Arts Festival Bach with a Bang


Photo/ Diliff
Photo/ Diliff

Turl Street has turned the notorious 5th week from a mundane week of depression to a stimulating week of pleasure, laughter and excitement. Turl Street Arts Festival (TSAF) is an annual festival jointly held by the three colleges of Turl Street, Exeter, Jesus and Lincoln. This year it runs from 7th-17th February. The events encompass many areas of art, including film, music, poetry and drama.

Alice Nutting, Exeter’s College Rep in the TSAF committee, said, “TSAF is one of the things that makes the Turl Street Colleges so special. Where else in Oxford will you find a week packed full of music, drama, comedy, photography, poetry and – most importantly – food? It’s a chance for students to show off their creativity,innovation and talent and for everyone else to just have a good time and combat the 5th week blues. The closing night Prohibition Party and Joint Evensong in Exeter’s beautiful chapel are also not to be missed – from what I’ve seen, the Prohibition Party décor is going to be amazing.”

A lot of work was been put into the organization of the festival. “After trekking to every college JCR with stacks of flyers and posters, we’re hoping for a big turnout all round.”

Lincoln’s TSAF rep, Tom Vafidis, added: “Though a bit stressful at times, its been a real pleasure working on the festival this year. It’s a great and rare opportunity for the Turl Street colleges to work together and this year, as ever they have come up trumps with an impressive and diverse array of events including a couple of great plays, comedy and of course the customary plethora of music recitals! I would recommend that everyone take the time to come down and see what we’ve got to offer, there’s something for everyone, and most of the events are free!”

The events are split into the categories of music, arts and happiness – TSAF includes many events that give the best antidote to the blues and bring the students of the three colleges in closer contact. Students were surprised by a Call Me Maybe flashmob on Saturday, which drew attention to the festival and injected a little fun into Turl Street. The welfare tea crawl and hall swap which took place earlier in the week gave students reasons to visit their neighbours across the street and try something new. People relaxed with an evening of comedy in Jesus on Monday and with live music including Penny Arcade and Oxford a capella groups The Gargoyles and The Alternotives in Lincoln’s bar on Tuesday.

The past week has seen some great acts, but there still remain a few highly anticipated events to come.  Below are some of the highlights of the festival.


The festival kicked off last Thursday with the TSAF Launch Night at the Cellar, featuring a DJ set from Los Campesinos! and a variety of live acts. The opening concert on Saturday was an evening of stunningly beautiful music held in Exeter Chapel. Bach’s Cantatas and Purcell’s ‘O Sing Unto the Lord’ were performed under the direction of George de Voil and Maks Adach.

You Maverick!

A drama written by Matt Parvin concerning three Oxford students implicated in a case of plagiarism. An excellent opportunity to see some new writing from Parvin, whose previous plays The Players and A Row of Parked Cars have been highlights of previous Turl Street Arts Festivals.The show runs for four consecutive nights, so grab a ticket for ₤4 to see it before it closes on Friday.

Poetry and Café

For a Valentine’s Day outing with a difference, head to Turl Street’s famed indie espresso bar, The Missing Bean, which  provides great atmosphere on Thursday for an evening of original poetry written by the students of Oxford.

Classical Music in Three Chapels

The week is interspersed with lunchtime recitals of classical music, including cello, string, wind and choral music. These take place in the beautiful setting of the chapels of the three colleges, and even included a free workshop in the little known instrument, the Theremin, on Tuesday. Still to come are Mozart’s Partita on Thursday and a Tuna concert on Friday, which will bring us music from the Hispanic world, both taking place in the intimate surroundings of Lincoln’s chapel. The musical events culminate with the traditional final event of the joint evensong in Exeter Chapel on Sunday, where the combined choir of the three colleges gives us the closing note to the festival.

Jazz Parade 

At midday on Saturday, Turl Street will be alive with the sound of jazz music, as the New Orleans Jazz Band parade through the street and colleges to brighten up the weekend. This will be followed by a jazz workshop with the band, in which anyone can take part and will be shown typical New Orleans techniques for improvisation.

Closing Night: Prohibition Party

Finally, the closing party will bring jazz music from the Prohibition era for a great Saturday evening in Exeter Hall.

For more information about the festival or any of the events mentioned, visit