Artistic Director of Four Winds, Scottish-born James Crabb strides through the different worlds of international concerts, off-beat and unexpected collaborations, academia, and festivals, large and small.
An acclaimed classical accordion player who was given his first instrument when he was four, he knows the life-changing possibilities of music, especially for young people.
James says that the Four Winds Easter festival, now an annual celebration, has reached the stage where it can take full advantage of having world-class performers coming to make music here. ‘It is quite a pilgrimage for musicians. At Four Winds, we smooth the pathways so that when they arrive, they can just make music. We’re fortunate because we are part of a community that places enormous value on the broader educational experience and the support we have enables our visiting musicians, often at the peak of their careers, to stay here for a longer time to work with young people.’
There are two things especially that make his eyes light up: curiosity and music education, and both are allowed full play in the planning of festivals and program events. ‘I’ve been around a lot of festivals, and each artistic director has different ideas,’ James says. Audiences come to be entertained. ‘If you set things up correctly, they will. Curiosity is an incredibly infectious word for me, where giving and sharing becomes the norm, and where there is joy in hearing a work in a different context.’
Now with a year-long program of work which continues to develop the musical life of the South Coast, the knowledge base, facilities and surroundings of Four Winds are shared by an increasingly large number of people. ‘And that’s how it should be,’ James says. ‘We are fortunate to be in a place where a lot of music is made, and where other festivals and events happen. We’re not in competition, we are simply part of the diversity. What happens here relates to nature, style and quality, all values I hold dear. We want to say to the wider community “this is yours, for you to come and be part of the journey”.’
James and his violinist wife Lizzie have two sons, Hamish, and Django who he says ‘are very helpful to have around’ when planning for schools. ‘The fundamentals of music making are that it must be fun, and you need a strong communication link.’ Young children, he says, can read people very well. He laughs, that infectious laugh that wins friends, every time. ‘I’m a big kid as well, so there’s no barriers. You get your feet on the ground, and it feels healthy, pure and real.’
Note: The article on The Four Winds Festival published in the Autumn issue mistakenly attributed the article to the incorrect author and we would like to acknowledge Jane Sandilands as the writer of that editorial.