Culture fest is underway in Belper

It would be hard to pack any more into the month-long Belper Arts Festival which continues to grow and prides itself on involving the whole community – inclusive rather than exclusive is what they claim to be.

The culture fest, book-ended between the two May bank holidays, has the now annual Arts Trail at the start and Belper Open Houses at the end.

In between there is a blend of music, dance, photography, film, literature, theatre, comedy, performance, talks and workshops.

What is amazing about the festival is that more than a third of it is devoted to a music programme which includes folk, jazz, a charity concert, prize-winning choirs, performers from Britain’s Got Talent and even a workshop for recorder players.

Celebrate Belper: The Concert features a specially commissioned piece entitled The Belper Suite. Classical composer James Oldrini has drawn on his Belper roots to write an exciting, experimental piece that features a string quartet and actress Sheila Kay Sly.

The concert can be seen at St Peter’s Church on May 7. James is also releasing his debut album Enlightenment this month.

Dave Sturt, of Gong, who now lives in Belper and Alex Wilson will be bringing an evening of jazz and other music to No 28 in the Market Place on May 8. Alongside them will be special guests Lily Sturt-Bolshaw, of Sunflower Thieves (she is also Dave’s daughter) and George Melton.

If you prefer folk music then Belper singer songwriter Sue MacFarlane and Friends at St Peter’s Church on May 11 is an evening not to be missed.

Dana de Waal, the popular and powerful South African singer, who now lives in Derby, will be performing a selection of romantic songs accompanied by the pianist Beate Toyka at St Peter’s Church on May 12. Beate will be returning to the church on May 16 for a family friendly concert – Pizza and Piano with Beate. It starts at 6pm and pizza orders will be taken at the start so they can be eaten during the interval.

Last year the Kanneh Mason Family from Nottingham were the talk of Britain’s Got Talent and this year Belper is lucky enough to have booked them for a performance in the church on May 20 when they will play well-known classical and popular music.

One of the highlight events of the festival will be the visit by DaleDiva – the award-winning four-part harmony choir who always wow audiences with their slick choreography, glitz and glamour.

Making sure the chaps get a look in is the Eastwood Collieries’ Male Voice Choir which was formed in 1919 and is now one of only a handful of original colliery male voice choirs surviving in the country. They will be at St Peter’s on May 28.

There are many other events at the festival and a brochure is available.

n Go to for more details. Read about Belper Players on page 17.