Gifted musicians bound for Aylsham

GIFTED musicians from all over Norfolk and the rest of the country are set to perform in Aylsham during 2009 as the town's music society prepares to launch its fourth season of lunchtime concerts next week.

GIFTED musicians from all over Norfolk and the rest of the country are set to perform in Aylsham during 2009 as the town's music society prepares to launch its fourth season of lunchtime concerts next week.

This year's programme of classical, old and new jazz, swing and world music includes prestigious national names, including pianist Tim Barratt, and promising young talent, such as Aylsham flautist Rachel Coghlan .

All performances take place in St Michael's Parish Church and in September Aylsham Music Society will stage a new venture with an evening of fiery dance among the pews to the strains of Tango Siempre.

Canon Michael Butler, one of the society's founders, said audience numbers had increased by 33pc since the launch of the concerts, with about 90 people at each event and more than 100 on special occasions.

In recent years St Michael's had been equipped with a toilet, catering facilities, was fully making it a welcoming and popular concert venue.

Regulars travelled from as far afield as Norwich, Stalham and all over north Norfolk for events and the lunchtime concerts, with a light lunch available beforehand, also attracted many holidaymakers.

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'The concerts have been called 'one of the joys of Aylsham'' said the Rev Butler. The society grew out of a musical event in the church celebrating the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005. Admiral Lord Nelson had once danced at Aylsham's former Assembly Rooms on Market Place.

The evening had been such a success that music fans in the area decided to try and revive lunchtime concerts which had once been held during the summer months in the town hall. The society was launched with help from a grant given by the town's Cittaslow organisation.

Programme planners liaised with other music organisations and venues in Norwich to find potential performers, many of whom were local, and insisted on a professional standard, said Mr Butler.

Aylsham's concerts were an especially good opportunity for newly-qualified musicians to venture into public performance.

He is also hoping to organise a return visit to the town, for a summer garden party, by early music specialists Minstrels Gallery.

The society, a registered charity, also aims to benefit the local community and last year it raised money for Cawston Church and Bure Valley School, Aylsham.

The season was due to launch next Thursday, January 15, with a string trio but injury forced them to cancel at short notice. Instead, clarinettist Andrew McCullough and pianist David Dunnett, Norwich Cathedral's organist, have stepped in to fill the bill.

* All concerts are held in the church from 1pm to 2pm, unless otherwise indicated. Entrance is �6, children free, with refreshments available for �4 from 12.15pm.

The remaining programme is: February 19 ,Suzie Walker, Jason Koczur, horns, David Morgan, piano, playing Bach, Mozart, Franz Strauss, Nielsen, Bozza; March 19 Felicity Devonshire, mezzo contralto, Anna Hopkins, flute, David Morgan, harpsichord, Telemann, Handel, Falconieri, Arne; April 16, Tim Barratt, piano, Haydn, Chopin, Grainger; May 16 (7.30pm), Tom Harris Trio, piano, double bass, drums, old and new jazz inspired by Count Basie, Tommy Flanagan, Keith Jarrett etc; May 21, Andres Hernandez Salasaar, tenor, David Neil-Jones, piano, Mozart, Schubert, Falla, Verdi; June 18, Jeanine Thorpe, violin, Alex Demetriou, piano, Beethoven, Brahms; July 16, Harry Macey, David Darby, piano, Mozart, Schubert, Grieg, Poulenc, Ganz; August 20, Rachel Coghlan, flute, Elaine Smith, piano, Bach, Prokofiev, Moquet; September 5 (7.30pm), Tango Siempre, tango and world music for violin and accordion; September 17, Beatrice Nicholas, piano, Haydn, Brahms, Chopin, Bartok; October 15, Anna Hopkins, flute, Adrian Knott, oboe, John Mason, bassoon, Susanne Vanderbergh, harpsichord, Bach, Telemann, Vivaldi; November 19, John Coulton, trumpet, David Dunnett, piano and organ, Bach, Purcell, Glen Miller.