Another Great Line-Up For Summer Music Festival

Ray Gelato

We are once again supporting the St Edmund’s Summer Music Festival by sponsoring one of the headline acts.

The festival, which runs from June 24-30, is the fourth the Canterbury school has organised and starts with a concert by jazz legend Courtney Pine and his House of Legends band.

We are sponsoring jazz, swing and blues saxophonist and singer Ray Gelato and his band The Giants. Their concert is on June 29.

Ian Swatman, St Edmund’s head of performance, said: “Ray Gelato has been on the jazz/swing scene for many years and he often plays at Ronnie Scott’s.

“I first met him in the late 80s at Cork Jazz Festival and I’ve played dates with him in Ireland and Norway. He’s steeped in the swing tradition. The school’s Big Band will also have a spot in the concert.”

Top musicians

The idea of a festival came about in 2016 when Ian thought about bringing some top musicians to the school.

“The previous head said I feel a festival coming on and that’s how it started,” said Ian. “We held the first one in 2017.”

International concert pianist Freddy Kempf, a former St Edmund’s pupil, launched the first event and it’s grown from there.

Jess Gilham – solo concert

Saxophonist John Harle is the patron and previous festivals have featured such top performers as Tasmin Little, Jess Gillam and, last year, American jazz singer Curtis Stigers.

Not only does the festival attract top musicians, it also gives the school’s pupils a chance to shine by playing some gigs with the performers.

“The festival gives us a brilliant opportunity to open our doors to the wider community,” said Ian. “Each year we try to vary it with different genres of music, as well as other events.

“Last year we got a MCC team down to play cricket and we’re doing that again this year. We also have Jess Gillam coming back to play a solo recital which should be amazing.”

Gumboots Reggae Band

Other festival events include a family day on the Saturday, with the Gumboots Reggae Band, a poetry day, an art competition open to schools in east Kent, a Strictly Fetival based on the BBC show and a cabaret in the festival marquee.

“It’s great that now I am getting people approaching me about playing,” said Ian. “We are attracting a much wider audience and I’m already thinking about acts for 2021.

“We are trying to keep the ticket price reasonable so as many people as possible can enjoy the events.”

Sponsors play crucial role

Ian is very grateful for the support he receives from the event’s sponsors.

“Without their generosity the festival would not happen,” he said. “They are absolutely crucial. It takes a lot of people to put on a festival like this.”

The finale will feature a music and dance spectacle called West End to Broadway which will be followed by a firework display on the hill overlooking the city.

The Festival on the Hill launches on March 23 when full details will be announced.