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Arts & Entertainment

St John's choir sings in national competition finals


The massed school choir finalists at the Festival HallThe massed school choir finalists at the Festival HallFor the 29 girls of the St John's Academy Chorus singing in the finals of the Barnardo's National Choir competition at the Festival Hall was a tremendous experience.  But nine of its members came back from London and soon went into the last rehearsals for the production of We Will Rock You - the schools version.

St John's was one of only six secondary school choirs in the county to get a place in this national competition after they impressed the judges with the video clip they sent for the elimination round.  Twenty-three choirs performed at the finals last Tuesday' (February 9.)  

It was the first competition the choir has entered. Each choir had to sing one of their competition pieces in the evening concert as well as joining in two massed choir numbers.

St John's had beaten several school choirs which regularly make the finals of this competition and at the Festival Hall they faced stiff opposition.  They did not win the competition, but their director, Max More, was very pleased with the choir's achievement.

"I was immensely proud of what the girls achieved. They have been telling me for weeks that it would all be OK on the day, and it most certainly was!"

"For a choir that has only been in existence for just over a year, and with limited rehearsal time, we have done commendably well. As ambassadors for St John's, the students were simply exemplary."

"For a number of the Sixth Form choir members this was their last performance before their examination schedules take over. I wish them every success and thank them for their fantastic contribution to the choir."

Max More, the school's Director of Performance, is also directing this year's stage musical - the schools version of We Will Rock You. The show is being performed over four nights, 23, 25, 26 and 27 February.

Tickets are on sale from Ticketsource.


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Two big names – and one new one – make tracks for Sound Knowledge

Turin BreaksTurin BreaksTwo big names in music are making tracks for record shop Sound Knowledge this month.

On Monday, January 18 from 6.30pm, Mystery Jets will be performing a live set at neighbouring Azuza, followed by a signing session of their new album Curve of the Earth.

The indie rock band first performed in Marlborough back in 2006, on the release of their debut album Making Dens.

And on Friday, January 29, from 6.30pm, Turin Breaks will be gracing the Azuza stage, ahead of a signing session at Sound Knowledge.

Lost Property is the band's seventh album and the follow up to We Were Here, which the band also promoted at Sound Knowledge back in 2013.

It will be a fourth visit for the folk rock four-piece, who had a Top Five hit in 2003 with (Painkiller) Summer Rain.

Finally, on Sunday, January 31 from 4.30pm the Azuza stage will be given over to hotly-tipped duo Seafret, who will be playing and signing in support of their debut album, Tell Me Its Real.

Tickets to all performances are free on condition of purchase of an album. Fans can register their interest for performances on the Sound Knowledge Facebook Page.

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Summer School’s entertainment programme to be opened by Palin, closed by Elvis


Michael PalinMichael PalinOne of Britain’s best-loved personalities will be opening Marlborough College Summer School gala entertainment programme.

Michael Palin will open the programme on Tuesday, July 12. Organisers said they were “delighted, and hugely excited” to make the announcement.

The comedian, actor, writer and television presenter made his name with the anarchic comedy group Monty Python – where he created the legendary Dead Parrot sketch with Terry Jones – and later made a number of travel documentaries, trekking to the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert and the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, the curtain will fall on the gala entertainment programme on Friday, August 5 with a performance by Lee Jackson, renowned as one of the best Elvis impersonators on the planet.

Gala entertainment programme events will be open to the general public. Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow (Tuesday) at


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New year, new album – fans raise £1,500 for Marlborough musician's recording sessions

Ben performing at Marlborough Jazz Festival 2015Ben performing at Marlborough Jazz Festival 2015Fans of Marlborough jazz and pop musician Ben Cipolla have funded the recording of his new album following a campaign on the website Kickstarter.

The seven-piece Ben Cipolla Band will be heading into the studio after 28 backers pledged a total of £1,530. Ben announced the campaign had hit its target on New Year’s Eve.

“We’ve done it, on the last day of a spectacular year,” he told fans.

The band offered a range of incentives to attract backers: fans who pledged £15 will receive a free copy of the album, while those who pledged £25 will have their album signed. Three backers who pledged more than £100 will get VIP access to a gig of their choice, while one backer pledged £500 to have the band play a private gig at their home.

The band will record the 10-song album in five consecutive days at either Toybox Studio in Bristol, or Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Box, near Bath.

As reported by Marlborough News Online back in 2013, singer-songwriter Ben started his musical career as a 14-year-old busker. In 2012 he was spotted busking during Marlborough Jazz Festival by headliner Clare Teal, and performed with her at the festival the following year.

Since then, the young musician has also performed at the Olympic ceremony at Weymouth, and a Glastonbury 2014.

The Ben Cipolla Band were voted Best Newcomer Of The Year at Marlborough Jazz Festival 2014.

Fans can catch a solo performance by Ben at st Mary’s Church, Marlborough at 6pm on Saturday, January 9.

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Avebury’s famous stones recreated in lights

Children enjoy Avebury's Circle of LightsChildren enjoy Avebury's Circle of LightsThere’s something a little different about the Christmas lights at Avebury this year they aren’t strung overhead, and they look suspiciously like the world-famous standing stones.

The Circle of light was designed by National Trust curator Dr Ros Cleal, and made by staff and volunteers.

The display echoes the ancient stone circle that Avebury lies within, with seven standing ‘stones’ made from lights.

The National Trust has also invited schoolchildren to sing carols around the tree in the Old Farmyard – children from Preshute performed on Tuesday, with another local school performing on the 14th.

And visitors to Avebury Manor will be able to see rooms decorated in the style of Christmases past. For more information log on to


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It’s happy fir-thday, as Christmas tree event celebrates 21 years


Burbage’s renowned Christmas Tree Sale comes of age this weekend, marking its 21st anniversary with songs, crafts and, of course, Christmas trees.

People trek from all over Wiltshire to attend the annual events, which last year raised £20,000 for local charities and saw 800 trees sold.

Besides the trees there’s a chance for visitors to browse craft stalls – there are 50 this year – and enjoy musical entertainment from the Pewsey Belles, Bedwyn Millennium and Burbage Primary School choirs.

There are free craft activities and face painting for children and Father Christmas has also promised to put in an appearance.

The event will be opened at 9am this Saturday by MP Claire Perry, who will also be helping to measure and net trees for customers.

The Savernake Forest Scout Group and the Burbage Brownies have also been involved this year, and will be spotted over the weekend selling charming wooden reindeer and snowmen, reindeer food and home-made dish cloths and wrapping paper.

Organiser, George Gordon, said: “Burbage Christmas Tree Sale has become somewhere to come for a great day out, with something for everyone. Our market, which is housed in a large marquee, has plenty on offer, and visitors always comment on the wonderful festive atmosphere we have here.”

This year, the Christmas Market will include two local children’s authors, Debi Evans and Barbara Townsend, who will both be signing copies of their books.

The event runs from 9am until 4pm on Saturday (December 12) and until 2pm on Sunday.

For more information log on to



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"Inspirational godfather" of the double bass joins Marlborough orchestra for their Christmas concert

David HeyesDavid HeyesDavid Heyes has been called the "inspirational godfather of the international double bass world".  On Saturday, December 5, he will be playing Serge Koussevitsky's popular Double Bass Concerto with the Marlborough Concert Orchestra at St Mary's Church, Marlborough (7.30pm.)  This concerto was premiered in Moscow in 1905.

A much-revered teacher at Wells Cathedral School, Heyes' collaborative work gained him a prestigious award from the David Walter Charitable Trust of New York for his pioneering activities as a soloist, teacher and commissioner of new music for double bass.  He is also a music publisher - founder the publishing company Recital Music, which has the world's largest catalogue of double bass music.

He works with composers throughout the world and is particularly interested in expanding the double bass repertoire by commissioning new works and  
rediscovering forgotten ones.  Since 1990 more than 500 works have been 
written for him and he has premiered nine contemporary concertos.

Marlborough Concert Orchestra's Christmas concert will also include lively pieces such as Ferdinand Hérold's clog dance from the comic ballet La Fille Mal Gardée, two of Brahms' Hungarian Dances, Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann overture and Christmas themed music such as Sergei Prokofiev's Troika or Sleigh Ride.

Marlborough Concert Orchestra’s Conductor is Roselise Gentile, an Italian musician who has specialised in orchestral and choral conducting and has conducted orchestras, choirs and ensembles in Italy, France and Slovenia. She has now settled in the UK but still works as a freelance conductor in Italy.

The orchestra's Leader is Edward Judge, a retired IT professional who rediscovered the violin after 25 fallow years.  He moved to Ramsbury in 1988 and now plays violin or viola with several local orchestras.  As well as being a keen chamber musician he also enjoys playing saxhorn with the Ramsbury silver band.

Marlborough Concert Orchestra plays light music and popular classics.  It has entertaining rehearsals and three concerts a year.  It aims to promote, improve, develop and maintain public appreciation of orchestral music in all its aspects.  The orchestra rehearses on Tuesday evenings at Christchurch, New Road, Marlborough.  

Tickets for the Christmas concert are £9 (£2 for students) - available from Sound Knowledge, Hughenden Yard and on the door. There will be a licensed bar and a raffle.

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