A message from Phyllida Lloyd - Simonsbath Festival Patron
What a small community like Simonsbath might lack in access to choice and variety in the arts it makes up for in ambition and collective enthusiasm to make things happen.
It might take more effort to go out and find world-class artists and invite them to a tiny village on Exmoor, but it is an example of collective will and spirit that makes it all worthwhile.
And these exciting events can be enjoyed at a fraction of what it would cost in the capital, with the pleasure of knowing that proceeds go to St Luke’s, the festival and local charities
Simonsbath Festival 2015
Simonsbath Festival is now in its fourth year and has settled into its six-week slot in spring calendar between May Day and Midsummer.
The idea is to celebrate the cultural heritage Exmoor, with traditional May Day and Midsummer festivities to open and close the festival, while inviting musicians from abroad to celebrate their cultural heritage during the six weeks in between. In the spirit of diversity, the aim is also to fill the programme with as much variety as possible with opera, jazz and classical music concerts and all sorts of other events, including talks, walks, poetry and an art exhibition.
One of the most important aspects of the festival is our work with local schools. Two years ago the festival began a project to revive interest in and knowledge of the traditional music and songs of Exmoor. The project ‘Songs from the Exmoor Forest’ was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and run by the folk and community arts organisation Wren Music.
Wren musicians Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson held a series of workshops in local schools and in the wider community to teach the folk music, songs and traditions collected on Exmoor from the early 20th century to the 1980s. This included material collected by Cecil Sharp, who noted more than 100 songs which were gathered from Exmoor. The other main body of work was Paul Wilson’s collection of folk songs from his visits to Exmoor in the 1970s, following in Cecil Sharp’s footsteps across the moor.
As part of the project we collated an online song book, featuring music and songs collected on Exmoor, which can be found on a separate web page. We are keen to continue the music workshops, and this year they have been run by the popular folk and traditional entertainers Tom and Barbara Brown at Exford, Cutcombe and Timberscombe schools. Their workshops culminated in a Midsummer family and community concert on June 19 at the Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross.
St Luke’s was the original inspiration for Simonsbath Festival and the recently restored church continues to inspire, with its attractive and welcoming atmosphere and warm acoustic – now with the added benefit of a brand new sound system.
Besides investing in the sound system at St Luke’s, which was match funded by the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and funding the school music workshops, the festival has over the past years made donations to local charities such as Exmoor Search and Rescue, the Beacon Centre cancer unit at Taunton’s Musgrove Hospital and the South Molton branch of the Royal British Legion.
If you would like to become a Friend of Simonsbath Festival for just £15 a year and enjoy ticket discounts and priority booking while also supporting the festival, please telephone 01643 831343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org