candlelit evening concert under canvas in the ruins of the ancient St Thomas a Becket Church.

Very well known to concert-goers in and around the Calder Valley, baritone David Owen Lewis will be singing a programme of romantic arias, Neapolitan love songs and hits from the shows, together with international concert pianist, Margaret Bruce.

David Owen-Lewis was born in the Swansea Valley. He started singing at an early age and has never stopped. He studied at the National Welsh College of Music and Drama and his life has been one long adventure in music ever since. Having started his career at the end-of-the-pier and then being a member of Opera North for a quarter century, he always found time for oratorio, concerts, music-hall and cabaret, including several years with Pennine Spring Music in Heptonstall. He starred in the Handel opera performed in the old church ruins in 1998.

He now performs regularly with Margaret Bruce in Britain, France and Italy. But equally important to him is his work with Moodswings and Streetwise Opera in Manchester, sharing music with the homeless and people with bi-polar conditions, and also with Mind in Bradford.

Canadian born Margaret Bruce has had an entire repertoire of music written for her by composers as famous as Herbert Howells and Lennox Berkeley. Born on the Pacific Coast, she received a scholarship to Toronto’s Royal Conservatory in her mid teens. At 18 she came to the Royal College of Music in London and her British debut in 1968 was in Winchester Cathedral and Wigmore Hall. With Peter Gellhorn she established Canadians and Classics at St. Johns Smith Square.

She’s played Mozart at the Barbican with the Royal Philharmonic, Liszt in Slovakia, and varied recitals throughout North America and Europe. The Czech composer Tucapsky has written various work for her, including Tara’s Song for her young grand-daughter. Margaret has held many concerts over the years at her home at Walshaw Lodge and has performed at Pennine Spring. She now plays with David Owen Lewis across the UK and Europe.

19 year old Iyad Sughayer is a young virtuoso Jordanian/Palestinian pianist who studied at Chethams School in Manchester and is now at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he has just been runner-up in the International Concerto Competition. Playing since age of five, Iyad is no stranger to the international stage, having performed in the Middle East, Russia, UK and other countries in Europe. As well as a solo pianist, Iyad has played concertos with the European Chamber Orchestra, the Prague Youth Orchestra, Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra, Buxton Chamber Orchestra, Cairo Symphony Orchestra and Amman Symphony Orchestra. He has also been awarded 1st prizes in the Chetham’s Concerto Competition and the Chetham’s Beethoven Competition.

He is performing extensively particularly in the UK, his native Jordan and recently at the Madinat Jumeirah Theatre in Dubai and the Mashrek International School in Amman (under the patronage of HRH Princess Rym Ali). He has made a number of recent live recordings of Mozart (Adagio in B Minor and Piano Concerto no 18) and Chopin (Nocturne No 1). He played stunningly at this year’s Pennine Spring Music in Heptonstall, where he was the star of the week.

Victoria Sharp is a leading soprano with the Opera North chorus, of which she has been a member for 25 years. She is currently performing nationwide as the Lady in Waiting in Verdi’s Macbeth, as Ninetta in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and in Britten’s Peter Grimes. Her past roles for Opera North have included Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Despina (Cosi Fan Tutti) and Fasquita (Carmen). She has given a renowned performance of Turandot in which she will sing the title role.

She is a performer much in demand for her oratorio and musical singing around the UK and abroad. She has recent given what was described as a blazing performance at an opera gala of classics in Ilkley, singing Puccini, Lehar, Paganini and Heuberger. She is giving a Christmas performance of Mozart at The Mansion in Leeds.

Vicky has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, the Cheltenham Festival, the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. And, of course, she has starred many times with Opera North colleagues at Pennine Spring in Heptonstall.

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