Have you ever wondered how Esther Rantzen got involved with the Samaritans for kids charity, Childline – or even ‘Celebrity Come Dancing’, for that matter?
You can hear the whole story direct from the lady herself in ‘An Audience with Esther Rantzen’ on Monday 20 June at Grassington Town Hall.
Esther is just one of a host of star acts booked for this year’s Grassington Festival – this year celebrating 25 years of bringing top quality music, drama and entertainment to the Dales.
The Festival opens on Friday 17 June with a touring version of the hit West End show ‘Salute to the Rat Pack’ starring new Emmerdale heart-throb Richard Shelton as Frank Sinatra and Alex Giannini as Dean Martin – both of whom perform regularly in the West End. The show is one of more than a dozen virtual sellouts during the festival – but there is a chance of returns so it’s worth contacting the Box Office to check.
There are still tickets available for plenty of other events. For classical music lovers – or even those who wouldn’t normally go to a classical concert but fancy giving it go – there’s the fantastic Aquarelle Guitar Quartet, playing in the delightful setting of St Margaret Clitherow’s church in Threshfield at 3pm on Saturday 18 June. All graduates of the Royal Northern College of Music, they were the first guitar quartet to be awarded the Diploma in Professional Performance – the college’s highest performance award.
The St Petersburg String Quartet have also picked up a host of international prizes in their career – including 1st prize in the International Shostakovich competition. So it’s not surprising that composer features in their delightful programme on Tuesday 21 June.
Two completely different performances are being offered by Mediva (on Wednesday 22 June) and Vox Animae, playing at Scargill House on Sunday 26 June. Both turn to medieval times for their inspiration – Mediva have delighted London audiences with their lively music from 15th Century Spain; while Vox Animae, along with acclaimed soprano Evelyn Tubb, perform the earliest surviving musical drama from the 12th century, Ordo Virtutum by the 12th Century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. “I had to have this back again, “ says the Festival’s artistic director Bunty Leder. “It was so magical.”
Jazz lovers have a treat in store on Friday 24 June, with Alan Barnes on sax and Dave Newton on piano and his eight piece line up playing old standards by the likes of Miles Davies, Mingus and Coltrane. But if you’re more into folk music don’t give the Poozies a miss on Sunday 26 June. This all-female Scottish band delights with their irrepressible, imaginative treatment of traditional and contemporary folk music from around the world.
And if you missed out on tickets for the evening performance of the Reduced Shakespeare Company on Saturday 25 June don’t forget there’s a matinee on Sunday 26 June as well. This company’s hilarious rendition of Shakespeare’s 37 plays in 97 minutes is a must see – just imagine a rap version of Othello or Titus Andronicus as a cooking programme!
Among the more unusual attractions this year is a chance to attend a workshop/masterclass with the Swingle Singers at 4.30pm on Thursday 30th June. Join in or just observe – it’s a great opportunity to find out just how their unique singing style is achieved. There’s also an extra dry stone walling day on Saturday 25 June – due to popular demand! Or, for international cinema buffs, there’s the charming Mongolian film, ‘The Story of the Weeping Camel’ on Sunday 19 June at 4pm. “I was totally captivated – it’s just gorgeous,” says Bunty Leder.
As in previous years, there will be music in Grassington’s main square each Saturday of the Festival, both morning and afternoon, weather permitting. Giggleswick School Band, North Stars Steel Orchestra, Bradford Grammar School, Sedbergh School CCF Band & Corps of Drums, Harrogate Youth Jazz Orchestra and Tewitt Youth Brass Band are all set to entertain shoppers and visitors.
For tickets to any of the above performances, call the Box Office on 01756 752691 or check out the web site at www.grassington-festival.org.uk. Tickets will also be available on the door for some performances but it’s worth checking in advance to avoid disappointment.