Party in the Town is a hit for second time

By Steve Peacock in Arts

Totnes has been partying like its … even better than 1999. More than 3,500 ­people flocked to the town ­centre for the Party in the Town free music festival.

Almost double the number of people turned out for the event compared with last year’s first Party in the Town, organised by Dartington Arts and the Dartington International Summer School as an annual community celebration.

They packed into 10 venues to enjoy more than 50 acts in a single day of events ranging from Morris Dancing in the main street to the London-based electro funk bank The Noisettes in the Civic Hall.

Queues formed outside some of the venues as pubs became packed out with music fans.

More than 90 schoolchildren and their teachers, including pupils from The Grove and St John’s ­primary schools in Totnes, and Blackawton Primary School launched the huge party at St Mary’s Church with a song cycle created with Brazilian percussionist and composer Adriano Adewale.

The evening unfolded with acts involving some 400 performers, including Harbottle and Jonas at the Bay Horse Inn, Sea Change at the Barrel House and a Dartington College of Arts alumni takeover at the Guildhall as part of the popular After Dark series – launched by Dartington in 2016 – culminating in the Noisettes gig.

Street performers and buskers, such as the Crooked Samba Band and dancing astronauts from First Line Theatre, added to the party vibe in Fore Street.

Costa Poetry Award-winner poet Alice Oswald led a chorus of community performers and white-faced actors, including a horde of wheeling human crows swooping on spectators, up through the main street in a poem procession that reached a dramatic pyrotechnic conclusion in the Civic Square.

The party was so successful there have now been calls to look at making it a two- or three-day event.

Amy Bere, general manager of the arts, Dartington, said: “What an amazing night. It was great to see so many people out enjoying the vast array of local talent that Party in the Town 2017 brought together.

“We’re now looking forward to the summer. We have up to three concerts each night on the estate in August, including our magical late-night series. Take a look at the line up – there’s some incredible jazz and folk alongside our world-class classical music.”

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