Music Highlights


The world-famous Philharmonia Orchestra, resident orchestra at Bedford Corn Exchange, comes to Bedford this July and August with The Virtual Orchestra, a free experience for all the family that gives everyone the opportunity to experience a symphony orchestra up-close. A large tent on Riverside Square becomes home to a 10-room installation that showcases the internal workings of the Philharmonia as the orchestra performs Holst’s The Planets, and virtual reality headsets that transport you to a concert hall stage where you can see and hear the orchestra up close in 360-degree virtual reality.

Visitors will have the opportunity to play along with the orchestra’s percussion section, use the Philharmonia’s virtual reality headsets and join a guided tour of the installation led by music specialists, all for free.  In addition, there will be a busy fringe programme with activities ranging from karaoke to coffee mornings put on by local artists and musicians responding to The Virtual Orchestra

The Virtual Orchestra culminates with a live concert with a twist on 10 August 2018 at Bedford Corn Exchange

Jonathan Mayes, the Philharmonia’s Director of Residencies and Regional Programme, said: “We are delighted to bring our flagship project to Bedford this summer. It will give the opportunity for thousands of people to interact with a symphony orchestra in an entirely new way and in a new space for public events.”

Visiting The Virtual Orchestra installation on Riverside Square is free with no ticket or pre-booking required. For further details about booking workshops and concert tickets, and opening and performance times, visit

+ Special guests The Membranes
Thursday 26th July, 7.30pm

Bedford Esquires
Tickets £18 advance

Following a sell-out show back in 2016, Kirk Brandon brings the original post-punk band Theatre Of Hate to Bedford Esquires this July.

In 1980, Kirk Brandon formed Theatre Of Hate from the ashes of heralded punk band The Pack. Their debut double-A-side single, “Legion”/”Original Sin”, topped the independent chart in 1980, and “Westworld”, their debut album, produced by Mick Jones from The Clash and released in 1982, held the number one position for 21 weeks. The single taken from the album, “Do You Believe In The Westworld?” has become an anthem and is still widely played in clubs and on international radio, as well as featuring on numerous compilation albums.

Theatre Of Hate imploded in 1982, with Kirk taking Stan forward to form Spear Of Destiny, but the band has resurfaced over the years to play some very special shows.

Kirk, Stan and John will be joined by current Spear Of Destiny band member Adrian Portas (New Model Army) and Chris Bell (Hugh Cornwall) on drums to pay homage to the iconic TOH sound.

Special guest support come from THE MEMBRANES the highly influential UK underground band. The Membranes recently reformed. In the 80s they developed a dark and discordant and wild music that was at the forefront of the Death To Trad Rock UK underground scene. Fronted by John Robb this is the band first appearance in Bedford for over 25 years.

Tickets priced £18 are on sale now from


The Pad Presents
7.30pm, Thursday 19th July, Bedford Esquires

The Wedding Present play Esquires this month, marking the band’s fourth visit to Bedford (George & Dragon in 1985 & 1986 & Esquires in 1994) this time for a festival warm up show.

Formed in Leeds in 1985 around the lovelorn songwriting of David Gedge, the band soon acquired a reputation for bittersweet, breathtakingly honest songs of heartache immersed in whirlwind guitars — a jangly-yet-brawny sound, played at impossibly breakneck speeds, that was introduced to the world on their debut LP George Best.

NME called the album “an unmitigated delight” and subsequently invited The Wedding Present to contribute a track to the magazine’s C86 compilation — a cassette release that has remained hugely influential upon generations of noisy indie rock bands.

Today, The Wedding Present can be found at the top of their game — their 2016 album Going, Going… having been described as their masterpiece. AllMusic says “It’s hard to deny the brilliance of a band that can crank out an album as passionate, hook-filled and flat-out fiery as this.”


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