Chichester itself is a small country town in the heart of Sussex, and the theatre stands on the edge of a beautiful park. Unlike Glyndebourne where the entire audience wears evening dress, the clothes worn by the audience at Chichester are much less formal; but as the festival is held in the summer the pretty frocks of the women make an attractive picture as they stand and gossip outside the theatre during the intervals, or snatch hasty refreshments from their cars in the park.
The Welsh Eisteddfod
No country in the world has a greater love of music and poetry than the people of Wales. Today, Eisteddfod is held at scores of places throughout Wales, particularly from May to early November. The habit of holding similar events dates back to early history and there are records of competitions for Welsh poets and musicians in the twelfth century. The Eisteddfod sprang from the Gorsedd, or National Assembly of Bards. It was held occasionally up to 1819, but since then has become an annual event for the encouragement of Welsh literature and music and the preservation of the Welsh language and ancient national customs.
The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales is held annually early in August, in North and South Wales alternately, its actual venue varying from year to year. It attracts Welsh people from all over the world. The programme includes male and mixed choirs, brass-band concerts, many children's events, drama, arts and crafts and, of course, the ceremony of the Crowning of the Bard.
Next in importance is the great Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod, held early in July and attended by competitors from many countries, all wearing their picturesque and often colourful national costumes. It is an event probably without parallel anywhere in the world. There are at least twenty-five other major Eisteddfods from May to November.
In addition to the Eisteddfod, about thirty major Welsh Singing Festivals are held throughout Wales from May until early November.
The Edinburgh Festival
It is a good thing that the Edinburgh Festival hits the Scottish Capital outside term time. Not so much because the University hostels - and students'digs - are needed of provide accommodation for Festival visitors but because this most exhilarating occasion allows no time for anything mundane. It gives intelligent diversion for most of the twenty - four hours each weekday in its three weeks (it is not tactful to ask about Sundays - you explore the surrounding terrain then). The programmes always include some of the finest chamber music ensemble and soloists in the world. There are plenty of matinees; evening concerts, opera, drama and ballet performances usually take place at conventional times - but the floodlit Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle obviously doesn't start till after dusk, and late night entertainments and the Festival Club can take you into the early hours of the morning.
In recent years, about 90,000 people have flocked into Edinburgh every year during the three weeks at the end of August and early September. The 90,000, of course, does not include the very large numbers of people who discover pressing reasons for visiting their Edinburgh relations about this time, nor the many thousands who come into the city on day trips from all over the country.
They wouldn't all come, year after year, to a city bursting to capacity if they didn't find the journey eminently worth-while. They find in Edinburgh Festival the great orchestras and soloists of the world, with top-class opera thrown in; famous ballet companies, art exhibitions and leading drama; the Tattoo, whose dramatic colour inspires many a hurried claim to Scottish ancestry.
Since the Festival started in 1947 as a gesture of the Scottish renaissance against post-war austerity, much has blossomed around it. Every hall in the city is occupied by some diversion: and you may find Shakespeare by penetrating an ancient close off the Royal Mile, or plain-song in a local church. "Fringe" events bring performing bodies from all over Britain and beyond, and student groups are always prominent among them, responsible often for interesting experiments in the drama. Then there is the International Film Festival, bringing documentaries from perhaps 30 countries; Highland Games, and all sorts of other ploys from puppet to photo shows.
The National Musical Instrument of the Scots
The bagpipe was known to the ancient civilisations of the Near East. It was probably introduced into Britain by the Romans. Carvings of bagpipe players on churches and a few words about them in the works of Chaucer and other writers show that it was popular all over the country in the Middle Ages. Now bagpipes can be seen and head only in the northern counties of England, in Ireland and in Scotland where it was introduced much later. Bagpipes have been used ill most European countries. It is also native to India and China.
In Scotland the bagpipe is first recorded in the 16th century during the reign of James I, who was a very good player, and probably did much to make it popular. For long it has been considered a national Scottish instrument.
The sound of the bagpipes is very stirring. The old Highland clans and later the Highland regiments used to go into battle to the sound of the bagpipes.
The bagpipe consists of a reed pipe, the 'chanter', and a windbag, which provides a regular supply of air to the pipe. The windpipe is filled either from the mouth or by a bellows, which the player works with his arm. The chanter has a number of holes or keys by means of which the tune is played.
Music and Musicians
The people living in the British Isles are very fond of music, and it is quite natural that concerts of the leading symphony orchestras, numerous folic groups and pop music are very popular.
The Promenade concerts are probably the most famous. They were first held in 1840 in the Queen's Hall, and later were directed by Sir HenryWood. They still continue today in the Royal Albert Hall. They take place every night for about three months in the summer, and the programmes include new and contemporary works, as well as classics. Among them are symphonies and other pieces of music composed by Benjamin Britten, the famous English musician.
Usually, there is a short winter season lasting for about a fortnight. The audience may either listen to the music from a seat or from the 'promenade', where they can stand or stroll about, or, if there is room, sit down on the floor.
Concerts are rarely given out-of-doors today except for concerts by brass bands and military bands that play in the parks and at seaside resorts during the summer.
Folk music is still very much alive. There are many foul groups. Their harmony singing and good humour win them friends everywhere.
Rock and pop music is extremely popular, especially among younger people. In the 60s and 70s groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd became very popular and successful.
The Beatles, with their style of singing new and exciting,