Two extraordinary thunderstorms brought the Anghiari Festival to a close yesterday, the first raging viciously above the town and including direct strikes on the museum and the crane sitting atop the hill. I was not a million miles away from the latter when it was hit, and it is not an experience I would like to repeat again. Some have opined that it might have been some kind of divine warning against people answering their phones and taking phone calls in the middle of a concert, which, unbelievably, happened during a quiet moment in the 6 o’clock – “Hello? Yes, I’m at a concert”, and so on…
The second storm came and passed in the middle of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, an inspired choice with which to close the Festival, as it turned out. Thence to the bar as the low cloud swept magically across the square, and we even managed to dodge the buckets of water hurled from the third floor flat, an Anghiari tradition.
Last year, as was probably apparent from my posts, the whole experience was rather stressful, although I am sure that others went through much worse, but this time around the hours have ticked by with barely a hitch. One or two there have been, as is near inevitable in an operation of this size, but even the torrential rain has failed to dampen spirits, and not a single note was lost to the weather.
The end of the Festival means, for me, that things are beginning to wind down before my summer break. I have a couple of quieter weeks now, and then, after a weekend with the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir in Arundel, which will include two performances of Melody Divined, it will be time to escape to the Lake District, sharpen the pencils and do some serious writing.
So much is happening at the moment that it is quite difficult to know where to start, but it is a good problem to have, and the Festival has been beyond value in encouraging people to view me as a writer, both this year and last. All through yesterday I was approached by audience members from Friday who wanted to talk to me about against the pull of silence, which seems to have gone down extremely well, and I also managed to make what could turn out to be some very useful contacts for the future, both on a professional and personal level.
Today, though, it is all about getting home. I have rarely felt more welcome here, and will be back within a couple of months, but I have a need to get home, cuddle those I have left behind, close the door, take a deep breath and try to process everything that has happened this week, how things have changed, where they might lead and what to do next.