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Visitors from across the Pond love King's Lynn

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A unique and exclusive evening event took place in one of Lynn's finest medieval guildhalls, the Town Hall, on Midsummer's day.

Organised by Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust (SGT), yesterday, a classical music recital was held in the Stone Hall followed by a seven-course gala banquet in the Assembly Room at Trinity Guildhall.

It was the culmination of a three-day cultural tour of Lynn and West Norfolk by John Braymer's Art and Architecture Tours, the Garth Newel Piano Quartet and a party of 34 American patrons.

Classical music recital at King's Lynn Town Hall. Pictured with borough mayor Lesley Bambridge are organisers John Braymer and Ivor Rowlands. MLNF-22MF060270
Classical music recital at King's Lynn Town Hall. Pictured with borough mayor Lesley Bambridge are organisers John Braymer and Ivor Rowlands. MLNF-22MF060270

In the presence of the borough mayor, the programme began at 7pm with the quartet of Teresa Ling, violin, Kathryn Votapek, viola, Isaac Melamed , cellist, and Jeannette Fang, pianist.

Ivor Rowlands, of the SGT, who organised the Lynn leg of the tour, said: "As part of the visit, Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust arranged for the Garth Newel Quartet to visit Springwood High School and for some students to attend the recital at the Guildhall to provide them with the chance to experience a professional formal performance.

"Although concert recitals and gala banquets are being held in London and Oxford, Lynn is the only place in the group's itinerary where they joined members of the local community at the concert and dinner."

King's Lynn mayor Lesley Bambridge with some of the guests. MLNF-22MF060273
King's Lynn mayor Lesley Bambridge with some of the guests. MLNF-22MF060273

The three-day trip was organised locally by Mr Rowlands following a query for a concert venue in Norfolk.

It was the unique credentials of St George's Guildhall that was initially the main draw of King's Lynn.

It was on the back of John's enthusiasm for St George's, that the entire Norfolk leg of the trip was subsequently moved to Lynn. John visited Lynn for a 'recce' in November 2021 and was blown away by what he saw.

Initially the intention was for the concert to be held at St George's Guildhall, but it was later agreed it would be preferable to hold the concert at the town hall.

Music recital at the town hall in Lynn. MLNF-22MF060277
Music recital at the town hall in Lynn. MLNF-22MF060277

This one small group of 31 visitors will generate £30,000 in just three days for local businesses. It is a pointer to what can be achieved in Lynn on the back of St George's Guildhall. Just one similar group per week could bring a £2 million boost to the town.

The visit included a selection of the very best cultural highlights that King's Lynn and West Norfolk has to offer, starting on Sunday with a guided walk of Historic Lynn by the Town Guides, a tour of Clifton House and tower by Dr Simon Thurley, and a visit to St George's Guildhall with Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust. Dinner was at Bank House.

On Monday, there were private tours of Sandringham House in the morning and Houghton Hall in the afternoon. In the evening the guests enjoyed a fish and chip supper at the Rose and Crown in Snettisham.

Pictured music quartet. MLNF-22MF060274
Pictured music quartet. MLNF-22MF060274

On Tuesday, John Vigar, the renowned historian and expert on medieval churches, led a tour of village churches in Harpley and Syderstone. The concert recital and gala dinner followed in the evening.

The visitors told the Lynn News they had greatly enjoyed their visit to Lynn.

Callan McJuggen, from West Virginia said: "We have had a great time and I really don't know this area at all, this was a fabulous detour. Everyone is so friendly. We're coming back."

Pamela Holley, from Ohio said: "The weather has been extraordinary, we've been nicely surprised, and it has been beautiful. I've only been in England once before, not a frequent visitor."

Midsummer melodies took place at the town hall. MLNF-22MF060278
Midsummer melodies took place at the town hall. MLNF-22MF060278

John Braymer of Art and Architecture Tours Inc, said: "We had a really wonderful walking tour on Sunday afternoon on our arrival. The historic depth of King's Lynn was really engaging to me when I came here in November to get ready for this trip and knew that it would be very fascinating because of the layers of history here and we had very excellent guides in Dr Paul Richards and Ivor Rowlands.

"I think that it is very important to understand how the community kept reinventing itself from the medieval period onwards.

"We have been so graciously welcomed here in this community and sincerely appreciate the turnout of people who have helped to make this visit really terrific.

John Braymar (57493817)
John Braymar (57493817)

"There is always a possibility of Great House fatigue and we were able to put together a programme that was so architecturally and artistically mixed."

Shawn Pullen, director of Garth Newel Music Institute, said: "In the making for three years, been a long time coming.

"It's charming and lovely and friendly and wonderful. We don't have the opportunity to stroll down avenues that are 500 years old, we have places that are 50 years old and we put a sign on it that it is of historic significance. We had a tour ended at the Guildhall, a lovely tour of that. Extraordinary, that needs to be marketed hard.

Music quartet. MLNF-22MF060276
Music quartet. MLNF-22MF060276

"That is very special and we shall trade on that when we return to the States."

The drinks reception serving up a gin summer cocktail, was held in the Stone Hall. Dinner was served in the adjacent Georgian Assembly Room celebrating the best of local food and drink.

Accompanying the banquet were matched wines from Norfolk’s finest award-winning vineyards in the confines of Trinity Guildhall, Town Hall, which is a building dating back to the 15th century.

The Garth Newel Piano Quartet is known for their spirited and impassioned performances that offer an enlivened interpretation of both standard and new repertoire.

As artists-in-residence at Garth Newel Music Center in Warm Springs, Virginia they are one of the premier and most active chamber music organisations in the United States, programming and performing over 50 concerts each year.

The quartet performed Frank Bridge (1879-1941) Phantasy Piano Quartet, H. 94, Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) Quartet No 2 in E-flat Major, Op 87 for violin, viola, cello and piano.

The quartet has performed throughout the United States and on five continents, at such prominent venues as Carnegie Hall, Strathmore Hall, The Chautauqua Institution, and the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop.

This concert was one of only three performances in the UK this year, as part of a tour of Oxford, London, and Lynn.

While most of the guests were enjoying the delights of West Norfolk, the musicians of the Garth Newel Quartet were provided with a unique rehearsal space in the drawing room of a 15th century house in King's Street, generously provided by Dr Robert Anderson.

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