Welcome to the King's Lynn Festival Blog

Year-Round Treats!

Posted on 10/10/16 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

The first of four Coffee Concerts took place on Friday 7 October.  The super-talented 19-year-old pianist Yuanfan Yang wowed a full house at the Town Hall with a programme which included his own composition, Waves.  The piece was beautifully evocative of the motion of the sea from calm to swell, both relaxing and exhilarating at the same time.  His programme aslo included Rachmaninoff Moments Musicaux No.4 and Chopin Etude in A minor (Winter Wind) - fiendish challenges for the left hand which he made seem effortless.  Let me make it clear I am no music critic and certainly no expert, but I think that it was obvious to everyone on Friday that Yuanfan is an exceptional talent with a bright future as a performer and composer.  I hope we can book him for the Festival again soon - if we do, I predict we will sell out quickly.

Jo's last week... 

Posted on 02/09/16 by Jo Jones, Communication and Events Intern

It is my last week here at the King’s Lynn Festival and the six months have absolutely flown by! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, exploring Norfolk and the surrounding areas. It was a great insight to work with such a great team to create a festival with such world class performances. I loved seeing all our hard work come together and hearing all the great feedback from the audience.

I have just finished archiving all the old posters and brochures from the previous years- all the way back from 1951! It was amazing to see all the historic information and all the fantastic acts we’ve had over the years.

I’ve also been busy scheduling all the stewards for the winter season, it is so fantastic to have so many willing volunteers that help support the festival. I have learnt so much in these short months, which will help me greatly in the future. I would like to thank King’s Lynn Festival for the great opportunity they have given me to learn the behind-the-scenes of such an incredible arts organisation.

The King’s Lynn Festival is a very special festival that brings such culture and variety to the town, I was very honoured to be part of it. I hope you all have a great winter season and a fantastic summer programme - which I know you will! I will greatly miss everyone and would love to come back and visit next year!


Team of 2016 L-R: Jo, Alexis, Kate, Ema

Post Festival Blues

Posted on 08/08/16 by Jo Jones, Communication and Events Intern

The festival kicked off with a day of free events to promote the festival and have some fun. As I had had a big part in organising this, it was incredible, (and a relief!) to see it all come together so smoothly. We were very lucky with the weather and all our acts and supporters were brilliant throughout. We had tubas trumping their stuff in town as well the Hoofbeat street band. We were also lucky enough to have Cube Café, an amazing little car with an espresso machine in the boot and Tim Love’s fantastic ice cream bike. The highlight of the day was watching Ema and Kate dancing like crazy with the silent disco headphones on. The Norfolk Knitters also provided a whole lot of atmosphere with their 1940’s tunes and wool workshops. All in all the day was a great success and a great way to start the festival.

During the festival I was lucky enough to see some amazing events from talks from the art historian Andrew Graham Dixon to the last night, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, which completely blew me away. I thought The Unthanks were very magical and atmospheric to watch and the coffee concerts were great (especially the cake!)

I thoroughly enjoyed looking after the artists and making sure they had everything they needed back stage. I loved meeting all the stewards as I knew all their names from organising the steward’s schedules but meeting them face to face and getting to know them was lovely experience.

Another part of the festival I enjoyed was helping set up the Susan Bacon exhibition in the Fermoy Gallery with our star gallery manager Zoe.

A big highlight for me was the Hands on Harps sessions run by Morwenna and Creag with their little son Django. Watching everyone learning to play the harp together, from all different ages, was a great event.

Although I am now very sad the festival is over we are already busy preparing for the winter season and trying to bring some order back to the office!
 

What a scorcher!

Posted on 19/07/16 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

Thanks to everyone who came along to our free outdoor events on Saturday in King's Lynn town centre.  The weather was perfect and the mix of jazz, classical, folk, disco and knitting certainly entertained!  We handed out 1,000 brochures and hopefully encouraged a few people who haven't attended one of our events before to come along over the next fortnight.

We've had a fantastic variety of music already - the first night's Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra performance of popular classics and movie music received a standing ovation.  Conductor Tim Redmond's interaction with the audience was highly entertaining - and I've never see a conductor jump so much!  My personal favourite piece of the evening was Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice, usually played by a much larger orchestra, the arrangement lost none of the appeal and was inventive and quirky in producing the required 'big sound'.

Last night we had back-to-back performances from Contemporary Consort and Lau.  Our featured composer was Toby Young and the consort's wonderful musicians played to an appreciative (if rather hot!) audience.  I always enjoy listening to new and unfamiliar music, and thought the programme ably demonstrated the breadth of Toby's considerable composing talent.  Then after washing up 80 glasses and bundling everything into the back of the Festival car (thanks to Mercedes-Benz of King's Lynn!) I caught up with Lau, who played at Latitude Festival at the weekend.  I've listened to some of their music on SoundCloud but I wasn't prepared for their amazing, atmospheric and intimate live set.  I'd put in the brochure that The Guardian had said they were "The UK's best live band" and I would have to agree they are definitely up there!  I bought their latest CD after the gig and got them to sign it for me (had to be done!) and have been playing Ghosts on repeat ever since...

So, only 3 days in to the 66th Festival, and so many riches already discovered - what comes next is going to be great - and very hot!

Hello!

Posted on 10/05/16 by Jo Jones, Communications & Events Intern

Hello, I’m Jo the new Communication and Events Intern at King’s Lynn Festival. I am a recent graduate from Arts University Bournemouth in Costume with Performance Design where I had the honour of winning the Scenography Design Prize. I have worked in set and costume design for Winchester Youth Theatre, in opera with Dorset Opera Company and as AsOne Theatre company, while also creating and producing my own performance pieces. 

I have had a variety of roles from creating a Halloween Ball in the Barbican Vaults to working as a stitcher on-board a cruise ship in Mexico! I'm an enthusiastic individual who enjoys turning stories and characters of the imagination from novels and scripts into designs for stage. I am also interested in the unlimited ways in which materials can be transformed through textiles, and narratives told through masks and puppetry.

The opportunity of being part of such a fantastic programme of arts while learning the ‘behind the scenes’ of how such a company works is an incredible experience - one I look forward to greatly!

Half way there already

Posted on 22/01/16 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

After a reasonbly quiet spell, it feels like we've really hit the loud pedal on the 66th King's Lynn Festival now... With less then 6 months to go, the next few weeks will see us finalising the 2016 programme (please join our mailing list to be first to hear who's coming), we'll also be recruiting an intern, putting together our 2016 membership pack and preparing for our press launch on 24 February at the lovely Bank House Hotel.  Then on 4 March we will be attending the annual Mayor's Business Awards at the Corn Exchange for the very first time. We've made it to the final 3 in our category, we've had a short film made for the evening and had our interview with the judges, but we'll have to wait and see if we scoop the Leisure & Tourism Award on the evening. It all sounds a bit like West Norfolk's version of the BAFTAs or the Golden Globes - I promise to pull a Leonardo-DiCaprio-style-freaked-face when the winner is announced... whoever it is!
 

An awful ordeal for a lovely lady

Posted on 04/12/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

We were shocked and saddened today to hear about a vicious attack on the two little dogs belonging to Festival friend and regular volunteer Jean Tuck.
 
Jean is well respected in the local community and has received two Voluntary Service Awards from The Mayor of King's Lynn & West Norfolk.  She is also a familiar face to many of our Festival audience - earlier this year she completed her 50th year of being a Festival volunteer.  I'm sharing this photo of Jean, taken during July's Festival which captures her lovely welcoming smile and cheerful disposition.
 
I know that everyone involved with the Festival would not hesitate to join in sending our very best wishes to Jean at what is surely a very difficult time for her and her husband. 
 

Talk Sense

Posted on 23/09/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

I'm glad our new season has continued our association with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as they always deliver top-notch speakers for us.  Last year Emily Penn gave an excellent account of her unusual voyage to Kiribati to set up a recylcing scheme, and architect Hugh Broughton spoke about his amzaing Halley VI Station built in Antarctica.  This season we have scientist and adventurer Tim Jarvis giving us an insight into his authentic recreation of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1916 southern voyage, the greatest survival journey of all time.  Also archaeologist  Dr Jago Cooper from the British Museum will be following on from his recent BBC series exploring The Lost Kingdoms of Central Amercia.  I can't wait!

Post-Festival Post!

Posted on 21/08/15 by Dan Brown, Communications & Events Intern

It’s been a while since my last blog post (over 2 months I believe), lots has been happening!  The King’s Lynn Festival from 12th-25th July was a great success! All the prep-work and busy July schedule seemed to pay off. I personally got to see two fantastic performances.

Viva Vivaldi on the 12th July exposed me to the fantastic European Union Chamber Orchestra - got to sit near the front and soak in their brilliant string ensemble performances. The King’s Lynn Festival Chorus joining on the ‘Gloria, Vivaldi’ performance was particularly memorable; amazing how they can all fit on stage!

Benjamin Grosvenor on the 23rd July was musically inspiring. I helped to steward before the event started and watch him rehearse in St. Margaret’s Church venue. The combination of an amazing performance situated in a grand church with dusk setting in proved to be an atmospheric event. The crowd gave a standing ovation at the end; well deserved to someone with such a bright musical future.

The tasks I’ve been involved with during my internship have been varied. Working with the Lynn Museum and their intern Morgan was an interesting balance of learning the rich history of the Festival and getting the displays done for the deadlines. I’ve visited many of the historic buildings around King’s Lynn now for one reason or another, mainly to distribute the variety of brochures and leaflets we produce or to relay important info across to them. I spent a lot of time scheduling and planning the town events for the 25th July, and apart from an early morning cancellation due to bad weather, it seemed to run successfully (balloons went down a treat for the kids).

All the Festival banners around King’s Lynn town were put up and taken down by me throughout the festival. Now the festival’s over, it seems we’re looking ahead to the new Year-Round events starting on 17th October. I’ve already processed a lot of ticket sales in the office for the Fairey Band concert, it seems the festival has a loyal fan base who are willing to get involved in the events our festival has to offer.

I would encourage others to see what King’s Lynn Festival is about, as between their small but hardworking team organising it all, they bring a great level of culture and music to the area that perhaps locals may take for granted.

In Full Swing!

Posted on 21/07/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

I can't believe we are already more than half way through the 65th Festival!  We've had some truly remarkable performances so far.  I've managed to catch a few of the events this year, and have loved the variety and the professionalism of everything I've seen.

I had the pleasure of meeting many of the artists including Andrew Graham-Dixon, and listening to his art appreciation masterclass.  I guess I was expecting him to mention Caravaggio, which he did, but I wasn't expecting such a great story about modern art collecting and ham sandwiches!

The Contemporary Consort on Monday 13 July again exceeded my expectations - I am not a classical music buff by any means, but I was absolutely enthralled by Howard Skempton's Lullaby for clarinet and cello - it really was one of the most enchanting pieces of music I have ever heard.

I really enjoyed Swinging at the Cotton Club - it sadly wasn't a sell-out, so I grabbed a seat near the back of the Corn Exchange, but I think I got one of the best seats as you could really appreciate the Jiving Lindy Hoppers' choreography from up there.

Yesterday was the first of our free pop-up concerts.  After their two sell-out concerts (at Westacre Theatre and the Town Hall) I had the pleasure of taking the lovely Solem Quartet to play a short informal concert at Rathskeller Bar on the South Quay.  When I happened to mention that I used to run a rock music festival, in my honour they did a great version of a Guns n Roses song....  wasn't expecting that!!! Those guys can literally play anything... they are amazing...

This year we are handing out postcards as a different way to collect audience comments, so come and find me at one of the events and say hi!


Second blog post from Festival Intern

Posted on 07/05/15 by Dan Brown, Communications & Events Intern

From the opening of general public Festival booking on 27th April, ticket sales for events I’m monitoring such as the ‘Hanseatic Walk’ in July and the ‘Francis Bacon Exhibition’ in June have taken off. Hopefully this trend continues throughout May. My involvement in brochure distribution has also increased a lot. The 28th and 29th April saw me going around areas such as Spalding, Wisbech and Long Sutton delivering our Festival brochures to various shops, offices and Tourist info centres. The 5th May also provided a chance for me and Kate to go to the Norwich Forum with a stall to let passers-by take our brochure.

As the time has gone by new jobs have been arising for me, ranging from getting Festival T-Shirts printed with our Logo, helping to organise a charity shop window display competition and also contacting the museum’s intern in King’s Lynn to help with a Festival Museum display showing off old pictures, programmes and documents of the Festival. One of my long term projects right now is to co-organise the free pop-up events that will take place in King’s Lynn town centre on the 25th July. These will be 5 events happening throughout the day, ranging from a children’s cushion theatre event to a whole choir performing in the town! Doing this is helping me to learn about all the pre-planning that goes into making this happen, from scheduling, health & safety, budgeting, as well as simply getting permission for the area or from the artist(s). Hopefully all goes well on the day, (as long as the rain stays away).

I expect May will continue the trend of odd jobs popping up for me to do, as well as planning/monitoring the existing things that are in the works right now. The Festival seems to be slowly creeping up on us now, I’ve reserved my ‘Viva Vivaldi’ tickets already!          

 

Our first sell-out for 2015 already...

Posted on 29/04/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

Proof that we weren't over-stating in our brochure when we said that Andrew Graham-Dixon was "hugely popular" arrived this morning with a phone call from our Box Office to say we have very nearly SOLD OUT only 2 days after tickets went on general sale!

Could it be because Andrew has been described as "the most gifted art critic of his generation", or his broadcasting achievements, or his many female fans in King's Lynn... I'm not sure, but after watching his BBC series Italy Unpacked with chef Giorgio Locatelli, I'm glad he is coming back to the Festival and I'm looking forward to his talk on the Art of the Low Countries.

First blog post from Festival Intern

Posted on 08/04/15 by Dan Brown, Communications & Events Intern

Since starting my placement at King’s Lynn Festival on the 9th March 2015 as a ‘Communications & Events Intern’ I’ve been tasked with a variety of duties, from updating databases, updating websites, proof-reading material, sorting and franking mail, editing ticket/poster imagery and info, as well as handing out our members leaflets to various companies and buildings around King’s Lynn town. The inevitable solving office equipment issues through phone calls or manuals has also occurred. I’ve also been given a tour of the various venue locations in use at the festival, as I am fairly new to the town of King’s Lynn.

It’s been an interesting first 4 weeks on the job, getting to know the office processes and learning where things are. I can say that I’ve set up an internet Franking Machine, something I have never done (or used) before. The festival events are becoming ingrained into my head, as the amount of proofreading and website updating has exposed me to all the details of the acts involved. From being here I have learned of the historic weight this festival carries, with certain festival members or locals seeing the festival develop over many years. As it states on the website, this will be the 65th festival! I’ve also learned of the high culture calibre of events in this festival, with classical artists and educational/academic talks on offer. This style of act has also been a tradition of the festival.

April time onwards should prove to be busy as tickets go on sale, it shall be interesting to see what acts sell faster than others. I believe new tasks and jobs will occur for me as time gets closer to the actual events in July, which should also be a busy period indeed. For now I say roll on the next 4 weeks (and roll on the good weather)…

A milestone - the 65th Festival brochure is finished!

Posted on 13/03/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

I'm delighted that I have recently completed my first 12 months in post! This week has also seen us complete the main Festival brochure - to be printed in full colour for the first time in the Festival's history - and our intern, Dan Brown has started.  Friends and Patrons are signing up for the 2015 season, and local businesses have been generous in giving us members discounts to improve our membership offer this year.  The team are very busy as there are only 120 days before our opening concert, Viva Vivaldi!, featuring the European Union Chamber Orchestra and the King's Lynn Festival Chorus, with two award-winning sopranos Keri Fuge and Sarah-Jane Lewis. The brochure will be out soon - but meanwhile look out for our colourful diary leaflet in venues around town, or download a complete programme here.

 

Samuel Lane (1780 - 1859) Portraits Exhibition

Posted on 17/12/14 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

I recently received a rather unusual request - and another chance to dive into our archives.  Malcolm Dunkeld, Lecturer and Researcher at South Bank University is looking for a copy of the catalogue for the Centenary Exhibition of portrait artist Samuel Lane held at the 1959 King's Lynn Festival.  It was apparently the only exhibition of Lane's work ever held in his home town.

 Although I couldn't find a copy of the catalogue for Malcolm, our 1959 festival programme says of Lane's portraits "all are 'speaking likenesses' and take our minds forcefully back to the days when Parliament had yet to be reformed, slaves to be emancipated, the French and the Americans to be driven off the seas and the poor to be provided with schools."

I found some of Lane's works in the National Portrait Gallery archives and thought about what life was like for Lane, who although deafened and speech impaired from a childhood accident, achieved considerable success as an artist in his own lifetime, and whose paintings now fetch six-figures at auction.  If anyone knows where Malcom might find a copy of the 1959 exhibition catalogue, then please get in touch!

 

In conversation with Festival Board Member Sue Burge

Posted on 12/11/14 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

I have been getting to know some of our Directors a little better, in preparation for updating our About Us page.  Poet and Tutor Sue Burge was kind enough to answer some of my slightly off-the-wall questions...

 

Q: “Sue, how did you first become involved in the Festival?”
A:  “I've been coming to Festival events since around 1987 when I married a Linnet and heard about the Festival.”

Q: “What do you most like about King’s Lynn and West Norfolk?”
A: “It's a very friendly town and the buildings are incredible.  I went on as many of Paul Richards' walks as I could whenever I came to King's Lynn and he really opened my eyes to the history of the town and made we want to be a guide myself so I could pass on this enthusiasm.  I love how accessible the Norfolk coast is from King's Lynn and, as I don't drive, having great rail access to London, Cambridge and Ely is a fantastic bonus.”

Q: “So what’s your favourite Norfolk Day Out, Sue?”
A: “My favourite Norfolk day out would be to jump on the Coasthopper bus for a coastal walk - maybe Burnham Overy Staithe to Wells.  Then a lunch of chips and mushy peas, a look at all the great bookshops and small independent shops in Wells and perhaps a half-pint on the Albatross before catching the last Coasthopper home.”

Q: “What about your favourite Norfolk Night Out?”
A: “That would be going to one of the King's Lynn Community Cinema Club's great film nights.  It's like having an art house cinema in King's Lynn, but much cheaper and with a very eclectic choice of films and in a superb heritage venue, St George's Guildhall in King Street.”

Q: “I know you are a classical music lover, but can you recall what first got you hooked?”
A: “Well, Kate, all my early memories of classical music are from ballet, which I loved.  Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake was probably the first piece I noticed.”

Q: “So who would you say was your favourite composer?”
A: “I am very drawn to the Russian composers, particularly Rachmaninov, perhaps because one of my favourite films is Brief Encounter.  I also love Wagner's music, particularly the Ring Cycle, those amazingly primeval opening chords of Das Rheingold always move me however many times I hear them.”

Q: “One last question Sue – what is your favourite musical instrument and why?”
A: “That’s almost impossible to answer, Kate, as it changes with my mood!  I would have to say I love the deep, emotional resonance of the cello.”

Who would you like to hear from next?  Let me know on Twitter @KLFestival

 

Do You Remember 1974?

Posted on 01/10/14 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer

We are having new IT equipment soon, as our old PCs are whirring and groaning and sometimes refusing to work at all!  Wednesday was one of those days so I landed up shutting down the computer and found myself wondering how offices functioned at all before we became slaves to IT systems.  So after several phone calls, tidying up the office and having a cuppa, I opened the archive where the old programmes are kept.  Choosing the 1974 programme almost randomly (the programme cover matched my skirt!) I found these absolute gems... Hope you enjoy them.  If you do, please help me choose another year: Tweet to  @KLFestival

 

Advertisers included a "coiffeur for ladies and their daughters", and some cars you might remember.

But some things don't change...
The varied programme included Chopin on one page, George Melly on the other, plus a few faces I recognised including Joyce Grenfell.

 

 

 

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