WYCOMBE Arts Festival is celebrating its 50th year and starts this weekend.

The festival started in 1964 and since then a group of volunteers has presented a variety of professional and amateur events with contributions from clubs and societies in High Wycombe and Marlow.

It continues until June and offers a wide range of the arts, both amateur and professional, with the aim of organisers to embrace and engage all members of the community.

There are art exhibitions, talks, musicals concerts, drama and guided walks.

The opening concert is on Saturday at 7.30pm with the High Wycombe Choral Society, accompanied by the West Forest Sinfonia and conducted by Stephen Armstrong.

The programme will include Missa Brevis in B Flat K.275 (Mozart); Vaughan-Williams' Oboe Concerto with soloist Nicola Hands; Missa Brevis in D K.194 (Mozart) and Mass in C (Schubert).

Tickets are £12 to £14 on www.hwcs.org.uk or at the door.

Also on Saturday High Wycombe Music Centre's talented students present an evening of wind chamber music at 6pm at St Andrew's Church in Hatters Lane, High Wycombe.

Tickets are £5 and £2.50 concessions.

On Sunday an afternoon of tea and celebrations for Lorna Cassidy and Wycombe Arts Festival 50th anniversary takes place in the High Wycombe Museum gardens in Priory Avenue with music and drama from 2 to 4.30pm. All welcome and there is no charge.

On April 30 there will be an illustrated talk by Stewart Linford about Winston Churchill's early years, including his involvement in the First World War, at 8pm at the Church House, next to Hughenden Church, in Hughenden Park. Tickets are £8 and also on the door.

On May 1 at 6pm at room N2.06 at Bucks New Uni there is a talk by Cally Trench about Paul Stevenson- one of the greatest talents to emerge from the teaching staff at BNU. Admission is free.

And also on Thursday at 7.30pm The RGS Summer Concert takes place, given by the young musicians of the RGS, directed by Tim Venvell. Programme to include concertino in E flat for trombones and orchestra by Ferdinand David with James Venvell on trombone, and Rhapsody in Blye by George Gershwin with Tom Noyes on piano. Tickets £6, concessions £3 on 01494 551 433 or www.rgshw.com.

These are just the events in the first week, but they run until June 1. Be sure to check out what else is on.

Go to http://www.wycombeartsfestival.org/ or pick up a leaflet from around the town.

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