My Top Pick with Maria Laybourn, Volunteers Coordinator: MARTIN TAYLOR

My Top Pick with Maria Laybourn, Volunteers Coordinator: MARTIN TAYLOR

Having been a keen Festival-goer myself, I joined the Swaledale Festival team after I retired about nine years ago and eventually took on the (voluntary!) role of Volunteer Coordinator.

It is a real privilege to work with a wonderful army of volunteers, without whom the Festival really wouldn’t happen. Around 80 people steward events each year. An additional team provides transport for artists who arrive by train and need driving to their venues and accommodation. There is an amazing team of hosts who accommodate artists in their own homes, often providing meals and sitting up in the wee small hours after concerts, discovering more about their visitors. Hosts sometimes get the rare opportunity to hear artists rehearse in their own living rooms!

Every year the programme brings joy and some unexpected surprises. This year I am most intrigued by the concert with Martin Taylor, the world renowned jazz guitarist and Grammy-nominated musician who is performing on Sunday 2 June at 19:30 at St. Andrew's Church, Grinton.

Martin is one of the best guitarists in the world, yet he was entirely self-taught. He picked up his first guitar at the age of four, was playing village dances in his dad's jazz band by 12, and, just four years later, was supporting the great Count Basie and his Orchestra. Later he was introduced to Stéphane Grappelli and went on to perform and record with him for 11 years, occupying the position once held by Django Reinhardt, Martin’s childhood idol.

We are especially pleased that Martin has agreed to perform for pupils in a local secondary school as part of the Festival’s Community and Education programme. 

So, one of the world’s finest jazz guitarists is coming to the atmospheric church in Grinton. What are you waiting for?

Photo shows Maria at Buckingham Palace, following the Festival receiving the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.


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