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Arts & Entertainment

Rock fans prepare for a summer of music in Marlborough and Pewsey

AugustinesAugustinesRock fans are being blessed with an eclectic array of music events this summer – and they don’t have to travel miles (or sleep in a tent) to enjoy it.

This Friday (June 10) American indie rock trio Augustines will be playing a live gig at Thirty8 (formerly Azuza) in support of the launch of their new album This Is Your Life, which is released the very same day.

The record will be available to buy at neighbouring Sound Knowledge, and band members will be signing copies and meeting fans after the free gig, which starts at 6.30pm.

Mantonfest (Saturday, June 25) boasts headliners Animals and Friends and Dr Feelgood on its classic rock line-up, with Mantonfest favourites The Ukey D’Ukes, Straight Six, Empty Gestures, Skedaddle, Onyx, The Banned, and Barrelhouse in support, alongside newcomers Smiley’s People, The Harry Miller Band and The Clive Collective.

Tickets cost £15 for adults and £5 for children, from

The CorrespondentsThe CorrespondentsCharity fundraiser Avebury Rocks will be celebrating its return to its spiritual home, inside the famous ancient monument, on Saturday, July 9 with music from George Wilding, Jack Moore, Ulysses, The Ukey D'Ukes, Nick Harper, and electro swing duo The Correspondents, recommended as a must-see Glastonbury act by The Telegraph two years in a row.

Tickets are £15 for adults and £8 for children, and are available from

And on Saturday, August 6 self-styled Rock & Roll's Greatest Failure, John Otway, headlines Pewsey Music Festival.

Anyone who enjoyed Animals and Friends performing House of the Rising Sun at Mantonfest will either love or hate Otway’s call and response version, depending on how much reverence they hold the original in.

Otway encourages the audience to prompt each line of the rock classic: “There is..” “WHAT?” “a house…” “WHERE” “in New Orleans” “WHAT’S IT CALLED?” If that makes no sense, head over to YouTube for a video:

Otway will be performing alongside Tankus The Henge, The Doors of Perception, Sonic Meds, The Apes of Rock, Pewsey Male Voice Choir, and K V Brass at the Cooper’s Arms.

Tickets cost £7.50 if purchased by the end of June, and £10 thereafter. Tickets on the gate are £15. Bookings and details are at

  • Marlborough News Online is a sponsor of Mantonfest. A full feature can be found here

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Aldbourne Band achieve two Top Placings at the French Open Championships

Aldbourne Band in Amboise ready to playAldbourne Band in Amboise ready to playAt the 2016 French Open Championships held in the pretty historic town of Amboise, on the banks of the Loire, Aldbourne Band, under the musical direction of David Johnson, were delighted to achieve two top placings in this year’s contest.  They came second out of all the bands in the march contest playing Underhill House, in memory of Cyril Barrett, a much valued long standing Band member who supported the Band for 80 years.

They also came 2nd in the Championship section of the contest with a performance of the challenging test piece “Da Vinci” which had been commissioned for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci arriving in Amboise.  The Swiss composer Ludovic Neurohyr was also one of the adjudicating panel.

Immediately after their test piece performance the band had to play a concert in the bandstand beneath the walls of the beautiful Château d'Amboise.   A large crowd heard a programme that opened with the fanfare” Heroes Return” followed by a xylophone solo “The Joyful Skeleton” played with the soloist James Stammers wearing a skeleton suit!   The overture “Fusion”, an arrangement of Beatles music by David Johnson, the elegiac “Peace Perfect Peace” and Dave Brubeck’s jazz work “Blue Rondo a la Turk” delighted the audience, many of whom were unfamiliar with British Brass Bands.

The annual Pond Concert season starts for the band on 12 Sunday June at 7.15pm in The Square in Aldbourne.  They will be joined by the Aldbourne Youth Band and the French Open trophies will be on display.  The concert is free so bring a chair and come and enjoy the music of the award winning Aldbourne Band.

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Warren Mailley-Smith's 'Evening with Chopin': a real highlight ends the fourth series of St Peter's Church recitals

Warren Mailley-SmithWarren Mailley-SmithIt is quite a haul to get to the London concert venue St John's, Smith Square from Marlborough.  So how very fortunate Marlborough music lovers are to have a key recital - pianist Warren Mailley-Smith playing Chopin - in their midst, at St Peter's Church just two days after the audience in St John's Smith Square heard it as part of his Complete Chopin Cycle.

Warren Mailley-Smith studied at the Royal College of Music - winning many postgraduate prizes.  He has had over thirty invitations to play for the Royal Family and has performed Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

When he comes to Marlborough on June 19, Warren Mailley-Smith will be one recital away from the end of his Chopin marathon at St John's Smith Square - playing all 230 of Frederic Chopin's piano compositions.

Marlborough.News asked Warren Mailley-Smith why he had set out last September on this eleven recital marathon: "I love playing Chopin's music and I wanted to stretch my personal boundaries and explore every last detail of this great composer's contribution to the piano repertoire."

And what kind of experience has it been so far?  "It's been a hugely rewarding project to undertake - quite exhausting, but a huge amount of fun. I thought I might get sick and tired of playing his music - not at all - in fact quite the contrary."

His St Peter's recital will be a reprise of the penultimate recital of the series.  It is a varied programme of Chopin miniatures - five mazurkas, three polonaises, the well-loved Berceuse in D flat, the Trois Nouvelles Études and more.  It ends with the Barcarolle in F sharp Opus 60 which has inspired many composers.

What is it that makes the Barcarolle so special? "It is", Warren told Marlborough.News, "a masterpiece.  This work was written at the height of his artistic maturity.  It seems to encapsulate everything which he had developed as a composer - wonderful sense of structure, climatic build-up, ravishing harmonies and terrific contrasts of virtuosity and poetry."

Warren Mailley-Smith acknowledges that Chopin's music has never been out of fashion.  Why does he think that is?:  "It's the perennial quality of his melodies and because of the direct communication and the raw emotion of his music."

Reviews of his Complete Chopin Cycle series have been full of praise for Warren Mailley-Smith's interpretation and assured technique: "In Warren’s hands each (Etude) was a minor miracle, sensitively rendered and deftly delivered...the overall result was exceptionally engaging and intense.”

Another reviewer referred to his playing of Four Ballades: ”Chopin would have enjoyed the beauty, sensitivity and intellectual nous that Warren Mailley-Smith brought to his performance."

To get a preview of his interpretation of Chopin, you can watch and hear Warren Mailley-Smith playing Chopin's Grand Valse Brillante in E flat major. He says it is a composition "Brillante by name, brilliant by nature."  

We asked Warren why he chose to play the Complete Chopin Cycle at St John's Smith Square: "Beautiful acoustic, wonderful piano...and an ideal location."  He will certainly find a very fine piano and good acoustic at St Peter's Church - and undoubtedly a very appreciative audience.

This recital will be introduced by Robin Nelson - former head of music at Marlborough College whose Memoirs of a Music Man are appearing on Marlborough.News

Full details of tickets etc are here.

The fifth series of what must now be titled 'Brilliant Young International Pianists and Musicians' will start at St Peter's Church in October with Taiwanese pianist An-Ting Chang.  Her recital will range from Mozart and Schubert to Gershwin's Walking the Dog, Copland's The Cat and the Mouse and her own arrangement of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals.  

She will be followed by the Castalian String Quartet playing Ravel, Thomas Ades and Brahms.  

The fifth series will once again be sponsored by Hiscox Insurance. Watch this space for a full preview of the series coming later in June.



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"Wiltshire's Story in 100 objects" collects county-wide treasures & visual history - and that amazing silver Cup

The Lacock Cup in its glass caseThe Lacock Cup in its glass caseThe main treasure in the current exhibition at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes - Wiltshire's Story in 100 Objects - is the featured Lacock Cup.  And it truly is the most amazing object - glorious workmanship from the distant past.

The Cup is now owned jointly by the British Museum and the Wiltshire Museum - make sure to see it in this exhibition before it goes back to London.  It is described as one of the most significant pieces of secular English medieval silver.

It had been used as a communion chalice at St Cyriac's Church in Lacock until the church needed to raise money for repairs.  After a legal challenge to the proposed sale from a local resident, it went for £1.3million.  

Two replicas have been made - one for the church and one for the Wiltshire Museum when the original is not displayed there.   The one on display in this exhibition is the real thing.  

When the Rector of St Cyriac's spoke at the official opening of the exhibition, he told how people in Lacock missed 'their Cup' and that there were still people in the village who remembered taking communion from the Cup.

The exhibition - inspired by the British Museum/BBC's Story of the World in a 100 Objects - is the result of a close partnership between the county's museums.  Beyond the Cup, there is a host of intriguing and rare objects from 25 Wiltshire museums and galleries that tell the county's story in very different ways.  

Loans for the exhibition have been made for two years so the exhibition can tour the county.  And in some ways the exhibition is as much about the county's museums and galleries as about its history.

The exhibits have been divided into ten themes - from beliefs and ideas, through rule and rulers, to food and farming.   The variety of objects is breath taking - each one, with its succinct caption - needing time to place it in its period and context.

Marlborough - which so far has no proper museum or gallery - is represented by two Civil War lead bullets dating from the siege of 1642 that were later extracted from the walls of St Mary's Church.  Though somewhat more tangentially connected, there are two other important Marlborough items.

Civil War bullets from St Mary's Church wallsCivil War bullets from St Mary's Church walls  The cut halfpenny minted in Marlborough is on the leftThe cut halfpenny minted in Marlborough is on the left

There is Michael Ayrton's well-known portrait of William Golding - Nobel Laureate and Marlborough's best known novelist.  And there is a minute 'Silver cut halfpenny of Matilda, 1139-1148'.   This was minted in Marlborough - when the castle was still in royal hands.  The tiny, rather bent half coin was not found in Marlborough but in Box.

Other eye-catching objects covering a huge span of time include:  a pack of cards telling soldiers using Salisbury Plain how to behave (1990-200).  A Neolithic flint knife found at Windmill Hill near Avebury (c3650-3550BC.)   The early twentieth century works sign for Scout Motors - Salisbury's once-but-then-bankrupt motor vehicle manufacturer.  


And a crotal bell made in about 1800 in Aldbourne.  Attached to animals and carts since early medieval days, these bells had an iron ball inside the case which sounded whenever it was moved - a necessary early warning system especially after dark.

The exhibition is open until July 16: Mondays-Saturdays 10.00am to 5.00pm - Sundays 12noon to 4.00pm.  The Museum's normal admission prices apply.

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Easton Royal primary school pupils were 'Singing Together' for a new radio play

Raising the roof at the Wiltshire Music Centre (Adrian Harris Photography)Raising the roof at the Wiltshire Music Centre (Adrian Harris Photography)Last week four hundred Wiltshire primary school children from fifteen schools took part in a mass sing-in of traditional British folk songs at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon (April 20).  Among them were pupils from Easton Royal Academy.

Since January, the children have been learning nine folk songs from Britain’s musical heritage.  They included such old favourites as ‘Cockles and Mussels’, ‘The Skye Boat Song’, 'Men of Harlech' and ‘Scarborough Fair’. They have been taught in celebration of the long running BBC Schools radio programme, ‘Singing Together’.

‘Singing Together’ was created in 1939 to help bring a sense of community to the evacuees of World War Two.  It ran for nearly 60 years.

Swindon’s Prime Theatre and the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival have joined forces to provide professional singing leaders for each school. The recorded songs will become part of a specially commissioned radio play featuring both professional actors and members of Prime’s Youth Theatre.

The play has been written by Vicky Ireland MBE and will be broadcast by BBC Wiltshire on Monday, June 6 at 11.00am as part of the 2016 Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival (27 May to 11 June).

Swindon’s Prime Theatre and the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival have joined forces to provide professional singing leaders for each school.   Director Ben Occhipinti and his team had a great time bringing well-loved songs to today’s children: "The enthusiasm and energy they’ve given to each one will make this a moving and memorable project for listeners young and old.”

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Ordinary shoes with extraordinary stories at the heart of St Mary's Church art exhibition

Holy Ground ProjectHoly Ground ProjectArtist Paul Hobbs combines his artistic skills and imagination with his Christian faith. The exhibition his works completed over several years is entitled 'The Heart of Things' - and faith is at the heart of this exhibition.  His creations turn 'things' - many of them everyday things - into illustrations of religious beliefs that are relevant today.

At the centre of his exhibition in St Mary's Church (open Saturday to Monday, 30 April to 2 May - see link below for times) is an installation featuring pairs of shoes - each donated by an individual - some of them anonymous - and each accompanied by a short and clearly written panel telling their story.

It is called the Holy Ground Project and takes its cue from the verse in Exodus where God tells Moses at the burning bush: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."  At the centre of the illustration is an abstract  representation of that burning bush.

His installation has to fit the space available - this version is four metres in diameter with twenty pairs of shoes.   A larger version stretches to six-and-a-half metres in diameter with thirty pairs - and thirty stories.

"What connects all the people whose shoes are part of the installation," Paul tells Marlborough.News, "is they are all Christians and so have at some point encountered God and made a response."  

It is not very helpful to pick out individual pairs and their stories from this complex installation - so with apologies, here are three pairs:

Haile GebreselassieHaile Gebreselassie Laura CallenbergLaura Callenberg SabinaSabina

This is a pair of Haile Gebreselassie's running shoes.  As a schoolboy in Ethiopia he ran ten kilometres from home to school each day - and ten kilometres back again:  "When I was young I always dreamed of becoming an athlete.  And it's thanks to God that I was able to realise my dreams" - and run to achieve Olympic glory.

These pink sandals - with, I can assure you, have perky little heels - were donated by New York model Laura Calenberg.  Her modelling career led her into the depths and she finally realised she had, as she puts it, "neglected my relationship with God and chosen my own way."  She went on to found the organisation Models for Christ.

Third - and last of the three I have selected - are the pair of boots donated by a Kosovan mother called Sabina: "These are my daughter's boots.  They are not the shoes that Katerina wore when she was killed...a bomb blew our home up and we ran for our lives."

These are shoes that may not fit neatly with the lives of the people viewing the installation - but they make us all think about people's lives and our own.

Paul Hobbs' 'Ten Words' Paul Hobbs' 'Ten Words'

The other large installation is called simply Ten Words.  Blocks made into eleven towers in all sorts of liquorice colours - ten carry words from the ten commandments juxtaposed with appropriate newspaper headlines.  The eleventh tower depicts Christ: "Ten words and the final word."

And to one side there is a smaller version of Ten Words which visitors can explore and re-arrange.

Paul Hobbs Paul Hobbs There are some more representational works. And there is one 'ordinary thing' put into a frame to make us think about the extraordinary and the dreadful:  'In emergency break glass' is simply a machete in a glass case - whose blade can catch the light filtering through the church to make it look extremely chilling.  

It acts as "a memorial to the tragic bloodletting in Rwanda, Sierra Leone or Kenya."  But it is also about what fear can push humans to do - and asks what we would do in similar circumstances.

Paul Hobbs, who lives and works in Gloucester, has been touring with this exhibition for three years - three or four locations a year.  It is, as someone described it, 'a bit of a travelling circus' and certainly complex to set-up. 

Two Australian visitors to the town visited the exhibition in St Mary's on Saturday (April 30).  They told Paul they were atheists, but that they found his works thought provoking - and thanked him for the exhibition.

You can find details of opening times and of supporting events here.


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Who’s coming to Record Store Day? Show of Hands

Show of HandsShow of HandsBritish roots and folk legends Show of Hands will be playing a live set at Marlborough record shop Sound Knowledge on Saturday, April 16 to celebrate Record Store Day.

The nationwide initiative, now in its eighth year, sees record labels produce limited edition vinyl presses of new and classic albums, which are offered for sale only at participating independent record stores.

Sound Knowledge will be open from 8am on the day to cater to the needs of hungry vinyl junkies.

The music continues on Sunday, April 17 with RSD Live, featuring singer-songwriter Nick Harper, rock four-piece Sonic Meds, alt-folk duo Water Pageant, Avebury-based singer-songwriter George Wilding, and folk rock band Marcella at the neighbouring Thirty8 cafe bar from noon.

Attendance is free.

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