Once in a while, life throws up an event so special that those who were there will for ever remember it with deep affection; and, in attempting to convey the elemental joy of the occasion to those who were not, can only say “you should have been there”.

To my way of thinking – and I suspect I am not alone, last weekend was one of those rare, life-enhancing, and possibly life-changing, experiences. We were privileged to be there and to be part of it in whatever way.

What we experienced at the inaugural Southwell Music Festival was not due to the contribution of any one of us; it arose from our collective effort to make and be part of something special.  I think I can say without fear of contradiction that we did – and it was.

Thank you to everyone who was with us on the journey and who shared the experience.  We established the Southwell Music Festival in such an emphatic way that several people – audiences and performers – have commented that they could not believe that this was the first Festival; still less that it was accomplished entirely with voluntary effort.

Time will give perspective to what we have achieved but already it is possible to say that we go forwards to next year with the confidence of knowing that our musicians are keen to return; that audiences are hungry for more; that people enjoyed playing host to our performers; and that there is interest in considering the financial support we will need.

To put this enthusiasm in perspective we were lucky enough to have Hugh Canning, music critic of the Sunday Times, with us on a private visit: he sent a couple of enthusiastic tweets following The Creation and described the State Chamber as “perfect for song & chamber music”.  He also much enjoyed choral evensong.

I am also pleased to report that our benefiting charity Framework is more than £1,400 better off due to the generosity of those attending our Fringe events, and that the Southwell Artists enjoyed visits from many of our audience members.  Initial indications are that visitor numbers to the town over the weekend were significantly up and that local traders benefited.

I am indebted to two of our visiting musicians for portraits of the weekend in words and pictures which I share with thanks to Cheyney Kent for his affectionate blog and to Andrew Staples for his evocative pictures.

Marcus Farnsworth

Founder and Artistic Director

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