Spring has arrived. While the weather may not always be on message, you can count on Simonsbath Festival to pop up with another stimulating mix of opera, jazz, classical and world music concerts, walks and talks, and this year an award-winning theatre production to mark two centuries since Jane Austen’s death.
The festival’s take on art has taken a new turn this year too with the Sketch Box project which invites you to sketch what you see when you light upon one of the boxes placed around St Luke’s Church – you can also pen a poem if you prefer.
While gumboots may not feature in this year’s programme, a wealth of newly discovered archive material about the Knight family, who made the Exmoor we know today, and a presentation of the revelatory photographs of James Ravilious are the subjects of two unmissable talks. And, besides the rousing musical traditions of klezmer and Latin America, the Lyra Ensemble from St Petersburg transcend the ordinary with the highest standards of musicianship and the intoxicating choral music of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Here’s to the arrival of spring on Exmoor with the Simonsbath Festival.
For the past five years the art exhibition, featuring work by local artists, has been an important part of Simonsbath Festival. This year the festival puts everyone in the frame by hosting Sketch Boxes to encourage old and young alike to draw, read or write inside.
The Sketch Boxes have been created especially for the festival out of the highly successful Exmoor Poetry Boxes which have confounded expectations by collecting more than 5,500 poems from passers-by over the last three years.
The boxes will make their first appearance at Simonsbath Festival’s May Day celebrations on Exford Village Green on Bank Holiday Monday May 1, and will then be located around Simonsbath from May 2 until June 21, maintaining a constant presence throughout the festival for people to pen as little or as much as they like. Read more about the Sketch Boxes here.
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The festival continues to prioritise its work with local schools. The project ‘Songs from the Exmoor Forest’ to revive interest in and knowledge of the traditional music and songs of Exmoor and Wren musician Paul Wilson this year held a series of workshops in local schools to teach the folk music, songs and traditions collected on Exmoor from the early 20th century to the 1980s. The workshops culminated in a Midsummer family and community concert.
As part of the project we have also collated an online song book featuring music and songs collected on Exmoor, which can be found here on the festival website.
If you would like to become a Friend of Simonsbath Festival for just £15 a year and enjoy ticket discounts and priority booking while also supporting the festival, please contact Polly Soltau.