I was back at the Festival last night, along in Emma Hall, to see and hear Class 16 LIEDER Voice and Pianoforte sessions, Class 18 OPERATIC ARIA Male Voice Open, and Class 23, ARIA FROM OTATORIO OR SACRED WORK (including Bach) Male Voice Open. I’ve had to leave early during the last couple of events, but not last night. It was lovely to catch up with Howard Taylor who used to live around the corner from Mum, and also with his daughter Alison who I haven’t seen for about 40 years. She hasn’t changed one jot. My Mum and Howard are of a similar age, and Mum recalls that when they were children and Howard caught either chicken pox or measles, she lent him her toy farmyard. She is asking if she could have it back please Howard?
I once had aspirations to take part in Ryton Festival you know. I recall being taken to Emma Hall when I was about eleven, and hearing one of the recital categories. I remember young people of a similar age to me reciting poetry, and my realising, with complete conviction, that I could do better than any of them. I loftily informed my mother that I wished to take part the following year. Therefore I was sent for elocution lessons to lady who lived on St. Mary’s Terrace, about half way down. She was a lovely person – can anyone remember what she was called? I raised strenuous objections over having to go to these classes, utterly believing that I had a wonderful speaking voice already, and that sending me here was both superfluous to requirements and a complete waste of money. There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I would be able to stand up in Emmaville Hall, say a few lines, knock spots off everyone, and then sit down to rapturous applause. I was incredulous to learn that this was not a vision shared by all, and my mother did not subscribe to the exalted opinion I had of my abilities. Mindful that I was heading for a fall, she said it was either go to elocution lessons or forget it. Her stance was supported by my father, who would agree to anything that got me out of the house for a couple of hours. I think it took about six weeks for my teacher to decide that I was pretty hopeless, and we parted company by mutual consent. I never got to display my vocal prowess upon the boards of Emma Hall, and for once I have to concede that my mother was right. I was in Braintree last weekend, and I only had to say, “A pint of Stella please,” for the barmaid to instantly discern my Geordie roots. So – if I were to enter now, maybe for Class SR3 Open Class Sight Reading, it’s possible that I might not get very far.
Doris Williams opened last night’s proceedings and Eileen Field was back to adjudicate. The age range of the entrants was a little wider, in that there were one or two slightly older people taking part, but so much talent out there. The three young people in the photograph are John Morris, Sophie Rudge and Lewis Whyte, all from Durham University. Sophie and Lewis were 1st and 2nd respectively in the Class 16 group, the Maud Greener Memorial Trophy. For full details and results see Ryton Festival. Do go along and support the rest of the festival if you can. It is a prestigious event, and we only have it because of a phenomenal amount of unpaid hard work.