Rachel Barclay Smith tells us a bit more about the concert in St James’s Church on Friday 16 June and the people who are making it happen.

Pianos and Organs

Like so many things in Bramley and Little London, the Music Festival wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the numerous people who freely give their time and talents. For our concert on Friday 16 June we are relying on some expert help from two local businessmen.  Friday is the “Battle of the Keyboards” when Ken Harratt will be playing piano and jazz keyboard and Simon Dinsdale will be playing the organ.  The organ was installed in St James’s church in the 1880s so it is there ready and waiting, but finding a decent piano is more difficult.  That is where Ben Wheeler comes in. He is kindly lending us a Kawai baby grand piano from his showroom. How he will get it through the door I’m not sure, but his staff are kindly delivering it and tuning it for us so that by the time Ken arrives he will have an impressive piano all ready to play.

High tech audio visual comes to the church

So that’s the piano sorted but what are the audience going to look at when Simon is playing the organ?  The organ is at the back of the church so do the audience try and turn around getting a sore neck in the process or do they stare vacantly at the pulpit? Well fortunately they won’t have to do either of those things as thanks to Nic Ide of ITM AV Limited we will have a high definition screen at the front of the church onto which images of Simon’s hands and feet will be projected. I must warn him to clean his shoes……

A bit more about Ken and Simon

Ken is a classically trained pianist and studied music at Brunel University.  However, his main passion is jazz.  He studied jazz piano with Liam Noble and some of you may remember him performing with the Joseph Henry Jazz Collective at the last festival. Ken is also keyboard player for the jazz group Shades in Jade, and resident pianist/arranger for the Watford-based One Voice community choir and the vocal group Soul Singers. We are lucky he managed to fit us into his busy schedule!

Simon is a former Organ Scholar of Chichester Cathedral and former Director of Music at St. Mary’s Choir School, Reigate. Now teaching in Reading he travels extensively throughout the UK as accompanist, continuo player and organist to a number of choirs, and regularly plays at cathedrals up and down the country. Further afield, concert tours have taken him to Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the USA and he has broadcast on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Berkshire and Classic FM. Such is his love of playing the organ that one of his lifetime achievements is being accidentally locked in Westminster Abbey one Friday night whilst playing the organ there!

I would like to thank my parents, my brother, my Auntie Margie……..

It is not just the experts who are helping out on Friday. Lots of people from Bramley and Little London are also are working hard throughout the Festival to make it a success. It is impossible to mention everyone without this turning into an Oscar acceptance speech, but just focussing on the evening itself demonstrates how many people are involved. When you arrive at church you will know you are in the right place as Arthur and his team of car park wardens will find you somewhere to park in the adjacent farmyard kindly loaned to us for the event by Mrs Hall. As you walk along the church path you will be welcomed by the sound of St James’s bells being rung by Terry Copper and his team of ringers. Once in the church you will be handed a programme by Jeremy and Carleen, kindly printed by Frank Knight, and will be able to admire the beautiful flowers arranged by Joyce and her team. After being entertained by our top-class performers you will enjoy canapés made by members of the church (or in my case, possibly by Waitrose because I am going to need a lot of their free coffees!)

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