Festive Gala goes online

The Festive Jazz Café, the Festival of Chichester’s special seasonal treat of words and music which is usually held in historic St John’s Chapel, is going online this year because of the current concerns about live events.

The show is in aid of next year’s Festival of Chichester and marks the opening of the entry window for organisations wishing to take part in next year’s festival. Entry is online via the festival website.

A scintillating cast of performers will take the virtual stage in a reprise of last year’s filmed seasonal delights.

Headlining the jazz are the Dream Duo and the Greek-influenced Rebetiki Serenata with Pavlos Carvalho (pictured).  The readings will be performed by film, TV and stage actor Gareth Williams with his wife, the actress Paula Tinker. The guest poet is Raine Geoghegan who will recite a selection of her Romany verses.

Gareth shot to fame with the Flying Pickets’ chart-topping million-seller Only You. Since then, Gareth has starred with the English Shakespeare Company, taken the role of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls in the West End and recently on stage as Ebenezer Scrooge. He will be reprising that role at the Festive Jazz Café with his wife Paula as they dramatize the Dickens classic. Chichester audiences will remember Paula from her many Chichester Festival Theatre roles which include The Mitford Girls, Valmouth and Underneath the Arches. 

Julian Marc Stringle on clarinet and vocals with Dominic Ashworth on guitar make up the Dream Duo. They appeared to great acclaim at the sell-out 2019 Poetry and Jazz Café at Edes House. Julian Stringle has appeared with many of the jazz greats, including Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Cleo Lane and John Dankworth.  Alongside Julian is ace Canadian guitarist Dominic Ashworth. One of the highlights of the festival show is their stunning rendition of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Jazzy Greek sounds are provided by Rebetiki Serenata who will take the audience on a musical journey from London to Athens via Paris. Pavlos Carvalho pops his classical music hat on to join festival regulars Ensemble Reza with a toe-tapping rendition of Duke Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing.  Romani poet Raine Geoghegan has been nominated for the Pushcart and Forward Prizes. Her verses of gypsy life published in Apple Water: Povel Panni and They Lit Fires give insights into a vanishing way of life.

Festival Co-ordinator Barry Smith said, ‘We’re absolutely delighted to have the support of these fantastic performers who all have Chichester connections and have appeared in our Festival. Audiences can be sure of having a great time and getting the Christmas season underway in swinging style as well as helping support next year’s Festival. All proceeds will go towards the 2022 Festival so it’s an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves knowing they are also supporting further treats next summer.’

The video will remain on the YouTube page and website throughout December and January to bring some festive cheer. Whilst watching the free show, it will be possible to make a donation to the Festival of Chichester to help support the exciting 2022 Festival.

To donate, go to https://ko-fi.com/festivalofchichester.