SALISBURY opera singer Lynsey Docherty helped give Salisbury Chamber of Commerce’s barbecue an electric start by producing an open air cameo performance.

Docherty, who is organising a new musical festival in the city later in the year, sang Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro to a packed crowd at the Red Lion Hotel in Salisbury.

International baritone Philip Smith then sang Toreador from Carmen and was joined in the chorus by the Riverside Singers and youth choir who, unknown to those attending, had been dotted around the courtyard. Electric was the theme of the event because it was sponsored by Westover Motors, who brought along four of their battery-powered vehicles to give guests a close-up look at the cars that are growing fast in popularity.

Docherty’s Celebrate Voice event will be a seven-day celebration featuring some of the UK’s top professional folk, jazz and opera singers in a host of inspiring concerts.

It will be launched with a massed flashmob-style opening in Salisbury’s Market Place, which she is calling Sing City.

There will also be participatory singing events, outreach per- formances and interactive family concerts.

“I intend to make Salisbury the biggest singing city in the UK by bringing together award-winning professional singers and the local community with a diverse seven-day programme through the October half-term,” she said.

Dame Josephine Barstow, one of Britain’s most celebrated sopranos and patron of the festival, will be giving a live interview with BBC Radio 3 presenter James Jolly during the festival week, discussing her life and career.

The event will also see Mercury Award nominee Sam Lee & Friends flying the flag for folk music and international singers converge for a new production of Die Fledermaus, (sponsored by local independent store Chas H Baker).

Docherty has been overwhelmed by the local business support for the festival.

However, she would still welcome others who would like to give their backing.

n Westover was represented by Sallyann Tanner, an electric vehicle specialist, and Chris Swain, Westover Renault brand manager, who, together with Alan Smith from Renault UK, talked about the myths surrounding electric vehicles and how they are an economic alternative for many of today’s drivers.

The vehicles on show were the Nissan LEAF, which has a range of up to 124 miles on a full charge and the Nissan e-NV200, which comes as a spacious work van or as a five-seat people carrier combi van.

There was also a Renault Zoe – an 100 per cent electric city car, which has a maximum speed of 84 mph.