Find your favourite composer….

Children enjoy a performance at Harrogate International Festivals

Music has been described as the language of the heart. It evokes memories and accompanies us at key moments in our lives, be it the tune that gets you on the dancefloor, or music chosen carefully for weddings or funerals.

One of the things our late, great President of HIF, Dame Fanny Waterman once said that there were three domains to music. The first, the great composers ‘who reside in heaven’. The manuscripts they left behind needed the second thing – great musicians to bring them to life. The third? Audiences, who open their ears and ‘hear a glimpse of heaven’. I don’t think you have to be religious to appreciate the idea.

The start of a new year for me means the start of our Sunday Series, a blissful season of Sunday morning coffee concerts that features some of the world’s most talented musicians breathing life into those enduring composers.

Taking us from these wintry months to spring, these Sunday morning sessions offer a little balm, but music is much more than that. It can be overwhelming reading report after report about the impact of music on our well-being.  We’ve all read about the Mozart effect – how classical music helps everything from concentration to reducing stress. However, music can be more than just an antidote to illness. Taking time out to listen to music should be a form of enjoyment and relaxation. Listening to the great composers of generations past shouldn’t feel like a chore or an experience to pass an exam. It’s an exploration, a chance to imagine what the composer tells us through their music, using your imagination to find your own connection and where possible, to relax and let the music wash over you. So often concerts, particularly chamber music, can feel stuffy. It can feel like sneezing is a sin, let alone shuffling in your seat. That’s why we at the festivals want young people to be able to experience chamber music and all the work we deliver across the year – on their own terms through our Library of Live.

Library of live offers young people up to 24 to come to all our work for free. To look at the Festival programme across the year like a library. Pick out an event, try it out, if you’re not sure you like it, try something else. No cost, no risk and leave if you don’t like it. Not every composer or piece of music is for everyone (personally I can’t stand Wagner, I’m hoping I’ll grow into it like learning to like olives!) but there will be a piece of music or a performer who, when you hear their music live for the first time, there’s a connection – that’s what the Festivals are determined to offer.

So, this spring, why don’t you try some classical music for yourself? The music may be centuries old but its constantly having new life breathed back into it. I hope you’ll join us for these eternal melodies as we usher in a new year.

Find out more about the Sunday Series here. Book your tickets online here or call the Box Office on 01423 562303.

Sharon Canavar, CEO of Harrogate International Festivals