Inspiring events and crossing boundaries 

I probably shouldn't be blogging at 3am and this is sure to be full of typos, but sometimes inspiration grabs me and this is one of those times.

Today I departed from my usual concert experience to play for an Anglo-Dutch exchange at Inner Temple in London, where my sister, Belle Turner, is a leading junior barrister and chairs a Young Barristers' Committee.

For five days, young barristers from The Netherlands have come to London to share the experiences of our own barristers and learn first hand about how law is practised in the UK. As someone who has a great passion for learning, and not exclusively in my own field, I love to see people learning in other disciplines and always ask myself whether I can apply any of their methods to my own discipline. This I then extend to my teaching. Firstly though, I'll explain in brief what I did tonight. I was asked to provide a short recital to entertain the English barristers and the Dutch guests while they enjoyed pre-dinner drinks. I was delighted to be able to choose two brilliant original harp compositions - one of which was by the 19th century English harpist Parish-Alvars, the other by the Dutch (non-harpist) composer Henk Alkema. The latter composition, Forgotten Lore, is known well by me on account of it being the set piece in Stage 2 of the Netherlands International Harp Competition this year! It also happens to be a wonderful, likeable composition that I was delighted to be performing again.

The Dutch visitors, and the Londoners, all listened attentively to my performance. There wasn't a single rustle even in the 'frozen frame' ending. The piece really seemed to capture everyone's imagination and in the freeze-frame stillness at the end I felt as if all those well-respected people of the law were watching me, like on an old cinefilm stuck on one frame, studying the musician at work in her discipline, immersed in the music just as they have been immersed in their discipline. It is so engaging and inspiring to meet people who are passionate about their work or vocation; whether it is music, law, politics, sport, care in the community....we can all learn so much from each other and enhance the quality of our lives and careers, as well as gaining a deeper sense of respect for others.

The highlight of the evening, for myself and all the young barristers, came after dinner in a wonderfully motivating speech by Lord Robert Walker of Gestingthorpe QC, one of the twelve supreme court judges. Lord Walker spoke with poise and conviction, tempered by an endearing humour and humility, about the young people needing to ensure that higher standards were sought for justice and fairness in all walks of life. Something about the delivery of his speech made me want to put down my pudding fork and rush out immediately to try to change the world and influence those in positions of authority, but as I cannot convey the power of his persuasion for you, I will instead list his three main points:

1. to maintain intellectual inquisitiveness

2. to continue to look to history to guide/inform our decisions

as there is almost always a comparable situation that we can learn from - even if the actual subject matter is different

3. to keep being outraged

here, Lord Walker cited examples that clearly fill him with outrage - levels of child poverty in the UK, bad decisions by government on issues of public money being misspent, people in positions of power abusing their authority and not wishing to be held accountable for that - and we were left with the impression that there were plenty more things. 

Perhaps I was the only person in the room to be privately confessing to myself that I was guilty of these things not filling me with the outrage that they should. Perhaps I am the only person who will now be thinking about this very hard over the coming weeks - about when and where injustice so became the 'norm' in society that I could not be bothered to use my energy on being outraged by these things, and other things that really are of great importance to me, to all of us and to our children and future generations. However, having had the privilege of hearing such a motivational speech up-close and personal, I know for sure that I will not be the only one to be feeling this way.

I hope that I will continue to be inspired by Lord Walker's words - applying his first two points to my music practice, performance and teaching, and his third point to all the real issues that, like it or not, are affecting all our lives every day. What a blessing to be a part of such a great event. Congrats to Belle Turner for organising the event and being a true source of inspiration herself.

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