Ribble Valley festival goes out on a high note

Ribchester Festival directors, from left to right, Tim Rainford, Mark Jones, Jim Tyrrell, Carole Milne, Marc Mallam and the Rev. Gill Henwood, with the two lady Mayoresses of the Ribble Valley. (s)
Ribchester Festival directors, from left to right, Tim Rainford, Mark Jones, Jim Tyrrell, Carole Milne, Marc Mallam and the Rev. Gill Henwood, with the two lady Mayoresses of the Ribble Valley. (s)

With more concerts, more venues, and more than a thousand people in attendance, the final Ribchester Festival of Music and Art went out on a high note.

With 16 events across eight different locations in Ribchester village, audiences enjoyed a variety of music and theatre which included classical concerts, jazz, folk, swing, opera, blues, and street theatre.

Tim Rainford, chairman of the festival, said: “It’s impossible to pick a highlight, there were so many enjoyable performances, and there were so many styles of music, that I’m sure everyone will have their own pick for best of show”.

Classical music lovers will have enjoyed the return of the amazing Lithuanian pianist Ugnius Pauliukonis, who had a rapturous welcome by the St Wilfrid’s faithful after his show stopping performance last year, and he didn’t let them down this year either. His performances of pieces by Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Schubert, enchanted the audience, who gave him a standing ovation.

In the series of late night concerts, the festival’s headline act, the amazingly professional Swing Commanders, played to a delighted packed house, Kyla Brox and her husband Danny Blomely led a blues night which was simply outstanding, and arguably the fusion folk of Project Jam Sandwich was the highlight of the whole festival.

Festival director Marc Mallam said of Project Jam Sandwich: “This is what music is all about. Five creative young people, playing their own interpretations of folk music from all over the world in one of the most exciting, original, and inventive performances ever seen at the Ribchester Music Festival. Their enthusiasm and energy was so infectious, the audience absolutely lapped it up! Project Jam Sandwich really nailed it! These young students will make it to the top, and you saw them first in Ribchester!”

The introduction of new venues was a success, with sell out events at The Glass House and Potters Barn, two of the most delightful and intimate of venues in which to taste good food and listen to good music. The sound of Fiona Robert’s harp and James Hutton’s baritone voice wafting through the early evening garden at Potters Barn, and with the sun beaming down on a late Saturday afternoon in The Glass House, festival goers enjoyed two of the most pleasant events in the festival.

And after a week full of enjoyment, festival Sunday saw the end of one of the best Ribchester Festivals for some time. The event finished with a beautiful church service at St Wilfrid’s, with lovely words provided by the Rev. Canon Dr Susan Penfold, and lovely music provided by the choir Ocatvius. Festival goers then enjoyed a barbecue at Stydd Gardens which went on late into the afternoon with the Julie Edwards Jazz Quintet and Mike Kneafsey keeping the audience entertained.

Marc Mallam said: “We hope people have enjoyed this music festival, listening to good music, enjoying nice food and drink, and spending quality time with friends and family. In the best village in the world!”

Festival directors had previously announced that due to financial uncertainty this was to be the last festival.

Tim Rainford commented: “The directors of the festival can be proud of their achievements, not only in this festival, but in the previous 22 as well. Creating and running an event which has brought the best musicians in the world to our small village is incredible. To have had the pleasure of listening to Dame Evelyn Glennie, Humphrey Lyttleton, Tasmin Little, Pascal Roge, Julian Lloyd Webber, and countless others in our small church by the river is something that will live with us all for ever.”

Ribchester Festival directors, from left to right, Tim Rainford, Mark Jones, Jim Tyrrell, Carole Milne, Marc Mallam and the Rev. Gill Henwood, with the two lady Mayoresses of the Ribble Valley. (s)