Ashbourne Festival Launch 8th May 2008

Ashbourne Telegraph review by Carol frost – Singers give early taster for Festival

With first floor windows thrown open on a lovely evening the sound of harmonious voices could be heard coming from the coffee shop at the St. John Street Gallery on Thursday. For intrigued members of the public there will be an opportunity to hear more, for the vocals came from eight members of the Ashbourne Singers at the launch of the Ashbourne Festival programme in which all 40 singers will take part. Their concert will be during the evening of Sunday June 22 at St John’s Church, Ashbourne.

Donors, sponsors and supporters of Ashbourne Festival were among those at the launch, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Ashbourne, Councillor Steve Bull and his wife Sue; members of Ashbourne Town Council; County Councillor and District Councillor Andrew Lewer, and District Councillor Ian Bates and his wife Joan.

Ashbourne Arts chairman Chris Walker, welcoming everyone, said this would be the ninth festival. He had been involved from the start and from a small beginning the festival had grown to what it is now. With copies of the programme available from that evening he explained that it included this year things they had not done before; other things they had expanded and more comedy.

Said the chairman: “I am sure whatever your taste you will find something in the programme for you. A lot of hard work has gone into the programme and we are very excited to see how it has grown. Until these last two years or so many people had not heard about it and didn’t know what we were talking about when the festival was mentioned. Now many more of them know that the festival comes round every year.”

International and local artists were included in the programme and Mr Walker promised there would be lots to see and do for all ages. “Just enjoy it,” he urged. Mr Walker welcomed too some of the Ashbourne Singers with their conductor Linda Perry Smith and said he could not believe what they had achieved since their formation nine months ago.

He thanked everyone for their contribution in supporting the festival, and because they did not get enough people paying for tickets, spoke of the great need for grants, sponsorship, donations and other aid. “We are most grateful to everyone for their support as we try to bring the festival to the masses.” Thanks too were expressed by the chairman to all those who worked throughout the winter months putting together the programme and who did the majority of the work and were now at their busiest time in the box office.

The Mayor said how grateful the town council was to the organisers of the festival which could only help the town’s tourism and retailers. The festival was one of the first events for any new Mayor of Ashbourne and very much helped to settle them into the job, and he thanked them all.

Light refreshments were served as the small contingent from the Ashbourne Singers sang Steal Away to Jesus, a song from West Side Story and finally the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.Festival Lau