Music and Friendship

The wonderful combination of music and friendship has been the hallmark of this week.

Our Grand Union Community Choir social was held to mark the end of term. We were hosted by two of the choir members in their beautiful garden, which, as well as well tended flower beds, features a narrow gauge railway with newly constructed bridge over a pond. We enjoyed conversation, food and singing. The singing was fun but also challenging when we had to combine dance movements with the words. 

Friends came from the Northeast to stay with us for the annual Folk by the Oak folk festival at Hatfield House. We had glorious weather and a wonderful range of music. Karine Polwart, a Scottish singer-songwriter, gave us a great start. Each year there is a commission to produce new music by a group of folk artistes. This year the theme was based on a book, The Lost Words: Spell Songs, by Jackie Morris and Robert McFarlane, which has both images and words. During the performance of one the pieces Jackie painted live on the screen, the resulting image was a delightful pair of otters.

On the smaller Acorn Stage there are often young performers, one was Brighde Chaimbeul playing Gaelic pipes, accompanied by Aidan O’Rourke. But for me the highlight was Grace Petrie, a vibrant singer-songwriter of protest songs. She lambasted Conservative policies of austerity and bigotry in any of its forms. With strong language in all senses, she sang of equality and justice. She had a strong fan base present, and I couldn’t help but think what a Quaker she would make. 

Headlining on the main stage was Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Known more for his punk indie style nevertheless Frank’s songs carried a strong ethical punch, as illustrated by the title of his latest album, Be More Kind.

Making music and listening to creative musicians in the company of friends is a joyful way to spend summer days. 

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