Crowds ignore rain for new park festival

Brighton’s Stanmer Park was the centrepiece for music lovers as crowds defied the weather to hear songs from through the ages. The four-day Music Park event drew thousands of fans to the site despite torrential rain lashing down during many of the performances. Organisers hope the series of concerts could become the biggest live music event in Brighton and Hove each year.

Ex-Boyzone heartthrob Ronan Keating wowed the audience as he helped kick off the festival on Thursday evening, supported by former binman and star of TV’s X-Factor Andy Abraham. Ellie Wilson, who reviewed the event for The Argus, said: “The crowd was lively and wore large smiles. The rain didn’t stop fans cheering songs such as When You Say Nothing At All and Life Is A Rollercoaster and swaying in true pop style until the very end.”

Then on Friday night it was the return of 1980s favourites ABC, Kim Wilde, Paul Young and Go West who bowled over the crowd with some classic tracks such as Wilde’s Kids in America and many others.

Soul Saturday, as it was called, featured the best in British soul with performances from Fame Academy’s Lemar, Beverley Knight and Jamelia.

Yesterday, the festival took the beat of a different genre as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed a programme of extracts from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Bizet’s Carmen, Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Conducted by Nick Davies and featuring soprano Shân Cothi, the afternoon started at 2pm with a screening of the feature-length documentary In Search of Mozart accompanied by a talk from director and Brighton-based film maker Phil Grabsky.

Classical guitarist Richard Durrant, from Shoreham, joined the orchestra for the middle movement of Rodrigo’s famous Aranjuez guitar concerto as well as the ever popular Cavatina by Stanley Myers, better known as the theme from Robert De Niro film The Deer Hunter theme.
Speaking before he took the stage Richard said: “I was born in Hollingbury and spent a lot of my childhood exploring the woods around Stanmer. At the age of 16 I still loved the place and chose to play my first ever public recital at the church in the park.
“This makes it all the more special to return to Stanmer all these years later as a soloist with the magnificent Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. For me Stanmer Park will always be one of the most magical of Brighton’s open spaces.”

Bill Murray, the managing director of Murray Media which organised the event’s publicity, said: “It’s been amazing. The spirit of live classical music from a real orchestra is not dead. There are hundreds of people getting drenched in the rain. It’s unbelievable that people have turned out despite the rain. The four days have been a total success. It’s been really amazing.”