Script - Saturday 3 May 2014 - Andrea Rea
It is the time of year when many towns and cities hold music festivals, with competitions for solo singing, instrumental music, orchestras, choirs and so on. Recently, I was adjudicating at a festival in a small town in Northern Ireland. Whenever I have to ‘sit in judgement’ as it were, over children who come to play or sing in these, I’m reminded of my days as a music teacher in another town. The festival programme there always had a quote on the front cover by the musician and broadcaster Sir Henry Walford Davies: It read, "At a festival, competitors do not set out to beat each other, they set out to pace each other on the road to perfection". I used it at the time to instruct my own pupils about the way to look at their own participation in festivals and competitions, and I think about it now, when awarding prizes one musician or another. That very useful quote helped my students to be less nervous when competing onstage at a Festival, and it helps me now to see my role not in terms of making final judgements, but marking progress on that illusive, imaginary road to perfection. The best result, I think, is when a young musician plays from the heart and somehow conveys part of themselves in the music; unique and joyous. I think I’m with the artist Salvador Dali on this- he said "Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it". To that I would add "but you can have a lot of fun trying". And that goes a long way.
Lord God of our imperfect world, help us to see perfection in the irregular and chaotic details of our everyday lives, and let our striving be towards grace in both triumph and defeat, in whatever we do. Amen