Greenbelt was launched (33 years ago) as an arts festival – and when I first visited it as a student in the early 1980s, the arts on offer were too far off my own exclusively classical map to appeal…so I missed 20 years of something that could and would have fed my soul.
When we first started attending the Festival again as a family, I was mainly drawn by the speakers - a tremendous range that appeals across the board whether you want theology, social justice or (most often) both.
This year, I did attend some excellent seminars, but spent more of my time elsewhere – above all the Performance Café, where you can hear sets by artists you (well, I at least) would never come across otherwise and enjoy good food and drink at the same time.
So it was that I came to hear and enjoy Lleuwen, Helen J Hicks and Esther Alexander and to meet again Lovers Electric….though I guess my own Perf Café highlight was hearing Maggi perform with In Camera. Time she returned to GB as a singer as well as a speaker, I’d say….
Centaur hosted an amazing classical concert – the work of John Tavener performed in his persence by the Greenbelt Orchestra with the ever stunning Patricia Rozario. I was running late and opened the door from the foyer to hear that amazing voice doing incredible things…and there she was, handed to us on a plate, without any advance publicity that I noticed. Stunning!
But the real excitement for me was really really loving 2 mainstage events – which could not have been more different.
On Friday, with GB07 only hours old, Hugger Steward (off duty after a busy day) and I sat on the grass on a perfect summer evening listening to Kathryn Williams while a hot air balloon drifted lazily overhead. Around us, there was the gentle buzz of happy reunions and a festival waking up. An hour of complete calm and contentment.
On Monday I was part of an excited crowd hearing Duke Special…who produced a stormingly good set. Amazing music. Amazing musician. An all-round incredible performance - my own musical highlight this year.
Thank you Greenbelt – once again you’ve widened my horizons (and extended my wish list alarmingly….but nothing is without cost in this world!)