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The ‘not to be missed’ Church Stretton Arts festival is back for another year running from July 23rd to August 13th. This annual festival brings two weeks of concerts, drama & poetry to Church Stretton as well as an Arts, Crafts and Photography Exhibition.

Over the fortnight, there are five free day-time Coffee Concerts with varied instruments and three Organ Recitals in St Laurence Church, a beautiful grade 1 listed building ,parts of which date back to the 12th century. The evening performances in the Silvester Horne Institute cater for a wide range of musical tastes.

Pictured: The Rozzers

Some popular performers are returning to the Festival in addition to a number of first time performers. There is the welcome return of Roger McGough reciting poems from his latest book, a performance which is already fully booked. Another returnee is Lucy Stevens performing her new drama Virginia Woolf: Killing the Ange, portraying the complex life of Virginia Woolf with contemporary music and song. Heartbreak Productions return with a new production of the classic play Jane Eyre, which they perform in their uniquely inventive manner. Alison Neil also returns with her new one-woman drama The Fossil Lady of Lyme, recreating the life of an extraordinary female fossil-collector in the male-dominated world of palaeontology.

First timers include Louise Thomson, an Eisteddfod-winning harpist with a new vocal ensemble Corvus Consort. The prize-winning pianist Gamal Khamis plays not only familiar pieces from Beethoven and Debussy but also ground-breaking works by contemporary composers. Also, the A4 Brass Quartet features principal players from some of the UK’s top brass bands.

Pictured: Heartbreak Productions – Jayne Eyre

Other performers include the early-music ensemble Passamezzo, recreating the music familiar to the Pilgrim Fathers, enhanced with readings and costumes from the era; the multi-national Linos Piano Trio and the Karolus ensemble of classical guitar, violin, viola and ‘cello. By way of contrast, The Rozzers will perform the hit songs of The Police and Sting. Building to the Gala Finale at Concord College on August 13th when Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Trio will be celebrating the life and music of Ella Fitzgerald.

The Festival runs in tandem with Arts, Crafts and Photography Exhibition, which is a non-competitive showcase for amateur and professional artists, craft workers and photographers living within 30 miles of Church Stretton. You will find hundreds of paintings, collage, photography and various forms of craftwork on display. Most of the work in the exhibition is for sale. This year there are also day-time workshops taking place in Botanical Macro Photography, Willow Craft and Glass-Bunting. Also on Wed 3rd August, Dr. John Chu, Senior Curator at the National Trust, will give a lecture on famous paintings held by the Trust. Tickets are available online from www.strettonfestival.org.uk or in person at the Visitor Information Centre, Church Stretton Library every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am -12noon.

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