The range of topics at the EdBookFest

11th August 2019 | Books | 0 comments

For the past couple of days I’ve been at the Edinburgh Book Festival  (one of the world’s major literary festivals) listening to other writers’ talks –  that is, when I could hear them over the noise of the thunder, lightning and rain battering on the canvas roof (in August).

Last night we were at a discussion about the future of humanitarianism. Experts from aid agencies were describing the stress of working under bombardment and in buildings with no electricity, when suddenly the lights went out in our tent. The panellists gamely continued in the dim glow of the emergency lighting. A moment later, there was a burst of noise outside – the fireworks which mark the end of the Tattoo at nearby Edinburgh Castle. The explosions of the fireworks in the sudden darkness made an evocative background for the tales.

I’ve been to talks about very big topics – racism, ecology; saving lives in war zones; the unfairness with which women have to contend. It’s easy to feel that one’s own topic, music, is small in comparison. How can I expect people to be interested in a talk about playing the piano when they could be learning about the plight of refugees or the threat to democracy?

Yet I know that music, and great art in general, plays an important role in helping people to make sense of their experiences. In a world boiling with challenges, most of us feel a need to create some space where we can digest and reflect upon our daily lives – and music can meet this need so wonderfully.

My talk at the BookFest is on Tuesday 13 August at 8.45pm.


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