I am always chary of too early a start to Christmas, but it is almost Advent, so it seemed like a good idea to go to a Candlelit Christmas recital that was part of the Worcestershire Shindig rural arts touring programme.
We tipped up at Harvington Village Hall last night knowing little about the performer, Richard Durrant, other than if it has strings, he seems to play it. The barefoot arrival of the performer filled me with deep suspicion of gimmickry and the distinctly non-standard guitar raised eyebrows. The former proved irrelevant (if occasionally distracting on a chilly night!) and the latter produced a gloriously rich sound.
We left knowing more of performer and repertoire, and having enjoyed an eclectic selection of music from an arrangement of Paraguayan harp music to an 11th century setting of a 5th century text, by way of delightful settings of Coventry Carol & the Rocking Carol plus a polar bear encounter…
We are very fortunate in having the Shindig programme in the county, particularly in the current climate. In supporting small, local venues to take on acts they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, it brings the arts to places that wouldn’t otherwise have the range of options, and it enables people to try things they wouldn’t otherwise discover. It also keeps a range of live performance accessible. We’ve seen plays, pantos, revues, classical concerts, multimedia presentations, world music & dance performances, folk, jazz, cabaret….
We have certainly gone to events knowing little of a performer or moved outside our usual cultural comfort zones, knowing that we aren’t risking a fortune. We will happily try out something at village hall pricing where we wouldn’t (or couldn’t afford to) take many risks going to a major city centre venue at four and five times the price plus parking and travel. I can only think of one performance in all the years that we didn’t thoroughly enjoy, so not a bad hit rate!
The audiences are primarily very local, which encourages community engagement, though there are other Shindig groupies like ourselves who go a tad further afield. Although events are usually quite well attended, some well to capacity, I am slightly surprised that more village halls and local venues haven’t taken advantage of this and that it isn’t much better known in the county. Sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are… Long may it continue.