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What to see at this year's Newbury Spring Festival

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

Hot tickets

Ballet Central

The festival opens at St Nicolas’ Church with a newly-commissioned work played by the renowned Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of Edward Gardner (below), recognised as one of the most talented conductors of his generation. Bringing the fortnight of musical excellence to a close, on the third Saturday, an all-Mozart finale, with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, featuring Newbury’s very own, home-grown Spring Festival Chorus, themselves celebrating their 20th anniversary.

Orchestral Concerts

The orchestral concerts always open and close the festival at St Nicolas’ Church. On May 12, the exciting young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason will play the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner.
The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and soloists close the festival with the great Mass in C minor by Mozart, which will also feature the Newbury Festival Chorus.
There is also a concert in the middle of the festival which sees the return of the great pianist John Lill, who will play Beethoven Piano Concerto No 1 with festival first-timers Flanders Symphony Orchestra.

Bernstein Revealed

To mark the forthcoming centenary of the birth of the American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (pictured below), musical director Jason Carr and West End star Sophie-Louise Dann come to Combe Manor to celebrate the musical superman with an evening exploring his life and times.
Bernstein was as happy working on the Broadway stage as he was the great concert halls of the world. The evening will be compèred by broadcaster Edward Seckerson, who conducted one of the last major interviews with Bernstein before his death.
It will feature songs from West Side Story, Candide and On The Town.

Piccadilly Dance Orchestra

An evening of glitz and glamour will have you dancing in the aisles when the Piccadilly Dance Orchestra (below) open the Corn Exchange programme on May 12.
Celebrating its 30th year, this leading jazz orchestra presents its Anniversary Gala Concert, transporting you back to the Charleston of the 1920s and the classic songs of the 30s. You will be able to hear timeless classics by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin among others.

Choral Music

There is nothing like choral music to heighten the senses and there is a feast of it at the festival this year. In addition to Sansara at St Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, Ex Cathedra (below) will be returning with a special 40-part programme of music from both Elizabethan Ages at Douai Abbey.
One of the greatest masterpieces of all time, the Bach Mass in B minor will be performed at Holy Cross Church in Ramsbury by baroque collective Solomon’s Knot, who perform the work from memory without a conductor. On the final night in St Nicolas’ Church you can hear the Mozart Mass in C minor, one of the composer’s greatest works.

Come and Sing

Everybody, young and old, is welcome to sing Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore on Sunday, May 20. In the first half, from the comfort of your seat, you will rehearse well-known songs, before being joined by costumed soloists for a performance in the second half. Anything can happen… and often does.

Concerts for children and families

There are concerts for children of all ages. The very young always enjoy Sound Beginnings where, in a relaxed environment lasting
just under an hour, they are introduced to the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, arranged for two pianos and engagingly narrated by Richard Morris. Older children might enjoy Travelling by Tuba, where they can enjoy a voyage through the weird and wonderful world of this fascinating instrument. The cabaret act Graffiti Classics is popular for all ages with their hilarious all-singing, all-dancing show.

Joe Stilgoe

Joe Stilgoe returns to Newbury with a show devoted to one of his greatest heroes – Gene Kelly.
He celebrates the output of the man who revolutionised not only dance on screen, but also screen musicals. Joe will perform popular songs from musicals such as Singin’ in The Rain and An American in Paris.


Kabantu are a group from Mancester who put together different sounds from around the world in a creative and imaginary way. Rewriting the rule book, they might take vocal harmonies from South Africa and mix them with Celtic reels and Brazilian samba and yet still create an exuberant and joyful sound.

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