Hay Music began ten years ago, an offshoot of the famous book festival. It was founded by a retired doctor, John Stark, and it was to another distinguished medical person, Professor Mick Peake (known to many from COMA, and Huddersfield Festival, which he chairs) that I talked on an online Q+A. Although there are many blessings from being able to zip just over the Welsh border to Hay in a manner of electronic seconds, I have never been there and would have enjoyed making a physical visit.
Many interesting comments and questions soon came in from our listeners, who showed great sympathy for the plight of musicians, particularly young ones, in the current Covid crisis. We wondered nevertheless if there were any good developments we could take forward from our communal Covid year – or eighteen months as it may well be for performers. For instance, forums like this one. They are great for focused discussion, and as an invited speaker, I find it a calming notion that if listeners get bored or find what I’m doing isn’t for them, they can just switch off and do something more appealing round the house.
During events like these I like to hear ideas about how we could ‘reset’ musical events for the better, once live performances start up again. There was much enthusiasm for wider touring by small groups of musicians to places such as Hay. I just hope this filters through to the public funders, who have conversely seemed so quick to financially shore up London’s behemoth venues and companies. And amen to the person who voted for a one-hour concert format, repeated on the same evening, giving audiences “time for a proper drink afterwards”. Hurrah for the great day when we can go out and do that sort of thing again.
Pictured: concentrated listening by a small audience. (Derick Baegert: Adoration of the Child. Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster.)