Yesterday I arrived back from the trip of a lifetime as a guest artist on the 33rd Music Festival at Sea, on board the ship Oriana (P&O). Over three and a half weeks, we sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, stopping in the Azores on our way out and on our return. In total we visited seven different places: Praia da Vitória (Terceira – Azores), St Kitts and Nevis, Sint Maarten / Saint Martin, Antigua and Barbuda, Martinique, Barbados and Ponta Delgada (Saõ Miguel – Azores).
I was part of a team of artists, led by Stephannie Williams, festival director, and Nick Bailey, presenter. It was wonderful to work with four fantastic singers – Rebecca Caine, Maria Jagusz, Nicholas Ransley and Kevin Greenlaw, as well as violinist Vanya Milanova and cellist Alexei Sarkissov. It was also so inspiring to hear and watch pianists Michael Pollock and Leo Nicholson – including from a very close vantage point as page turner!
The music festival offered a diverse programme of recitals, ranging from the fantastic Gala Opera Night to a thought provoking concert dedicated entirely to Chopin and his life story. I gave two solo recitals, one of which included a presentation about the harp, its history and mechanism. There were also regular varied recitals featuring all the artists, and even some acting in the production of ‘The Mikado’ at the end of the cruise!
I have arrived back to the UK very inspired by my experience! It was incredible to work with such fantastic people, to meet passengers with such a dedicated love for music, and of course to see new parts of the world. I was also very lucky to be able to take my mum on the cruise – a very small recompense for all those years of encouragement, time and harp transportation!
A very big thank you to Stephannie Williams, Nick Bailey and the rest of the team for having me on board (quite literally!) – I will treasure the experience forever.
I have created a small album of photos which you can view on my Facebook page here.