The August 2014 issue of the Gargrave Parish Magazine is now available on its web site...
Click on the cover image and you will get into the pdf of the magazine.
On pages 10-11 you will see a little account of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014, written by me. As usual with these things, I was contacted on the Friday evening, and told that the deadline was Saturday morning. I did my best...
FROM the Gargrave Parish Magazine, August 2014
The Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014, Friday June 27 Saturday June 28 & Sunday June 29,
The Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014 slotted in neatly after the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2013, which laid the ground rules. The strong argument for 2014 was that, this year, we and the autoharp could be part of the Yorkshire Festival, the programme of cultural events leading up to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. That all worked - we were very visible on the Yorkshire Festival web site and in the media, we were supported by Mike Harding, England's folk music guru. And wasn't the Tour de France great fun?
The good things about holding the Autoharp Festival in Gargrave were even better in 2014. Again we had the support of Sally Thomas and her team at the Village Hall -and we thank them, especially for the way the volunteers waded in again and again when they could see that we were overstretched. And, as the Fable of the Autoharp shows, Gargrave is now the place in England where everyone knows what an autoharp looks like - and how it sounds. And we had local support - witness the charming models on our poster, from Jaki Prescott's dance school, and the charming illustrations to the Fable of the Autoharp from Alan Poxon's art group.
In the Village Hall on the Saturday we had our programme of classes and demonstrations - this year we attracted new players from the North of England. As was the plan. We had our lovely concert on the Saturday evening, which included Gargrave favourites from 2013, Mike Fenton and Guy Padfield. Everyone commented that Guy Padfield had become a much more confident and skilled musician since last year. The special guest at the concert was Patrick Couton - in the year of the Tour de France our own star from France. Wonderful music. Patrick Couton's travel expenses were covered by local boaters, the East Lancashire and West Yorkshire Boat Club.
The members of the Boat Club have asked me to say that this is their way of thanking Gargrave for all the work that goes into keeping the towpath and the canal clean and tidy.
And on the Sunday we had our Autoharp Service - special thanks to Michael Bland, who led the service, and to Sue Watkiss, the organist, who found ways to bring into the church service the music of Nadine White, Scotland's autoharp guru. I want to especially mention the support of Kev and Amy, Kevan Lawson and Amy Dalgleish, the new team at The Old Swan, Gargrave's lovely old coaching inn. I don't want anybody to feel left out, but... Some of the best music of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014 took place in the Swan - as the professionals and the amateurs relaxed. Witness a musical duel between John McNally, a guitarist who understands the autoharp, and Patrick Couton, an autoharper who understands the guitar. On the Sunday evening about a dozen survivors gathered in the snug of the Swan, for a last informal session - music has been played in that snug for over two hundred years. In that snug, Robert Story, Gargrave's poet, sang his songs and played his fiddle...
As to the future, 2015? Yes, the good things about holding the Autoharp Festival in Gargrave were even better - but the difficulties were much the same. We were undoubtedly overstretched. There is only so much you can ask of volunteers. The quest for money is time consuming. We will have to think... But, in the annals of the autoharp, we will always have Gargrave.
Photographs by Andrew Milne, Official Photographer, Gargrave Autoharp Festival, more here:...