Classical Music Picks

Our Classical Music columnist Liz Leatherdale, founder and owner of Colchester Classics, brings you her pick of July’s Classical Music events in, and around, Colchester.

July 2015

This month hear the Colchester Symphony Orchestra under Chris Phelps perform an important early Romantic work: Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique or Fantastic Symphony. This was the first music to use over 90 orchestral players and history suggests Berlioz may have written some of the music under the influence of opium. Berlioz’s gentler masterpiece the song-cycle Les Nuits d’Ete with soprano soloist Verica Grmusa and the orchestral  Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, without doubt Debussy’s most famous work, will be performed at 7.30pm on Saturday 11 July 2015 in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £14 (01206 271128)


On 4 July the Hervey Benham Young Soloists concert offers some of our gifted local musicians the opportunity to perform with an orchestra. Soloists include Sam Marde (Organ), Kerenza Newcombe (trumpet) and Zachary Kleanthous (tenor). Zachary, a former pupil of Colchester Royal Grammar School, starts a chorister scholarship at Chelmsford Cathedral in September. St Botolph’s Music Society Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Abbott.Tickets: Saturday 4 July 2015 in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester at 7.30pm.

Tickets £12.50


The Harwich Festival ends on Sunday 5 July 2015 with the Royal College of Music  Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir performing exhilarating period favourites such as Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, Purcell’s ‘Come Ye sons of Art’ and Handel’s Zadok the Priest. Sunday 5 July at 6.30pm, St Nicholas Church, Harwich.

Tickets: £12.00


The weekend of 3 – 5 July, the Roman River Festival has its first mini-festival: a Schubertiade with three concerts, bringing James Gilchrist and other distinguished musicians to the idyllic villages of Wivenhoe, Boxted and Fingringhoe.

Tickets: £15. Telephone (01206 729356 for details on both the mini and also main festival)


Colchester Town Hall’s majestic Edwardian organ in the magnificent setting of the Moot Hall has been recently renovated to its former glory. This month sees the launch of Organ Fest on Tuesday 21 July with a concert by Gillian Ward-Russell and the following week a concert by Colchester’s Borough Organist, Ian Ray.


The Thaxted Festival is held each summer in the magnificent setting of the church at the heart of this small medieval town. The festival includes concerts by Red Priest, the wild and extraordinary interpreters of Baroque and early music, a family concert with the Brandenburg Sinfonia and closes on July 12 with Tenebrae performing some beautiful choral works from Allegri to John Tavener.

Telephone: (01371 831421)


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Liz Leatherdale

Liz Leatherdale




The Appetite Book Club

For almost ten years Jo Coldwell has run the Appetite Book Club in Colchester. Jo introduces us to the club and discusses one of the books they have read.

Appetite Book Club
We are an informal book club, meeting monthly in Colchester on the last Wednesday evening of the month to discuss a book over supper and wine. The idea is that you read the book before you turn up. PRE BOOKING and PRE PAYMENT IS ESSENTIAL and the evening includes a two-course supper and a glass of wine at a local, independently owned cafe .

People are encouraged to come on their own or in a group… either way I split people into groups so that there are no cliques and everybody is made to feel equal. Each month between 40 and 70 people meet.

On arrival everybody mingles at the bar with a glass of wine… the wine helps to loosen the tongue. We then sit down to eat at tables of four, which means that any book chat is always in a small and intimate group and is less intimidating! Between main course and pudding we all change around to a different table.  This keeps the conversation fresh and means we meet new people all the time.

We started in 2007 at the now closed Cafe/Bar APPETITE and moved to THE OLD COURT HOUSE who have fully embraced the club and even provided curry and buying balti dishes when we read Q&A (a.k.a Slumdog Millionaire)!

Generally we choose fiction, but one month we discussed the remarkable war diaries of a courageous and beautiful, young Vietnamese doctor ‘LAST NIGHT I DREAMED OF PEACE: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram’

Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace

The background to this choice came about when a friend, Bill Hayton (based in Colchester), offered to come to book club and talk about his time as a BBC correspondent living in Vietnam.  This coincided with the release of his own book VIETNAM: RISING DRAGON – well reviewed by The Spectator, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Irish Times – which called it a “fascinating primer … a cleverly pitched book, one that will appeal equally to a businessman or investor… an old Asia hand, or an inquisitive backpacker”. Bill however modestly swerved us away from his own book and suggested ‘PARADISE OF THE BLIND’ by Duong Thu Huong, which was banned in its own country; the first novel from Vietnam ever published in the USA.

Vietnam Rising Dragon

Paradise of the Blind

With a large selection of people meeting at book club I like to ensure that we can access the book in different ways, the cheapest being the library, and the best being the one to give you a warm glow of local loveliness –  the independent RED LION BOOKS. On further investigation Essex Libraries only had 0ne copy and I felt it unfair to narrow our options. RED LION BOOKS recommended some others; LAST NIGHT I DREAMED OF PEACE being one of them.  Captivated by the beautiful title, we went for this.

Lots of our group loved the book.  It was historical, poignant and illuminating.  For me, reading a diary can feel disjointed and interrupts the literary flow. There can be sharp stabs of emotion scattered with gaping holes. With this book there is literally a whole chunk missing where Than lost a large section of her diary during a bomb raid.   Reading a female and medical account of this notorious war, was however, a gem, and throughout I was acutely aware of Than’s innocence through her description of unrequited love, which was as poignant as her despair of war. As a young girl she was not concerned with military minutia but more about the emotional morale of her people.

Book club led to a debate on diary writing generally.  We have all read purpose written diaries, destined for publication – which despite being in diary form have structure and rhythm (Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones spring to mind). A diary like Than’s, written as a personal memoir and published in its rawest form, oozes credibility, but it also becomes the victim of monotony. The footnotes and preface lifted the mood, giving another dimension and making it a relevant read. We learn from these notes that Tram’s diary, when found after her death, was no bigger than a cigarette case, handwritten and sewn together. Other notes give an articulate chronology of the war, reminding us of the humanity of this young girl who desperately wanted to channel her compassion into the Party she believed in.  It is interesting how the Party rebuff her offers initially as they are suspicious of her ‘bourgeois tendencies’.

I’m pleased we discussed this diary but my preference would be to now read Bill‘s book, which is not in a diary format and is written about the future of this incredible country. A country which is still heavily linked with images of the horrific war they endured.  RISING DRAGON will appeal to a more optimistic reader, inquisitive about confronting the current issues facing Vietnam and the future choices it has to make.

I don’t think we will rush to read another diary for a while but I’m pleased for the discussions it created.

Best wishes and happy reading, Jo.

Jo Coldwell

Jo Coldwell

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

JURASSIC WORLD, much like its terrifying central monster threat, is a bit of a strange beast pulling its DNA from a variety of sources. Fortunately none of it appears to have been extracted and transposed from a turkey: When it’s good, it’s very, very good, when it’s not it’s okay, just a bit silly and at worst a bit slow; unfortunately it’s good only about 40% of the time.

Set some 22 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park (JW never mentions or references the other two sequels, and I’m pretty much happy go along with that) Jurassic World is the dream of John Hammond made real: Isla Nublar has been open for 10 and years attracts thousands of visitors every day to bask in its resurrected dinosaur attractions. Unfortunately, the park has now been open long enough for dinosaurs to (according to those most dreaded of things: Focus groups) become a bit passé, leading to the decision to create a new scarier, more aggressive attraction from the DNA of various other dinosaurs and creatures. Obviously, creating this new iDinosaur is a bad idea, a bad idea that has horrific results when it inevitably escapes and goes on the rampage, as Jeff Goldblum’s (sadly missed) character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, would have it, “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”

The lead actors are appealing enough and keep just this side of being cardboard, although it would be a real push to actually describe any of them as fully rounded. Chris Pratt, so likeable in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, plays ex-Navy man Owen Grady seconded to the park to wrangle velociraptors (yeah, that’s never satisfactorily explained, so don’t ask me), but basically he’s Doug McClure: mildly cheeky but stoic and always, always right. Bryce Dallas Howard plays JW Director of Operations, a career woman with no time for relationships or family who… well, you can guess where her arc is heading, especially when she and Pratt have to race toward the oncoming danger in order to rescue her nephews, dumped on her by their divorcing parents and lost somewhere in the park.

Jurassic World

Irrfan Khan turns up as the park owner who flip-flops between running Jurassic World for the benefit of science, the animals and profit and whose fate is pretty much laid out the first time we meet his character. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the unnecessary bad guy who actually isn’t that bad at all and whose arc could have been excised completely and nobody would notice.

But it’s in the action scenes that JURASSIC WORLD excels. Director Colin Trevorrow harks back to Spielberg’s original, using many of the same action beats and conceits to create an exciting and sweaty palmed thrill ride. The iRex escape is especially good, I say “Good”, I mean terrifying, the pacing is terrific and there is a sense of awe as everything drops into place (I should just say that this is probably the scene which will upset younger viewers the most, it’s a 12A certificate and I would say it’s the upper end of 12A). The final action sequence turns into a Battle Royale of dino’ badasses which is fun but not quite as fist-pumpingly good as you would hope, not like that moment the T-Rex turns up at the end of the original.

Occasionally the film tries to be a bit “Meta”, working as a critique of itself and the whole blockbuster/Summer tent-pole phenomenon (for instance, it’s no coincidence that the Mosasaur is fed with a Great White Shark), it’s a bit obvious and doesn’t really cut it on that level for me. It also tries to say something about the way we interact with experiences, through the screens on our phones rather than face to face somewhat more successfully, but that’s just a throwaway aside, a clever observation but, again, unnecessary.

There’s plenty of fun to be had in JURASSIC WORLD, just a little more of it would have been nice. It’s not Jurassic Park but, by the same token, neither is it The Lost World or JPIII, thank goodness.

Check out the showtimes and even book your Odeon seats online.


Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

Tea & Sympathy – Grimm Tales of Funk

At Colchester 101 we love to hear about, and support, new, unique, and interesting events, so when Tea & Sympathy told us about their ‘Imaginative, Decadent & Unique’ pop up themed parties that they throw every six weeks or so around Colchester we wanted to know all about them. Melissa Porter and Jo Coldwell, the imagineers behind Tea & Sympathy, tell us more.

Tea & Sympathy

Two friends opened Tea & Sympathy in Crouch Street in 2012 as a one year pop up adventure. The most exciting thing that seemed to evolve during our time in the shop were the themed parties after we closed up for the day. We wanted to create an experience, not just a place to have a drink with friends. We wanted people to stumble across secret rooms where you could have your Tarot cards read by a mysterious woman in black, discover a hidden room where you find yourself at the centre of an immersive theatre experience, be invited to watch a Fire Performance in the secret garden, drink one or two Cocktails and dance with new found friends to some fabulous tunes.

Tea & Sympathy Reading

Tea & Sympathy

We left Crouch Street in September 2013 with a whole load of new friends and a little tear in our eye. We knew that we wanted to continue with the parties, we still had so many themes that we wanted to explore. Since then we have gone all Nautical on the Red Lighthouse Boat at The Hythe Quay, danced our socks off at a Northern Soul inspired night at St Martins Church, channelled our inner Mia Wallace at ‘A Little Bit Quentin’ – a Tarantino night at the Colchester Arts Centre. We’ve created our own little worlds themed around Alice in Wonderland, Narnia – Winter Wonderland, Acid House, Moulin Rouge, Tim Burton Ghost Ship, Dirty Pop, The Night Circus, Lucha Libre and The Great Gatsby to name a few!

Tea & Sympathy
On Saturday 6th June Tea & Sympathy wish to entice you into the inky pages of The Brothers Grimm we invite you to explore the Lighthouse Ship, Hythe Quay from 8pm-1am for …


You enter the ships Main Bar, frozen in time and overgrown with bindweed. This is the festering heart of the witches domain. But fear not, for that vaudevillian psychobillie ‘DJ Lloyd’ will hold the fell spirits at bay with his blend of FUNK & DISCO from bygone eras and forgotten lands.

Follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the witches’ lair where we entice you with potions and brews from Tea & Sympathy’s lavish Jam Jar Cocktail Menu.

Follow the ugly sisters into the depths of the dark forest, where magic and mystery await.

Understar delights and performances from;

Fyreflies & Holly High Heels from Helles Belles Burlesque

Food by Red Pig Chorizo Co.

Dress: Anything Grimm inspired

Tea & Sympathy

Tea & Sympathy

Tickets are just £10. Email for your paperless ticket in advance. We operate a cash only bar, tickets will also be available on the door, email your names for the guest list to guarantee entry.

For more information check out the Tea & Sympathy Facebook Book page.

Tea & Sympathy

We hope to meet you there.

Jo and Melissa

Jo and Melissa

An Affair with The Affair

Affair Club

Of all the bars and clubs that have come and gone in Colchester over the years including, to name just a few, the Windmill, the Andromeda, L’Aristos and the Colne Lodge, one that is still remembered equally fondly by many is the former Affair Club on the corner of Culver Street East and Queen Street. Its former home, a rather grand looking red brick building, is now a branch of Italian chain restaurant Prezzo and when I pass it I often wonder how many of their customers realise that the restaurant’s basement, now home to the kitchen, stockroom and toilets, was once the coolest, and cosiest, nightclub in town.

My own affair with the Affair began the summer I left school when, one Monday evening, a friend and I plucked up the courage to venture down into this subterranean world that we’d been so desperate to visit since we’d heard as kids that the Radio Caroline DJs used to make a beeline for it when they came ashore at Harwich. With two years added to our dates of birth, and our pretend birthdays memorised to tell ‘Big Jill’ on the door if she asked when we were born, we were finally in and heading down the narrow stairs, with their red brick walls and arched ceiling, into this exciting new world where we enjoyed our first few under-age pints of Skol lager while sounds from the likes of Soft Cell, Human League and Duran Duran filled the air.

We continued this for the next three or four years as Monday night regulars, miraculously during our first couple of years managing to dodge the occasional Monday night police raids to catch us under-age drinkers, with the occasional Friday or Saturday night visits in-between to mingle with the weekend crowd, nights which offered live music too. Our spot down there was usually in the corner at the end of the long bar, but we’d hit the dance floor behind the arches the moment the likes of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ or Heaven 17’s ‘Temptation’ came on.

There was always a great crowd at the Affair, from the more colourful punks to New Romantics and all points in between. I’m sure there may have been the occasional incident, but I personally never witnessed any trouble, and nobody ever seemed out to prove themselves, except with their hair, clothing and make up, and of course on the dance floor. Everyone mixed well and many new friendships were formed.

This amazing video dating from 1984 was kindly sent to me by Stephen Munson and is a magical look back to a time, and a nightclub, that is long gone, but not forgotten. How many faces to you recognise?

Stephen, whose band Living in Texas were playing that evening, now lives in Paris where he manages and performs with French singer Swann. He has fond memories of the Affair Club:

“I think the video was made by Anton Rapley’s dad, a Wivenhoe man. Anton was the band’s tour manager for quite a few European tours. He was also the drummer for a great band called the Bugs and a very well-known Colchester teddy boy. It’s Chris’s sound system and the opening spot was a poetry reading rant from Colchester student Paul Kennedy. What I loved about the Affair club was it was a club for everyone.  I’m wondering whether my first experiences were back in 1974 or 5… when it was strictly basket meals, port and lemon and hot-down disco… I only got in (so young ) because I worked at the Andromeda. I remember you had to be a member but no-one ever used to remember to bring their cards. I think my best night ever there was falling in love with Tania Bryant all over again. (1976 or 77) It was a really regular place to go for me on a Friday night (always a Friday ) from the mid to the end of the 70s, and of course, from time to time in the 80s, though I spent much of that time in London. Tuesday night was the Windmill. Friday or Saturday was the Copdock, or the Tartan House, or the Affair, depending on who I was going out with… haha! Would miss all the clubs for a good gig at the Uni, the Tech or Woods… and as the 70s ended it was the Lyceum or the Venue or some such exotic place. The Affair was a great example of a great provincial nightclub… a place to go until 2 in the morning… always great music, great dark corners for doing what young people do when the world didn’t need dating agencies and you rarely went home alone.”

Carl Seager, who you can spot in the video at 1:35 and who also now lives in France, remembers the Affair, and Colchester’s music scene at the time:

“Colchester has always had a great musical heritage. Always mixed it up and encouraged different genres to listen to each other. One week we’d be playing Rock with the Linton Band or Flying Heroes, next week we’d be rubbing shoulders with the New Romantics, Punks… you name it. The Affair was right up there and helped set the trend which still carries on in Colchester today. Great music scene as always, ably carried on by the likes of Ben’s (Howard) events, Jamie’s Cosmic Puffin, Dave’s gigs at The Bull… and so many other organizers and venues in and around the town. Bloomin’ wonderful stuff and long may it continue.”

Corroll Beales, one of Colchester’s very first punks (2:29) in her Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt also recalls:

“The Affair club was a place during the 80’s that myself and friends from Colchester used to go to see local bands play. Some of the members of the bands were friends, or they became friends through going to see them.  What I liked about it, even though it was a rather small club, was that we all knew each from around Colchester, or became friends rather quickly with each other. The bands were great and although I was into Punk at that time I still used to go and see the other bands play that weren’t necessarily of that scene.”

All good things come to an end, and eventually the Affair closed and stood empty for many years before it was eventually converted into a chain restaurant. A few months ago I was back in the building for a college reunion, my first visit since the 80s, and took these pictures downstairs of what remains of the old club. It was rather weird making my way down those familiar stairs for the first time in three decades, and it was wishful thinking to expect the club to be there at the bottom exactly as I remember it. The bar has disappeared, swallowed up by the new kitchen and toilets, but peeping through a door built into a new wall that now cuts across the basement I saw that beyond it time really has stood still save for the addition of some white emulsion over the once bare brickwork. The familiar arches that we used to stand around are still there, and beyond them the dance floor remains very much intact, these days though instead of playing host to the latest tunes it is a storeroom. It was wonderful to see that whilst some of it may be lost, the old club is still down there in some form, and I’m sure if you listen carefully when the restaurant upstairs has closed for the night you might still be able to faintly hear the musical soundtrack, along with the chatter and laughter, of generations gone by.

The Stairs - virtually unchanged in 30 years
The Stairs – virtually unchanged in 30 years


The dance floor is now a store room. The wall is the far wall that runs parallel with Queen Street
The wall is the rear wall of the dance floor that runs parallel with Queen Street


The dance floor now a storeroom
Looking through one of the arches at the dance floor which is now a storeroom. The little room where the DJs worked would have been behind the boxes to the right



Simon Crow
Simon is the owner of Media48, sponsors of Colchester 101