The Swaledale Festival finished on 10th June. Our unique local festival offers an eclectic mix of music, from Medieval to 21st century compositions, and across all genres, classical, jazz, folk and world music. Add in guided walks in the beautiful countryside, talks and exhibitions, to make a feast of the arts packed into a fortnight. The concerts take place in beautiful churches in Swaledale and Wensleydale, and comprise one hour’s duration intimate afternoon concerts, and full length evening concerts, making two concerts daily. I spent a lot of time driving between venues during the fortnight!

The Festival aims to bring the “big names” along with respected musicians at the top of their field, local musicians and a young artists’ platform. Often, there is an unusual instrument(s) featured in a concert. Many of the musicians perform concerts in local care homes, bringing top quality live music to those who cannot travel to the venues. Schools are also visited, giving children a much needed taste of live music, and the chance to meet the instruments, especially “endangered” instruments. These are the likes of the bassoon, bass trombone, tuba, oboe and the harp, which too few young people are learning. The knock on effect is that orchestras may be struggling to find enough players in the future to perform the rich repertoire of classical and film music.

In 2022, the Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary. It has gone from strength to strength to its present successful format under director Malcolm Creese. However, it relies heavily on volunteers and sponsors to provide financial and practical support. With this extra input, the Festival remains exciting and innovative while keeping ticket prices very reasonable. People come from far and wide, often combining a holiday with the Festival. I have sat next to Europeans, Americans, Canadians, as well as people from around the UK. In following posts I will write about the concerts I attended.