Petworth Festival promises a musical and theatrical treasure hunt with Bignor Park Alive!, an afternoon in the beautiful grounds, gardens and woods of Bignor Park on Sunday, July 22 (doors 12.30pm for 1pm start; ends 4pm).
Audiences of all ages will be encouraged to go in search of more than 25 different happenings taking place in glades, gazebos, follies and clearings around the park. The performing company includes Travelling Light Circus’s Playground of Illusions, Handmade Theatre’s Too Many Cooks, This Is My Theatre’s Alice in Wonderland and Nearly There Yet’s Memory Man.
Also there, performing three 15-20 minute slots at 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3pm, will be the choral forces of the Leconfield Singers making their Petworth Festival debut.
Singers chairman Jeannie Whitman Esdaile is delighted at the prospect: “The Leconfield Singers were established on the idea that we promote music in the Petworth area and other cultural endeavours. We practise and rehearse in Petworth and we perform in Petworth and Lord Egremont was kind enough to allow us to use our name which reflects Petworth.
“And now it is a great honour to be asked to perform at Bignor, and this is our first time at the Petworth Festival, which is great.
“We will be singing madrigals for the most part, which are great fun because you are singing a cappella for most of them. The English madrigals are exceptionally good musically. The English madrigals are considered the best. Madrigals are what you would call four-part, maybe five-part or six-part harmony. They were around in Europe for about 50 years before they came to England, and in England a lot of them were driven by love of Queen Elizabeth I. There is that connotation.
“But the music is polyphonic, multi-part and everybody is doing something. It is a real art. It is not just that the music is technically perfect. It is also that the words are fun. The English language is excellent for this, and they are great fun because some of them are very bawdy. There are some very naughty dual meanings in there!”
Jeannie has been chairman for just about a year now: “And we are moving forwards, I think. We are looking now two or three years down the line in terms of what we are doing, and we are doing the Royal Festival Hall again. We have got a very good and loyal core of members. If we have a turn-over, it is very much people who pull out of things over the summer because of family commitments, but they always come back to us. And it is just hysterical fun. Everybody loves to sing. We have got this shared purpose in music. When we get it right, it is good fun. When we don’t get it right, we just work harder. We never stress about not getting it right. We just try harder!”