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“Isn’t that wonderful?” said an audience member at the end of Handel’s Trumpet Suite in D. Wonderful indeed. An entrancing item in an inspired programme of music presented in Amberley’s St Michael’s Church by world-renowned trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins  along with the Bernardi Music Group.

Handel’s music is a must for a virtuoso of the baroque trumpet like Crispian, who brought along an 18th century trumpet to play it on. He demonstrated how, on such an antique instrument ,which has no valves,  it is possible to insert four- or eight-inch squiggles of brass just below the mouthpiece  to alter its pitch by a half-note. Such a trumpet was regarded as ‘a piece of military hardware’ and was much louder than its modern counterpart. This concert was not only a masterclass in the art of trumpet-playing, it was also a fascinating lesson in the instrument’s history.

Both Andrew Bernardi with his talented quintet of string players and Crispian Steele-Perkins were keen to present the pieces they had chosen to play as the ‘best of British’. And with Jeremiah Clarke’s ‘Trumpet Tunes’, an excerpt from William Walton’s music for Henry V and a haunting piece by Howard Goodall called ‘Shackleton’s Cross’ commemorating the great polar explorer, the concert had a strong sense of place.  But with the ‘Downland’ Suite of John Ireland, who is buried in Shipley churchyard and the sublime ‘Serenade for Strings’ by Edward Elgar, who lived in Fittleworth during his later years, there was a strong ‘Best of Sussex’ theme also running through the works.

During the interval, concertgoers enjoyed tempting home-made canapes as well as  a glass or two of delicious Nyetimber sparkling wine, kindly donated by the prize-winning winemakers. Nyetimber were one of the main sponsors of the concert,  along with Fowlers Estate Agents, the John Booth Charitable Trust and Mary and Guy Leonard.  Gary Shipton DL introduced and compered the occasion.

This much-anticipated concert happened on Saturday, 13th July as part of the acclaimed Shipley Festival and it was the final fundraiser in a three-year programme of events arranged by Amberley’s ACTnow Team who have raised over £226,000 to restore the ancient stone and woodwork in St Michael’s church tower. Major grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and five other bodies contributed the lion’s share. “But We would not be where we are without local community support for over 40 varied events which we have held,” says ACTnow  Team’s Val Galbraith. “Along with donations, we have raised well over £50,000 from the community.

What a winner! “Magical!” said another audience member.