Spirit of Roaring Twenties revived at festival events

Art Deco Band

The music of Noel Coward, a timeless cinema classic, and the boundless energy of the Charleston will be among the highlights as the spirit of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ comes alive once again.

Almost a century after its sense of fun and vibrancy first captivated audiences, the entertainment of the 1920s will be showcased during the 2017 Words and Music Festival.

It will include performances by celebrated cabaret duo Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel and soprano Jeni Bern, alongside a screening of the Billy Wilder classic Some Like it Hot, which is set in 1929.

Organised by Peninsula Arts at the University of Plymouth, with support from the Suzanne Sparrow Plymouth Language School and PKF Francis Clark, the festival will feature a range of events staged at venues across the city. 

Simon Ible, Director of Music for Peninsula Arts and the festival’s Artistic Director, said:

“First and foremost, this festival is all about having fun. With a great line-up of events and performers, it will bring the entertainment which captivated audiences almost a century ago to life. By the time it finishes, I am sure the music, dancing and film synonymous with the 1920s will have a new generation of fans.”

The roster of events for the 2017 Words and Music Festival includes:

  • A screening of Some Like It Hot (1959). Directed by Billy Wilder, and set in 1929, this cinema classic sees Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play musicians who witness a Chicago mob murder before fleeing to Florida where they meet a down-on-her-luck ukulele player, played by Marilyn Monroe;
  • A musical tribute to Noel Coward and his legacy from cabaret duo Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel, who will pay homage to 'The Master’ by performing many of his enduring songs, as well as some lesser-known gems;
  • The Roaring Twenties Gala Concert, performed by the Peninsula Arts Sinfonietta and soprano Jeni Bern, and featuring works by American composers George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern and British composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and EJ Moeran. Jeni Bern recently starred in in Opera North’s production Cole Porter’s 20’s classic Kiss me Kate;
  • The Roaring Twenties Tea Dance, taking place in the ballroom at the Duke of Cornwall Hotel and featuring music from the ArtDeco Band led by Steve Chisholm and Tango dancing from Plymouth-based dance school Tango para el Alma;
  • Two talks, the first by Dr Jody Patterson, Associate Professor and Programme Leader for Art History at the University of Plymouth, about the impact of jazz music and the dynamics of improvisation on the development of modern art; and the second by Plymouth historian Chris Robinson about life in the city during the 1920s.

The 2017 festival is being supported by the Suzanne Sparrow Plymouth Language School and its founder, Suzanne Sparrow, said:

“The Roaring Twenties was a time when the First World War was over and a new, fresh beginning was in process. The music was crisp, jazzy and fun, which matched the tempo of the time but is equally pertinent to the situation we face today.”

Music at Peninsula Arts

From cutting-edge contemporary classical music to the magnificent live performances of the Peninsula Arts Sinfonietta, there is a musical experience for everyone.

Through the commissioning and development of new music, alongside supporting new talent and bringing world-class musicians to Plymouth, Peninsula Arts is pivotal to the growing music scene across the South West; this includes our programme of participatory community music partnership activities.

The ‘new music’ flagship event is the annual Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, promoted in partnership with Plymouth University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR).

Film at Peninsula Arts

Providing a unique insight into films not available elsewhere in Plymouth or the South West, the Jill Craigie Cinema explores hidden gems of past cinema, critical documentaries and daring cult films that will inspire, scare and surprise.

Many films are  accompanied by talks from film directors, film makers and critics who provide a fascinating insight into the changing culture of moving image. 

The Jill Craigie Cinema is located on the ground floor of the Roland Levinsky Building, Drake Circus campus.