FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: The magical festival that belongs to you

First-day perforemrs: the CMA Pop Choir
First-day perforemrs: the CMA Pop Choir
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By Gary Shipton, Editor In Chief

Begin as you mean to go on, is a quote which could not have been articulated more effectively in practice than at the launch of the Festival of Chichester 2015.

From a huge community event in the heart of Chichester on Saturday afternoon to an amazing concert in the cathedral in the evening, the Festival made clear from the outset what it is all about.

Collaboration. Community. Sheer artistic quality. A coming together of the people of our great city and beyond for a true celebration of culture, carnival, and fun. It is all these things and more.

And Day One proved it.

When the Chichester Festivities disappeared from the annual calendar there was a danger that only a void would remain.

The people of Chichester are more resourceful.

I am delighted and proud that the Chichester Observer helped give birth to the new festival thanks to its prodigious arts editor Phil Hewitt who chairs the Festival committee.

But it could never have succeeded without a committee of enormous talent, diversity and dedication and I congratulate every one of them. They range from the cathedral to the city council; from the library service to the local newspaper.

More than that, they comprise people with a true heart for Chichester, its people and the arts.

They knew their role was that of catalyst rather than organiser. They avoided too the pitfall of commercialisation.

So they created a festival of the many that in turn created itself. And they funded it with the hard works and collaboration of the community rather than putting their trust in the vagaries of sponsorship and financial support.

As a result, the Chichester Festival is a true community endeavour - a host of events that come together under one umbrella making our city an even finer place in which to live and work

The opening concert was supported by all our civic leaders from Mayor and Mayoress and district council Chairman to the Leader of the county council. Their encouragement is hugely appreciated.

As for the concert itself, the acclaimed Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra was in sparkling form - with a programme which could not have been better attuned to the spirit of our celebrations.

Dvorak’s Carnival Overture set the scene; Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream unionised our dramatic heritage with that sense of magic that inspires any great festival; while his Violin Concerto and Brahms’ Symphony Number 4 proved that excellence is the bedrock of any great cultural enterprise.

So enjoy the festival. Give it your every support.

It’s not just a wonderful thing.

It belongs to you.

Gary Shipton

Editor In Chief | Sussex

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