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Whittington Music Festival a hit with all ages

Whittington Music Festival is off to a flying start with concerts in the parish church and a concert for local children learning to play instruments, thanks to a local charity.

Sophia Rahman with Idris and Zoe
Sophia Rahman with Idris and Zoe

The festival, which runs until Sunday has brought together classical musicians with established international reputations, many who have visited the event before.

The musicians arrived in North Shropshire at the beginning of the week to practice for seven concerts in four days – a treat for Shropshire music lovers.

As well as the concerts at Whittington, seven festival players visited Whittington C of E Primary School to play for over 100 pupils from local primary schools, all learning string instruments through local charity MusicMOB (Music Matters in Oswestry and the Borderlands).

The festival's musical director Sophia Rahman introduced the instruments and talked about the joy of playing and taking part in music groups, including singing. The story of ‘Ferdinand the Bull’ was a huge hit.

Teacher Ben Griffiths of Gobowen Primary School said, “The children and adults alike were spellbound by the phenomenal talents of all the musicians."

In the afternoon it was the turn of Oswestry Borders U3A for a visit.

A festival spokesman said, “We are delighted to see the start of this festival in our tenth anniversary year. A great deal of planning goes into an event like this, preparing the programme, arranging the artists and planning the funding, so it’s very special to sit and listen to the musicians on stage in Whittington Church.

“This year’s festival programme is built around the concept of transcending borders – so appropriate for our borderland community. It features several innovations, including jazz played today by Zoe and Idris Rahman on piano and clarinet respectively, and lesser known but compelling works for voice or viola and piano by the British-American composer Rebecca Clarke. The highlight of the evening was the jazz and classical musicians combining for an electrifying performance of Piazzola’s Oblivion.

“Future concerts will include a mix of pieces from the regular classical repertoire but also a special family concert with young participants in Saturday's masterclass on stage. Another first for the festival will be the inclusion of two song cycles sung by the noted tenor Mark Padmore, something we are really excited about.”

The festival continues with ‘taster’ and evening concerts on Friday, an afternoon family concert and another full evening concert on Saturday, and a full-length concert on Sunday afternoon. Details on whittingtonmusicfestival.org.uk

Tickets are available from Oswestry Ticket Office at Rowanthorn. Old Chapel Court, or at the door.

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