Hastings International Music Festival presents a one-of-a-kind Musical Evening celebrating the life of their beloved former chairman, Molly Townson (1943-2019). Molly was an inspiration to several generations of singers and performers, and this is our chance to remember her, and her musical life, joyfully together.
This gala evening will honour every aspect of Molly’s musical life, from her own singing to her subsequent career as a singing teacher, with special focus on her long association with the Hastings Musical Festival and the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. As such, we welcome back previous Festival winners who have gone on to successful careers as performers, including Molly’s daughters, singers MELANIE STACE and EMMA STACE. We also welcome performances from MIWAKO MIKI and FRANK WIBAUT, prize winner and former Artistic Director respectively of Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. There will also be contributions from the various performing groups with which she was associated, including SOIREE, her touring Edwardian musical entertainment, and CANTABILE, her choir, with choreography by PAULINE ASH of Laton Ash Dance Centre. And all this, under the watchful eye of PETULA CLARK CBE, President of HIMF.
The evening will also feature performances and appearances from famous friends in the wider world of music, including SHIRLEY COLLINS MBE, the Hastings-born Queen of English Folk Song (and former Festival judge), and IAN KEAREY (The Oyster Band and The Blue Aeroplanes); celebrated composer, double bassist and former classmate GAVIN BRYARS (who wrote the last songs Molly sang in public); and composer ERROLLYN WALLEN MBE, ‘the renaissance woman of contemporary British music’ (The Observer) and formal resident and Festival competitor. The celebration will be compèred by Molly’s son, WESLEY STACE AKA JOHN WESLEY HARDING, whose show Cabinet of Wonders is a longtime fixture in New York City, and who recently released an album featuring duets with Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed.
All proceeds will go to the Molly Townson Bursary Fund, for young people intending to pursue a career in the performing arts.