Saturday, 31 July 2021

The young performers

A GIG night launched this year’s Henley Youth Festival.

A GIG night launched this year’s Henley Youth Festival.

About 150 teenagers attended Friday’s event at Henley Youth Centre, which featured nine acts performing a range of music from acoustic folk to heavy rock.

The performers included 17-year-old singer-songwriter Matthew Maltese, from Sonning Eye, who appeared at last year’s Henley Festival.

The others were Teddy Chilton, The Ribs, Monarchs, Emma and Fran, 2D Glasses, Introspect, HDC and headliners Freddie and the Freeloaders.

Oli Baldwin, a music technology student at The Henley College who organised the event, ran the mixing desk.

Oli, 19, said: “Everyone really enjoyed it. The acts brought lots of family and friends which was nice as you don’t always get that much support at these sorts of events.

“The were all getting to know each other and having a laugh. It’s important that young musicians get together and interact as they can learn a lot from each other.”

Performing arts co-ordinator Lucie Henwood said: “It was a great night — lots of bands, an enthusiastic audience and a really good vibe.”

A professional drum kit was provided by DrumWright and a sound system by Soundsalive.

The following day, classical musicians due to take part in the festival Proms this week attended a masterclass with concert pianist Anita D’Attellis and conductor and examiner Chris Walker.

As well as practising their solos, the youngsters prepared a performance of Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 (Land of Hope & Glory) to be played at the end of the Proms.

Mr Walker said: “We are very lucky in Henley to have such a thriving festival that gives so many different opportunities to youngsters. Long may it continue!”

About 100 primary age musicians took part in the festival’s first Junior Proms, held at Bix Manor on Sunday.

The children played individually and in groups on the piano, violin, bassoon, recorder, drums, p-bone and harp, watched by their families and friends.

Singers performed classical pieces and songs from musicals. Alfie Hay, who co-founded the festival, was compere for the four sessions and Fiona Hedges, a cellist and music teacher from Oxford, and Elinor Carter, a professional mezzo-soprano and singing teacher from Wallingford, watched each performance and gave the children feedback.

The event is a non- competitive version of the MusicMakers competition which has been held in previous years.

Co-organiser Kate Swinburne-Johnson said: “Junior Proms is a great opportunity to perform in a relaxed environment. It’s about enjoying your music and building your confidence. Bix Manor is a great new venue for us — probably the first youth festival venue with a warm open fire and sofas!”

Fifteen students took part in a two-day sculpture workshop at the youth centre with professional artist Peter Rush, who displayed a 9ft praying mantis at last year’s festival. They created pieces from wire, plastic and paper, some of which will be exhibited at the festival’s art exhibition, which opens today (Friday).

A bellboating workshop due to take place on Saturday was postponed because the river was too high. It will now take place on May 5 from 1pm to 5pm. The Back to 1993 Beanie Babies session, also planned to take place on Saturday, was cancelled because the organiser was ill.

The festival continues this week with schools workshops, open workshops including ukulele, taekwondo and fencing, performing arts events and HEDFAS-sponsored arts events.

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