By William Telford

Business Editor, Herald


HAMLET’S counsellor Polonius famously advised ‘neither a borrower nor lender be’ – but he never said anything about a business sponsoring a Shakespeare festival.

And so, forsooth, Plymouth’s Suzanne Sparrow Language School is backing the city’s ‘Words & Music Festival’ next year.

And because it is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the festival will be themed around the Bard of Avon.

Dr Suzanne Sparrow, who founded the language school in 1978 and the music festival last year, said she was keen to protect and enhance the use of English.

“We are loosing a lot of our language,” she said. “I’m also trying to bring back the music of the language.”

The festival is masterminded by Simon Ible, director of music at Peninsula Arts.

He’s planning a series of events based around the music Shakespeare used in his plays, and other material influenced by his writings.

It is likely to include concerts and even film showings. “We will put on some concerts that will involve music from the 17th and 18th centuries,” Mr Ible said.

“Music was a very intricate part of the performance in Shakespeare’s plays, and there was also dancing.”

He is working with Plymouth Shakespeare Society and composer Clive Jenkins on producing some new music, basing it around words from The Tempest.

And there are plans to explore the role of music in Shakespeare’s plays, in collaboration with Peter Hinds, associate professor of English at Plymouth University.

“There will also be a competition for students to compose new music to Shakespeare’s words,” Mr Ible added.

“Part of the sponsorship from Suzanne Sparrow Language School will mean she presents the prizes.

“And we’re hoping people around the city will take up the Shakespeare theme and put on events.”

“If it stimulates other creative activities that will be exciting. The Words & Music Festival is run by Peninsula Arts and sponsored by Dr Suzanne Sparrow’s business.

Each year it strives to celebrate the diversity of song styles, last year introducing new songs by Plymouth University student singer-song writers as well as guest professionals.

Each year the festival has a different theme; this year it looked at the relationship between Plymouth and the sea.

Next year’s festival, the third, will be from April 22 to 24.

“Dr Sparrow wants to create new music music and encourage young people,” Mr Ible said.

“She founded this festival and approached me to make it happen.”

Dr Sparrow, added: “It’s grown from something small to something big. Sponsorship of the arts is very important.”


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Simon Ible with Dr Suzanne Sparrow

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