Prideaux Place, Padstow
The 2009 Padstow Arts Festival
Artistic Director - Matthew Taylor/Producer – Edward Clark
The Festival Producer, Edward Clark, writes "This first attempt at placing focus on two great 20th century communicators was a resounding success. There is no evidence that they ever met despite the close proximity of their houses in the area. But the festival was able to explore the similarities of their artistic aims, notably a wish to produce work that generates a positive response from ordinary people, who would generally avoid "high" art. Evidence of this came in a number of ways during the festival.
On a rainy morning on Padstow quay the Mount Charles Band played the famous ‘Padstow Lifeboat March’. The immediate effect was to bring smiles to the faces of the bedraggled crowd! This ability to bring a little joy into the lives of everyone is precious. It also pertains to Sir John, with his numerous humorous poems. This side to his character was explored by Cornish-born, former opera star Benjamin Luxon in his recitation of Betjeman's poetry, from the early works to the later attempts at communicating his love for Cornwall, our heritage and simple human relationships.
The festival also demonstrated the darker aspects to the life-enhancing artistic credos of Arnold and Betjeman.
Benjamin Luxon chose a few of the altogether more sinister poems by Betjeman that dwell on human frailty. Likewise the Salieri String Quartet performed the ‘String Quartet No 2’ by Arnold, one of his towering masterworks, quite different from the warm expressions we hear in the "popular" side of this composer’s work.
Another strength of this festival of poetry and music, was that many of the lesser known works were here given the opportunity to be heard – and experienced - in idyllic surroundings
Malcolm Arnold's ‘Laudate Dominum’ was sung by the Truro Cathedral Choir and fully lived up to expectations in showing Arnold’s particular flair for throwing new light on familiar text.
We hope to continue exploring the art of Malcolm Arnold and John Betjeman next year. If everyone's kind support is maintained this could become an annual event, showing how a popular seaside town such as Padstow can play host to the work of two great 20th century English creative spirits."
Edward Clark, 9th October 2009
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