It was with great pleasure that I drove up to Blairgowrie last Sunday to attend 2016 Perthshire Amber festival farewell concert. Held in Blairgowrie Town hall which was, confessed Festival founder the legendary Singer/Songwriter and composer Dougie MacLean the scene of many a school dance, though he gave no further details. It was a celebration of all that is good about folk music and much more. Community, passion, internationalism, politics, solidarity, love, hope, the power of music to still the soul, laughter, wisdom in storytelling, hope, shaped the evening in many and in different ways and at several levels.
I was there because I really like that kind of music and event and don’t get to them nearly often enough and because, for the last 10 years, the Amber festival has supported Cyrenians, in particular our Good Food programme by encouraging the audiences at all the events of the festival to bring an item of food to donate. It’s what they call their “Amber Harvest”.
As with every year, several dozen bags of food were collected which was a brilliant gift. This year Cyrenians also were grateful recipients of the proceeds of what the Amber Festival calls its “Big Knit” where supporters, including Dougie’s Mother Dolly, knit hats and blankets and other wonderful creations for raffle – raising this year an amazing £1650. It was my privilege this year to receive this generous gift.
Dougie told me that the food donation idea came from something he’d seen when touring in America; such a simply way of helping so many. Dougie told me of how one year a man turned up with a whole shopping trolley of food saying; “I was homeless once. This is giving back for the help I received”.
It is on such generosity that our work is built. The willingness to give to those we will never meet and to stand in solidarity with those whose circumstances we will never know. But it is more than that. It is the foundation of what we call community, where in reaching out to others, so we ourselves also have our needs met.
Nelson Mandela put it like this; our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
In that simple task of asking those who come to be entertained to act with compassion and remember those whose situation is a tougher reality, as the Perthshire Amber Festival does every year without fail, that hopeful future seems a little closer. That is something worth singing about; something Dougie and his friends did to premier division standard last Sunday night.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/n/nelson_mandela.html