A major new series of concerts offers a mini-festival within this year’s Festival of Chichester.
Based at St Pancras Church, the Amici Concerts have been put together by Meg Hamilton and Amanda Cook, two musicians with strong Chichester/Bognor Regis area connections.
The series offers five concerts on successive days at St Pancras Church, starting on Tuesday, June 30 and concluding with a Sunday-afternoon picnic-concert on the sixth day at Halnaker Park Cottage (July 5).
Meg, who features with her own group Kosmos as part of the week, is delighted at the programme that has come together.
“The inspiration for the series was the new Festival of Chichester,” Meg said. “I met up with Amanda. We are both originally from down here. We have both been giving concerts in the area all our lives, and we were both keen to bring great music down to Chichester.
“For the first Festival of Chichester, we felt inspired to bring some friends and musicians to the festival, and then we piloted our idea last year of the St John’s concert series at St John’s chapel. It was great.
“Everyone seemed to like it, and all the audiences were asking if we were going to do something again. The lovely thing is that the festival is free enough for us to be able to do that.
“Really we wanted to keep it local and we wanted to keep a balance between local and international musicians, with our main criterion being that it had to be top-quality performers coming here.
“We invited our most talented friends and friends of friends from our extended music circles.”
And from this the Amici Concerts idea emerged, amici meaning simply that: friends.
It’s an idea Meg is hoping will appeal to younger audiences, teenagers, students and children: “At the moment our experience of concerts is that most people going to them are retired. We are collaborating with the university to allow university students to come to our concerts for free, and under-25s will be £5 to help make them a success.
“What we are really wanting is for lots of people to come along and for everyone to enjoy the fabulous music that is on offer. We want to make a substantial contribution to the festival in a really exciting way.”
The series opens on Tuesday, June 30 at 7.30pm with internationally-acclaimed soloists Harriet Mackenzie (violin) and Morgan Szymanski (guitar) performing a sparkling and colourful programme of duets ranging from Baroque gems by Vivaldi and the sophisticated Schubert Sonata in A minor to suave tangos, passionate Spanish dances and intimate solos.
The series continues on Wednesday, July 1 at 7.30pm with Boybershop, a versatile Jewish quartet making its Chichester debut singing Ashkenazi and Sephardi melodies from their recent album in Yiddish, Hebrew and Ladino, interspersed with Jewish sacred music, classic barbershop, folk songs and unique comic songs.
Next up, on Thursday, July 2 at 7.30pm is the Shane Allessio Jazz Trio. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, double bassist-composer Shane Allessio brings world-class compositions and improvisations to the table while remaining deeply rooted in the jazz tradition.
Friday, July 3 at 7.30pm sees Meg herself in action with Kosmos ensemble (violin, viola, accordion), offering a musical journey from South America to the Middle East. Drawing on a fascinating variety of music from around the globe, the trio’s original arrangements of Jewish, Polish and Greek music glide seamlessly into hot-blooded tango, Japanese folksong and improvisation, referencing composers including Bach, Brahms and Sarasate.
The final St Pancras concert, on Saturday, July 4 at 8pm is the Eden Stell guitar duo featuring Mark Eden and Christopher Stell. The Eden Stell guitar duo have been invited to perform at venues and music festivals around the world. Their programme will include Couperin, Rameau, Piazzolla and Mompou.
Online: www.chichestertickets.co.uk. Box office: 01243 813595. In person: Cloisters Shop, Cathedral Cloisters, Chichester, PO19 1PX (open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm).
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