Friends Meeting House was the setting for the ArtBeat Family Day, comprising various activities. In one of the rooms a guy was taking amazing lo-tech portraits with an Afghan box camera and showing how it worked. Under a gazebo offering protection from the steady drizzle there was an art workshop for 9-12 year-olds who were shown how to paint flowers on shapes created from plastic bottles and sticking them against acetate screens to give a lovely contrasting effect against the green of the garden. Contrast was the name of the game in the Open Mic workshop that included a young and dynamic lads’ rock band and two very young and talented solo violinists playing with great control and assurance. I left just before people were swinging into the second of two energetic ceilidhs led by Steve Cartwright and Nikki Fiddler. It was great to see different generations dancing together, very much a feature of the ceilidh experience.
Polly Tuckett led a writing workshop for 7s to 11s. Half a dozen children participated, and each completed a fairy story within the hour. After introductions and a tipsy turvy example of a fairy story, the children explored what fairy stories have in common including usually a moral and something magical. Polly distributed envelopes with slips of paper with different missions, main characters, baddies, and magical elements and the children set to – discussing in groups, writing and finally dictating their stories. We had a creation story, involving travelling men and a beanstalk, submarines with bubbles, unicorns aplenty, and elephants dipping their trunks into an evil king’s bag to return money stolen from a mermaid and merman. Each of the six stories was read and taken home by the children with ideas for more stories to write when they got there. Magic!
Taster classes in dances of various styles were on offer at Avenue Primary School throughout the day and each was well attended. A fun Zumba taster session, was followed by an excellent Tango taster class and practica and in the afternoon about 30 people enjoyed a very well run Ceroc session. Congratulations to the organisers for providing such a range. Perhaps you will see some of those who took part strutting their stuff at the Latino dance night at Cultura on Sunday evening.
An estimated 50 people – of all ages which was a particular delight – heard Mariko Terashi (piano) and Anne-Marie Shaw (viola) play a superb and very well-received programme on Saturday lunchtime. Christchurch is such a good venue for these events: central, accessible, with the Worship Centre being a lovely space with a marvellous acoustic. A rich programme introduced many to the Portuguese composer Seixas and finished with a virtuoso piece by Chopin. In between, Anne Marie played Ravel and Schubert with great expression, accompanied by Mariko. A truly delightful 50 minutes in exceptional surroundings.
Afterwards it was Classical Open Mic time, starting with six of Mariko’s younger piano students taking their turn and ending with Becky Stickland playing a piece each by Beethoven and Chopin. They were followed by French Romantic songs sung by Polly Tuckett and German lieder by David Toseland both with lovely tone, and accompanied skilfully by Mariko and Emily Turfus respectively. Jonathan Speiser showed his virtuosity and class at the age of twelve on the piano and violin, Nicola Mirams playing the flute with lovely tone and lightness of touch. The whole event was brought to an end with a flourish, with a horn tone poem about the river Trent and two cello pieces. While the afternoon’s audience was as expected smaller, it seemed no less appreciative. The high standard of all these performances showed what a wealth of musical talent there is within the square mile.
There was a huge turn-out of over 70 people for the walking tour led by Richard Gill who offered fascinating insights into the aesthetics and history of the buildings in Clarendon Park. Fortunately by this time the rain had stopped and the sun appeared, lifting everyone’s spirits. Not only did those taking part ask questions but they shared information as well – a truly co-operative and enjoyable learning experience. What an appetite there is for this kind of thing!
At the Summer Harmony evening concert in Stoneygate Baptist Church Hall Carol confessed to having been to all three of the taster dance classes earlier in the day. And Malcolm, another happy concert-goer, was heard to say the programme was wonderful “just like the Edinburgh festival and all free”.
Congratulations to Rockhaq and Costa Coffee on a successful partnership in innovation, launching the festival’s first workshop in music journalism targeted at teenagers. Eight young people, four students from Leicester College and four from QE sixth form college, turned out to learn how to blog music reviews. After a few teething problems hooking up to the wi-fi, the workshop ran well. Some of the young people are considering a project that makes use of music journalism as part of their course in music performance. Others are considering how blogging could be part of a career in music journalism. The session was really positive, inspiring them to write reviews and blog them on the Rockhaq website. And take a bow Costas for coming up with some really fine cakes to maintain good energy levels throughout.
Before ending, a special mention for Oscar from Thurnby (and Leicester College) who came over to Queens Road ten days ago on Friday evening to busk outside Fingerprints in the rain as part of the promotion of the festival. Undeterred he returned today with three friends to busk at various vantage points along the Queens Road. The weather was kinder and inspired some good sounds driven by a compelling beat. I hope he’ll be back.