Black Dog Cafe, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

From little things big things grow

I met Paul Barber one day at the Cafe’ back in 2012 when he came in and dropped off some flyers to promote the Frant Festival of Music. I am always happy for people to leave flyers and didn’t give it too much thought until my father in-law, an avid classical music fan highlighted that the artist, a Soprano set to perform at Frant Church was world famous. I am so grateful I took the opportunity to go, it was awesome and I am now on the inspired and exciting journey Paul is taking us on.    

The concerts started in 2005 when Paul met Paul Nicholls playing at the Chafford Arms in Fordcombe. Paul asked if he was interested in playing a fund raising gig for the Church, he was and played two concerts, the 2nd< being with a young soprano and David Watmough, pianist and sometime conductor for the TWSO. Other contacts led to further concerts, and then Paul started asking big names like Dame Felicity Lott, Tina May and Jacqui Dankworth. From little things big things grow and grow and grow. This September Nigel Kennedy comes to Frant Church in to play two concerts as part of the Frant Festival of Music. There has been a long list of world famous artists to play at the Church but this is so far the pinnacle. For this I salute Paul Barber, in his words ‘he keeps asking the world’s best, and so far got away with it!’ My first visit to Frant Church was to see Soprano Christine Brewer, and sitting in the front pew, literally 3 feet away from Christine as she belted out Strauss’ 4 Last songs was extraordinary. My other highlights have been Tenor Toby Spence and classical guitarist Xuefei Yang. John Williams has played twice and the 2ndwith John Etheridge was supposed to be immense. For those who have not been to any of the concerts I implore you to go. World famous artists in this intimate setting, so close to Tunbridge Wells is an absolute unique experience. The same concerts in London will set you back hundreds of pounds compared to tickets under £20 in Frant. You will be left breathless and your contribution goes to the conservation of a beautiful grade II building.

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