Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Windsor Festival

Every year at the end of September/beginning of October, the Windsor Festival is held. Founded in 1969, the Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Events are held all over the town, including at The Theatre Royal, St George’s Chapel and even, by kind permission of the Queen this year, in the Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle and the Chapel Royal, Windsor Great Park.

The idea of the festival at its inception was to promote quality performances of music and the arts, increase local access, encourage development of young musicians and other artists and to provide opportunities for local performers. Looking at the events being held this year, it’s apparent the organisers have stayed true to these goals. There are art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, performances and competitions, all of which are open to the public, and many of which are aimed at young people.

Last night my husband and I attended “An Evening With Sir Michael Parkinson” at the Theatre Royal. It was very entertaining indeed. The television broadcaster looked back on 45 years in the business, and spoke about many of his now famous interviews with so many people in the public eye. He talked about interviews with John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Mohammed Ali, Robert Mitchum, Madonna and Jayne Fonda among others. It was fascinating to hear his insights into both the people and their times. Nothing was off limits, not even his disastrous interview with Meg Ryan, nor the now famous interview with Rod Hull and Emu, during which Emu attacked him. He also highlighted interviews with some of those less well known, but truly influential people such as Catherine Booth Clifford and Jacob Bronowski. The most charming story was his account of when he kissed Lauren Bacall, fulfilling a boyhood dream. Many of these anecdotes were illustrated with film clips, helping to remind the audience of interviews they had watched years ago.

Sir Michael Parkinson is so personable, and has such a relaxed attitude on stage that the evening just flew by. He is likeable, funny and wise with a quick and often self-deprecating wit. It is lovely to see someone who has had such an illustrious career carrying on with so many interests. In fact, he is off on tour in Australia and New Zealand from later this week until Christmas. Not bad for someone who refers to himself as a “septuagenarian”!

It really was an excellent show, and such an enjoyable way to spend an evening. It would be lovely to have time to attend more of the events at The Windsor Festival, but it’s impossible to fit everything in these days. It certainly does have something for everyone, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s!

The Windsor Festival runs until October 4th this year.