VIOLINIST and composer Harriet Mackenzie says she “still has to pinch herself” after becoming the associate artist of Salisbury International Arts Festival.

The festival, which returns after a two-year hiatus got underway last week and runs until June 19.

She said: “Being Festival Associate Artist is first of all a massive honour, I still have to pinch myself sometimes that this isn’t a dream! I have had a great time working with the Salisbury Festival team.”

Harriet will next be performing with the Karolos Ensemble at Wilton Italianate Church on June 7, on June 11 with Bath Philharmonia for FLARE! at Salisbury Cathedral and St Thomas’s Church in Salisbury on June 14 for Vivalid’s Four Seasons and A New Island Adventure.

On what it means for performers to be back at the festival, she added: “I know for us performers it has been such a special joy to be back on stage. I think we appreciate the magic of that moment when we are experiencing and sharing the music together, live in that time and space and there is a frisson in the air: “The moment cradled like a brandy glass” as Louis Macniece describes so eloquently in his poem.

“Audiences have seemed particularly moved – many people were crying in the first performances which I did after lockdown (in a good way - I hope - I should add!). It has made me realise even more how important the arts are."

Harriet has had a long connection with the event and has been working with the festival in different capacities since 2018 - first performing at the festival in Salisbury Cathedral in 2019. She says that “Salisbury really feels like a second home now”.

From an early age she was drawn to violin and started playing just before her fifth birthday after “a long, hard and focused campaign to my parents from the age of three”.

But admits: “In the end, frustrated with their inaction and excuses “you’re too young… it’s too expensive”, I asked the teacher myself. She was so impressed with my determination and my aching need to play the violin that she put me top of her waiting list and I started in group lessons. I was incredibly lucky to study with such an inspiring, creative teacher – Sheila Nelson - and I will always be grateful to her.

“I was always obsessed with the sound of the violin. There is something intangible about the exquisite but deeply human sound that resonated with me on a deeper level. Even as a toddler I wanted to create that. Being on stage and performing was secondary and a by-product of that urge to create beauty and emotion.”

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