Every year as I return from breezy festival fields to my warm urban apartment, I bring home with me a sense of renewal.
The official vision of the Winnipeg Folk Festival is to cultivate experiences of discovery and learning through the celebration of people and music; however, a quieter goal that has been shared with me over these past few years is that of creating a safe space in a troubled world. In both cases, these aims address larger social values, and it is in this that I truly feel that this festival sets itself apart from the current plethora of others out there. The resulting action from these idealistic undertones is something I am happy to be a part of and it never ceases to refill my cup of hopefulness.
So here again I find myself sitting on the far side of a worked festival with more than a handful of memories to sift through; for the organizers, for myself, and for you. Between assignments and whimsical wandering, a few particular stories caught my eye which I would like to share with you today – all of which have a sort of circular nature to them.
A circle has no beginning and end. It is a powerful symbol of continuity and connectedness. This supports that, and is a result of that which came before. Most things are cyclic in life, at least in their healthiest forms, and the creative life is no exception. We build upon what came before, and in turn pass along the lessons we’ve learned to the next generation.
The Winnipeg Folk Festival recognizes this in the community that gathers in its fields, and endeavours to nurture growth. One clear example of this is the Young Performers Program. Every year, established musicians are paired up with aspiring young apprentices to mentor them in their songwriting and performance. After spending some time incubating new ideas, they step onto the stage together to share the fruits of their collaborative time with the world. For some this is their first chance of being in the spotlight, but the intent is that it is anything but the last time.
This year, the event was kicked off by a band born at the festival – both literally as babies, and again as musicians in the Young Performers Program some years later. Now graduates with more than a bit of experience under their belts, they stepped onto the main stage in front of the folk community. Following in the steps of those that came before them, in this moment things came full circle for Lucas and Madeleine Roger (of the band Roger Roger).