New festival promises to be music to everyone’s ears

Composer and concert pianist Polo Piatti
Composer and concert pianist Polo Piatti

A RENOWNED composer and concert pianist is planning to bring orchestral music back to Hastings with a new festival that is the first of its kind in Europe.

British-Argentine Polo Piatti, is the creative force behind the International Composers Festival, which is set to take place at St Mary-in-the-Castle, in Pelham Place, on August 24 and 25.

Conscious that classical music often has a stuffy image he is one of a number of composers who are more concerned with making music that is pleasing to the ear, and which touches the soul, than avant garde pieces.

He said: “There’s a tendency in classical music to write music totally disregarding the audience.

“With classical music many people are afraid of saying that they don’t like it for fear of seeming uneducated.”

Polo promises that next month’s festival, with “beauty” as a theme, will be music to the ears of both the ordinary person on the street and the trained professional.

He has secured the appearances of local, national, and international composers, performers, and conductors, a major coup for Hastings, and furthermore they are all donating their services for free.

There will be 19 world premieres during the festival, as well as performances of more well-known pieces of contemporary classical music.

On both Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25, there will be evening concerts with performances of works by composers including Nigel Hess, Patrick Hawes, Nobuya Monta, and Polo Piatti, by the London Gala Orchestra, as well as performances by guest singers and musicians, and Hastings Philharmonic Choir.

The programme will also feature CD signings, talks, open rehearsals, and networking opportunities.

Polo is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in La Boca, an area which he said, very much resembles Hastings in terms of a traditional fishing industry existing side-by-side with a bohemian arts community.

He said that his 2010 orchestral suite The Tides of Time was in no small part inspired by his adopted hometown.

“The sea and the fishermen - I love the combination between the artistic people and the fishing community. I think I’m staying here.”

Since he arrived in Hastings five years ago, Polo has quickly become part of the community, and is now the arts and entertainments officer for the Winkle Club.

Speaking of his motives for organising the event, he said: “I’m not interested in making money, but in bringing back orchestral classical music to Hastings. Forty or fifty years ago, orchestras were coming from all over London.

“We are known for having fantastic musicians, pop and even opera, but not orchestral. I want to put Hastings back on the map.”

Festival day passes are £12, full festival passes are £20. Concessions are available and under 12s go free.

For full details visit www.composersfestival.com. Tickets are available from St Mary-in-the-Castle, call 01424 717592 or visit www.stmaryinthecastle.com.