Looking back, looking forward
I’m writing this sitting on the pebbled beach in Aldeburgh on New Year’s Day. So, with the big blue sky above me, forgive some big, blue sky thoughts and reflections on the year past and the year ahead.
2017 was a time of change for me personally. We had our second baby girl in March and shortly after the festival in May (Investec International Music Festival) I handed over the reigns of Music in Offices to go on maternity leave. Something I hadn’t had the chance to do with our first. This was a big step – and felt very liberating.
Far from finding it difficult to let go, I felt empowered, free to explore new adventures and start a new journey.
So, eight weeks after Agnes was born, we had packed up the house, let it on Airbnb and were on a flight to Lisbon for the summer (with Joc on crutches after falling down stairs – not the best start)!
It was a unique opportunity for us to have this time together in Lisbon. Away from the admin of day to day organising and the fast pace London life brings, we had a blank canvas to paint. There were challenges of course that come with a new baby and a 4-year-old, but the sense of achievement and fulfilment we had from making this happen will last us a lifetime.
There were lots of firsts for our 4-year-old with a new school, learning to swim, learning to surf and making new friends. Learning from a new city too was inspiring – the tolerance, openness and generosity of a very contented people was what we experienced.
What impressed upon me the most was the time people allowed for each other. The elderly, pregnant women or people with children were hurried to the front of supermarket queues, queues at stations, and restaurants. A man about to draw cash from an ATM cancelled his transaction when he saw me behind him juggling two small children. It was a small gesture but one that made a difference and spoke to me about the value of time and the cultural attitudes towards it.
Returning to London in September was like being put in a washing machine – jumping back on that treadmill was inevitable and we quickly revved up the pace but still try to maintain the feeling of peace that came with the blank canvas.
But it is the sense of time and its relationship to music that has remained with me since returning to work. Music and music-making brings people together, allows for time to be creative and to slow down. After my time in Lisbon I realise that this is no bad thing. It’s a gift in our culture which compresses time and all our activities within it.
With fresh ideas and a more global outlook, I have hit the ground running. Keen to expand and market our different programmes and services, I feel we have ended 2017 poised to really reach out. The festival is also at a time of change as we look ahead to our 9th season this year and plan for the future.
2018 will bring its own adventures and I feel ready to embrace the challenges with an openness and a continued passion to shine a torch on the huge value culture and creativity can bring to any environment.