Cuckfield Music Festival hits the high notes

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By Hannah Carter and David Mortimer

All good things come to an end, but what a fantastic week we had with the first ever Cuckfield Music Festival!

In just over a week we ran ten concerts and celebrated performances from international musicians (who were mostly Sussex based!).

From a lively opening concert featuring the Horsham Symphony Orchestra and Ensemble Reza to the closing event with the exquisite singing of the Magnificat Choir from Hungary and our very own Cuckoo Choir, this was a Festival for everyone.

Jazz lovers had two wonderful evenings of music. The popular seven-piece show band, the Speak Easy Revival Orchestra, kept the audience on the edge of their seats with their fun antics (including balloon modelling and drainpipe playing accompanied by some amazing jazz melodies), whilst the Mark Edwards Trio set the scene for a more chilled evening of standard classics delivered with superb musicianship.

Holy Trinity Church was an excellent venue for several concerts, possessing not only superb acoustics but also a brilliant grand piano. With her virtuoso performance Caroline Tyler made the fullest use of its range in her lunchtime recital, whilst Dominic Ferris had a packed audience on its feet with his spellbinding show of pop classics, film music and classical favourites. Local guest stars Jane Haughton and Michael Maine also came on to join Dominic in some entertaining vocal comedy.

Other highlights included The Rising Stars! concert featuring ten immensely talented young musicians from local schools, the popular vocal group No Strings Attached and a fascinating talk on music in painting by saxophonist Dr Matt Wates. And then there was the evening of Greek folk music from Plastikes Karekles (sadly, rain prevented this from being outdoors – but the audience still enjoyed their picnics and bubbly in the Church). The scenes of half the audience enthusiastically dancing round the nave somehow summed up the cheerful atmosphere of the whole Festival.