Belper Festival launched with sellout concert

The sixth Belper Arts Festival exploded into life over the Bank Holiday weekend with a stunning sellout concert, an expanded Arts Trail and the first Andy Potter Community Awards.

The Festival opened with a sellout concert at St. Peter’s Church featuring soprano Margaret Keys and her guests Bel Canto Male Chorus and the Fishpond Choir conducted by Dana De Waal.

The combination brought an eclectic mix of music to Margaret arrived in Belper between dates in Ireland and Jersey with Russell Watson and prior to the launch of her album ‘The Gift Of Music’. The Belper audience was treated to a sneak preview.

The Fishpond Choir, conducted by Dana de Waal, performed music from the Caribbean, Israel, and South Africa. Bel Canto included songs by Lindisfarne and Andy Williams before performing a highly entertaining sea shanty, South Australia.

Margaret Keys closed the evening with ‘Danny Boy’ before receiving a standing ovation for her performance of ‘Bring Him Home’.

Both choirs joined Margaret Keys on stage for Dana De Waal’s arrangement of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

The evening saw the presentation of the first two Andy Potter Community Arts Awards. George Gunby, the concert promoter presented them to Amanda Penman for her commitment to the arts through Artsbeat magazine and Captive Audience Community Theatre for their work with young people in Belper.

“Andy Potter was a champion of community arts and an inspiration to many individuals and groups. It is appropriate that we give the awards in his name,” said Mr Gunby.

The glorious weather brought a record number of visitors to the Belper Arts Trail. With over 130 artists in 50 venues and 70 musical performers on 10 stages the event had a family appeal, especially with the arrival of the children’s favourite pirate, Captain Dan and his motley crew. New to the Trail was a demonstration marquee on the Market Place and the introduction of the Strutts Centre as a venue.

Co-organiser of the Trail Suzanne Parnell said: “It’s been a terrific Trail. The artists are certainly happy with the number of visitors. We tried to have something for everybody and I think we have pulled it off.”

An exclusive first was live streaming of interviews online by Artsword. The interviews were fronted by Fliss Goldsmith who said: “It was great to be able to talk artists and show people live what was going on.”

Belper Arts Festival runs until June 3. For event information go to