As we come to the end of the Festival's 'Trans-Cultural' celebrations it is time for some further reflection. This weekend I have enjoyed the music and dance of Cameroon as well as fusions of Middle-Eastern music/Jazz, North-African music/Hip-hop and East-Asian folklore/Western Classical Music. It has been eye-opening and the last thing I expected to find in this remote corner of France. I have sat in these performances dancing, laughing and meditating with my colleagues - and there has been plenty of lively debate afterwards too!
None of these concerts are events I would have chosen to invest in prior to arriving at Royaumont, and yet each one has created such a marked impression upon me as an artist. I so admired the energy and dedication to story-telling of Jen Shyu, but her fast-paced, intense performance was such a contrast with the tranquil, comfortable space for reflection I found in the music of Amir El-Saffar. This raises such interesting questions about the purpose of performance, and the ways in which it can be enjoyed. And it has certainly inspired me to find more of these cross-cultural celebrations when I return to the UK!
Our first 'soloists' concert on Friday offered another audience experience - the chance for them to get to know each player individually, within the intimate sphere of exposed solo repertoire. As a performer, solo repertoire creates a certain energy and ownership of space, alongside the dynamic of collaborating with your audience, due to a lack of collaborators on stage. I have loved performing solo voice music for some time due to this magical balance of give-and-take and Friday's concert was no exception. It is also a real privilege to perform alongside such talented and supportive musicians - I have been particularly appreciative this week of the mutual respect and consideration we have for one another, allowing people to create and exist freely in their own space.
Although some time for reflection has been needed, there have also been opportunities for discussion. We have talked extensively about gender politics, particularly the culture of abuse and harassment within the music and education industries - a conversation that so urgently needs to be had. It is so unusual to have the time to discuss this issue with the careful attention it deserves, and to start to explore potential cultural changes.
Meanwhile the composers seminars have offered a forum to debate 'who' has ownership of a piece - composer, performer or audience. It is fascinating to hear such different views on this topic, and to continue to explore what is perhaps an unanswerable question.
My highlight so far has definitely been dancing wildly to Magic Malik, which collapsed into a cosy conversation with people I am finding to be kindred spirits until 2 o'clock this morning. But the truth is every day brings a new highlight, and I have seldom been more content. I look forward to seeing what the next week brings, and hope that I will continue to savour every second.