Garden Party at Harlow Museum set to celebrate 70th birthday

Harlow is 70: Why I Came Here / Sat 3rd Jun 2017 at 05:11pm

Party 70

IT’s summer and for Harlow Museum and Harlow Arts Council that means only one thing – it’s time for the annual Art of the Garden Party. Taking place on Sunday 2 July from 1pm – 4.30pm it’s now the fifth year running that CEO of Science Alive Jon O’Connor and his team have welcomed many of the town’s performing arts groups and the local community into the museum gardens for a free afternoon of song, music and dance.

The idea for the afternoon began with Harlow Arts Council’s desire to promote the vibrancy and diversity of arts across the town by providing an opportunity to bring its members to the community without any cost to the audience, making the afternoon truly accessible to everyone. The Museum presented a perfect venue with its beautiful walled gardens, and a unique outdoor environment for the groups to perform in.

This year, as part of Harlow’s 70th anniversary celebrations the afternoon has a bumper crop of the town’s Choirs performing a range of classic and contemporary pieces. Harlow Chorus which is itself celebrating its 40th anniversary of choral singing makes its only outdoor appearance of the year. Also performing will be de Merc Choir whose a cappella repertoire ranges from the 16th century through to contemporary works. 

New Edition will be performing a selection of songs from their recent series of concerts ‘Celebrating Seventy’ whilst Harlow Community Choir bring their range of rock, pop and film soundtracks to the gardens.
The breadth of dance will be highlighted with performances by Harlow Ballet and street dance group Hip Hop Pop.

There will also be Rock with the youngsters from Harlow Rock School, Roll with a display by local gymnastics group Gymkats and plenty of laughter and audience involvement with drama group Razed Roof.

To celebrate the amazing work undertaken by the town’s community groups the Volunteer Centre Harlow will be filling the Community Green with local groups whose energy and commitment are an essential element of the town’s character. Groups include Herts & Essex Community Farm, Hub & Spoke Cycling Group, Harlow Family History Society, St. John’s ARC & British Red Cross.

The Art of the Garden Party is possible thanks to the incredibly kind support of the Big Lottery Fund, Harlow Council, Harlow Arts Council & Harlow Museum.

Local Poet and HAC Chair John Steer, who will be writing a 70th celebration poem especially for the day, summed up the Garden Party ‘It’s an afternoon of sitting back and relaxing in the midst of the Museum Gardens, Harlow’s own oasis of tranquillity. Harlow has embraced the arts throughout its 70 years and the garden party is the ideal time not only to show the amazing talents of our home grown performers but also for the local community to enjoy such a wide range of the arts in one afternoon.’

Sue Wood from the Friends of Harlow Rock School who have appeared every year since it began said:
‘Harlow Rock School enjoy every year coming together with family and friends with a big picnic to enjoy the surrounds, other local talent and the company. It is one of our highlights of the year entering the beautiful wall gardens that brings all ages together in an uplifting relaxed environment. Our young people enjoy playing their music as well as joining in with other community groups performances and relaxing under the trees playing acoustic guitars. All together making it a truly memorable afternoon.’

Jane Fox of de Merc Choir who are making their first appearance at the Garden Party:
“The de Merc Chamber Choir has been involved in the arts in Harlow for many years, becoming members of Harlow Arts Council quite early on and we are delighted to be taking part in the 70th Anniversary celebrations. It brings back memories of the 50th Anniversary in 1997 when our then conductor, the late Adrian Jolliffe, composed an amazing work titled “Harlow 1947” recounting the formation of the new town, the exodus from the East End, and expounding the delights which the town had to offer. De Merc gave its first performance in November of that year in St Mary at Latton Church.

Ten years later, in 2007, to mark the 60th anniversary, we sang the work again, changing the text “50 years ago” to “60 years ago”! (Perhaps we should consider reprising it again, this time singing, “70 years ago.”) Latton has been the home of the choir since it was founded in 1973. We rehearse in the church hall and our name is that of the Norman “de Merc” family whose Manor was in the area now anglicised as “Mark” Hall. The site of the museum was originally the stables of the Manor House.

We are very proud of our involvement with the arts in Harlow and look forward to continuing the association for many years to come.”

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