Saffron Walden is transformed into music haven in Fete de la Musique

Fete de la Musique. Picture: Joe Higham Reportage

Fete de la Musique. Picture: Joe Higham Reportage - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden’s Fete de la Musique was been declared a “triumph for the town”. One visitor declared he whole town “a paradise”.

On a delightful, sunny day, it was a marvellous party. Every band had an appreciative audience but nowhere was too crowded. The event with 300 musicians at 10 venues, drew some 3,000 visitors.

Two teenager brothers and their 10-year-old sister, The Harliono Piano Trio with George on piano, Joshua on violin and Adelaide on cello, got a standing ovation in a packed town hall when they played Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor and 15-year-old Joshua’s own composition Thunderstorm.

The food stalls sold out, and there were queues at Adnams for the cocktails. All the artists had an appreciative audience. Jayne Drinkwater, a musician from Bassingbourn, said: “There was a real buzz in the town. There was a lovely carnival atmosphere. It was fun walking through the town drifting from one performance to the next.”

It was impossible to resist swaying in the sunshine to the sounds of Band Friday, the County High School’s jazz band, playing Copacabana on the lawn outside the museum. It was against nature not to hum along blissfully with Gershwin played by the Saffron Dance Band in Jubilee Gardens.

The crowd were rocking to the Irish jigs played by The Hooligans, another family band with dad Liam and daughters, Ailis, 14 and Maeve 12 in the Market Square. No one could decide in the end whether Mortal Tides were indie or folk but who cared? What they do with a fiddle, double bass guitar and drums is stunning. The Hope Brothers with their uplifting, sunny folk, had a great time and so did their audience.

A coach party on its way from the south to Norwich, took their break by chance in Saffron Walden and stayed for the day.

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A visitor from Blackheath said: “Saffron Walden has beautiful buildings, a wide variety of great places to showcase music, happy people who join in. It’s paradise.”

And the Fete was more than just music. More than 100 scooters, bladers, skaters and BMXers signed up for the free competitions at the Skate Park’s Get Active and Skate Jam Day where 10-year-olds to 50-year-olds all used the space together. Younger children enjoyed the mini park.

The event was organised by the Saffron Walden Arts Trust led by Isabella Warren, Pat Lodge and Louise Turner and stewarded by 60 volunteers.

Mrs Lodge said: “At just one venue you could hear swing, jazz, folk, blues, light classical, a sitar, indie and rock.

“This is what we were aiming for, to give people a chance to hear every sort of music from every age group all given equal importance.”