Friday, April 12th, 2024

Popular Summer Festival can trace its roots back to 1970 music event at Sevenoaks School

by Festival Chairman – Ray Russell

THE START of this year’s Sevenoaks Summer Festival is only weeks away (22 June). But how did this popular event first get underway?

The front page of the brochure from the Paean 70 festival which is recognised as being the start of what became the Sevenoaks Summer festival.

It began in 1970 when Sevenoaks School upgraded its previously internal Paean’, a series of musical events inaugurated in 1968 to celebrate the end of exams, to Paean ’70 – A Festival of Music and the Arts for Sevenoaks.

The school wanted the event to be the start ‘of an annual event, which should eventually benefit the whole local community’. It was, they said, “an exciting undertaking” and one that required ‘a great amount of energy and endurance from the participants’.

Performances were held at the School and in St Nicholas’ Church, Sevenoaks, and the first Festival in 1970 had composer Michael Tippett as its Patron.

It opened on Sunday, 5 July 1970 with a service at St Nicholas’ Church and ran until Wednesday, 15 July, closing with a concert in the Aisher Hall – ‘Music of the Golden Age’, presented by a trio that included “Honorary President & Artistic Director” Richard Hames.  With 20 events and an art exhibition that ran throughout the Festival, the programme offered concerts, recitals, lectures, films (Charlie Chaplin) and, on “the Rough”, a “Summer Song Open-Air Barbecue” – an anthology of poetry and music to celebrate the season of Summer that continued with a barbecue at which the audience could engage with the artistes to a background of blue-grass and modern folk music.

The range of genres represented in this year’s Festival and the venues where the events are being held can be found in this year’s Sevenoaks Summer Festival brochure. Pages 4 & 5 list this year’s events by date and by genre – 20 of them – our aim is for Festival to have something for all ages and tastes:

Nigel Bagge and Eddie Armer will be playing The Blues at The Anchor Pub in Sevenoaks on Wednesday, 3 July, as part of the Blues with Bottle Club. The music starts at 8.30pm and admission is free.

  • Children’s Events
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Exhibitions & Festivals
  • Festival Fair
  • Film
  • Magic Show
  • Music – Blues & Rock
  • Music – Choral
  • Music – Classical
  • Music – Folk, World & Country
  • Music – Jazz
  • Music at the Vine Bandstand
  • Music – Light
  • Music– Pop, Funk, Soul & Contemporary
  • Musical
  • Poetry
  • Quiz
  • Walks, Talks & Workshops
  • Youth Events

Young musicians are being invited to join in a Jazz Workshop (7pm start) being held in conjunction with the Kent Youth Jazz Orchestra on Tuesday, 25 June, at New Beacon School in Sevenoaks. It will be followed by a mini concert from 9-9.30pm and admission is free.

Page 38 of the brochure contains the addresses and post codes of the 27 venues for Festival 2019 events. Directions and parking guidance for our school venues are set out on pages 35 and 36. Again, there’s quite a range – from recognised theatres and concert halls to pubs, churches, community and village halls, as well as the open-air spaces at Bligh’s Meadow, Vine Gardens and The White Rock Inn.

While most of the venues are located within the TN13 area, the Festival extends beyond the immediate town to take in The Baron’s Hall at Penshurst Place, where Chamber ensemble Primavera stages its annual Festival concert, the Great Comp Festival at St Mary’s Platt and the grounds of The White Rock Inn at Underriver, where Sevenoaks Shakespeare Society presents ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are also free jazz events featuring Sue Rivers’ and Jo Fooks’ Quintet at The Three Horseshoes, Knockholt, where the Bosville Valley Stompers also bring their brand of Dixie Jazz.

Full details are in the brochure available to collect from Stag, Waitrose and various other outlets in Sevenoaks and surrounding towns and villages. You can also view an online version on the Sevenoaks Summer festival website, which also has links to the box offices for all ticketed events:

Look our for more information on the My Sevenoaks Community website in the coming weeks.

For further information please contact:

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