ARTISTS PRAISE COURAGE OF THE BATH FESTIVAL
We were so excited to have a vast variety of talented authors and artists at the festival this year. These included familiar names such as Richard Osman, Mel Giedroyc and Kate Mosse, who expressed such delight at being able to perform for a live audience again. The Bath Festival was one of the first festivals in the UK to stage live events after lockdown, so the atmosphere at the festival was really special this year.
Our brilliant team were brave in making this decision to go ahead with the festival when restrictions were lifted, but this calculated risk paid off hugely. We were able to stage more than 40 events in Bath over eight days, many of them eliciting emotional responses from artists and audiences alike.
We welcomed the wise and wonderful Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, mother of the Kanneh-Mason musical siblings to the festival on Saturday night, and she spoke about the event in such a wonderful way. “Saturday evening (in Bath) was a magical event for us – our first live and in-person event for so many months. It is an indescribable feeling to speak and play in front of an audience present before you, and to experience the interaction and energy so vital for musicians and writers discussing their work. Bath Festival is a special place for us. The family have returned several times to one of our favourite places to perform and we were thrilled to be there again and to experience the wonderful atmosphere that Bath Festival offers. A true pleasure.”
We also welcomed Kate Mosse, founder director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and author of bestselling titles including The Burning Chambers, and she quoted: “All of us have been starved of live author events. It’s a really wonderful thing that The Bath Festival has done.”
We were delighted to have a huge name in the UK Arts scene with us too. Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican Centre, opened his talk about his new book The Life of Music, with praise for the team for taking the risk with live events: “Congratulations to Bath Festivals for being the first out of the blocks.”
Debut novelist, podcaster and journalist Daisy Buchanan was so happy to be in her first live event, talking about her book Insatiable. She tweeted: “The Bath Festival was magical today. I’m so, so moved and overwhelmed by the hard work and dedication of the organisers who are making something brilliant, brave and beautiful against all odds.”
“Had my first in person event with Daisy Buchanan and Judith Robinson for The Bath Festival and it was perfect. Thank you for having me The Bath Festival, my heart is very full.” – debut novelist Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of Open Water, on Instagram.
We had Mel Giedroyc, comedian and presenter to talk about her debut novel The Best Things. She said: “It’s so lovely to be in a room with people. It feels incredibly special, so thank you.”
Our audiences had a very warm reaction to Richard Osman, who burst into mutual applause with his capacity audience a couple of times during his event: “Oh isn’t this great that we’re all out together!” he said, clearly enjoying the sound of laughter from a live crowd again.
International pianist Alexandra Dariescu on Twitter after her concert with the Bath Philharmonia: “Such an appreciative audience, happiness and hope. Lots of hope!”
We also received praise from music director of the Bath Philharmonia Jason Thornton, saying: “It was amazing for all of us on stage to be able to perform to a sold out audience at The Forum. It was particularly poignant as it was our first live performance this year and as well as including Mendelssohn and Beethoven with the amazing Alex Dariescu and the ridiculously talented Coco Tomita, we were also able to include a piece written by BANES Young Carers, from their first live face-to-face project at Easter. It was joyful and very, very moving event.”
We had broadcaster John Suchet to tie our Beethoven events together with weird and wonderful facts about Beethoven. He quoted: “Such a pleasure to bring Beethoven to a live audience. Congratulations to Bath Festivals for opening your doors!”
Columnist and podcaster Bryony Gordon told us: “It’s really weird writing a book in lockdown and even if you get feedback on Instagram or social media there is nothing quite like actually physically being in a room with other people.”
Writer Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books, tweeted after her event: “A complete and utter joy being in Bath. I love live events so much and am high as a kite after the pleasure of being with Kate Mosse and Neema Shah and the delightful Bath audience this afternoon The Bath Festival.”
Our fantastic CEO Ian Stockley said on the closing day of the festival (Monday 24 May): “It has been wonderful to see our audiences return in increasing numbers through the festival week as concerns about attending turned visibly into relaxation and pleasure as live events inspired and reminded us of the positive impact that the arts and live performance has on our lives. The joy in the performers and speakers, as they experienced a live audience’s response and engagement once again, has made the obstacles we have had to knock down to reach this point and deliver the festival absolutely worth it.”
Sell-out events included the Concert for the People of Bath with Bath Philharmonia, an appearance by performance poet Hollie McNish, guided walking tours themed around the filming of Netflix hit Bridgerton and the Gothic tale of Frankenstein. Other sell-out hits included a discussion about the peri-menopause and a talk from bestselling Skincare Queen Caroline Hirons, as well as two concerts by The Gesualdo Six, staged beside the Roman Baths. The opening concert in Bath Abbey by the Bath Festival Orchestra was also at full capacity.
Audiences were undeterred by having to adhere to social distancing rules, including wearing masks throughout each event. Their applause was heartfelt and the comments warm and positive.
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and North East Somerset, attended several events and tweeted after our Kanneh-Mason concert at The Forum: “We are so lucky in Bath to hear wonderful young musical talent. Thank you to everyone who made it possible.”
However, that’s not all from our wonderful festival! We are also offering our audience the chance to enjoy highlights from the festival with The Bath Festival At Home, a digital broadcast for people to watch at home from Friday 28 May to Friday 11 June. This will be a mix of filmed live events and podcasts from the festival, and it’s FREE!
Each of our At Home events will be introduced by presenter and writer Francesca Beauman. These short films will include highlights of Bath, showcasing the city for a global audience. All events in The Bath Festival at Home are FREE to watch but please consider donating to our festival, a registered charity. All donations will support future festivals and creative learning projects with young people in the local community.
From Friday 28 May watch The Bath Festival At Home at: