4 CORNERS FESTIVAL

MY DREAM OF BEING A JOURNALIST FULFILLED AT 4 CORNERS FESTIVAL

GARY L AND ME LAUGHING

For quite a while now I have had one night every year where I get to do what teenage Steve wanted to do - be an interviewer like Parkinson. Like Wogan. Nothing like Norton.

There was a day when Television chat shows were not hosted by comedians. They were serious shows. I loved them. I wanted to know about the artist and the art. 

So, as a sixteen year old I wanted to be a journalist. Indeed, in 1979 I went off to Sunderland Polytech to do Media Studies but three days later came home, went back to school and shifted my direction towards ministry. 

Yet, at every turn I have had an opportunity to do my journalism. At the Presbyterian Church’s annual Youth Reach Festival I got to co-host a magazine show with my mate David Montgomery. I then did some radio in Dublin in the early 90s before hosting a music show on BBC Radio Ulster for 10 years from 1996. I have also written articles, even been a magazine editor and of course blog and more recently podcast.

Never am I more happy that when I have someone to interview. The 4 Corners Festival has given me the chance to chat to Gary Lightbody, Ricky Ross, Ruth McGinley, Duke Special, Brian Houston and Iain Archer. Tonight it is a sold out Fitzroy for Dana Masters.

I am deeply grateful for those who say they like my interviewing style, particularly if they are artists. Many artists are almost insulted by a template of dull repetitive questions from journalists. I like to fool myself into thinking that I am a little different.

I am primarily a fan. I have a favourite artist in front of me. Yes, there is an audience there too but I pretend that I am in my kitchen. What would I like to know? What have other journalists not asked? My only fear is that I bore the audience with my own interests. Ricky Ross even had a song that would break the seriousness if needed!  

Tonight it is Dana Masters and it was during her songs at the closing event of the Festival last year with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, that a spark went off in my head. Her story of growing up in the deep south, her Granny being a Civil Rights activist yet here she is in Northern Ireland. I knew there were tales to dig into not just for the sake of it but to hear insights that might help us as we try to do our little bit for reconciliation here.

Of course we never planned that she’d be featuring on BBC TV the two nights before I interview her. We’ll get to talk about Ottilie Patterson too.

A bonus. She’s going to sing. What a voice! 

I’m getting excited. Being a talk show host in the same spot that I preach. God didn’t erase my dreams. I am grateful!


PROPHETIC DREAMING - 4 CORNERS FESTIVAL RADIO SERVICE

Fitzroy

We are very grateful that yet again BBC Radio Ulster are once again broadcasting our 4 Corners Festival Sunday Morning service.

For various reason this has taken a couple of hits over the past two weeks so let me spell out the what, where are who.

In keeping with this year's Festival theme, our guest speaker, Paul Lutton is preaching on Joel and Acts - where God's people dream dream and see visions. In our broken city, particularly as it is now we need prophetic dreamers. Paul will call us to that. Paul's assistant minister at Kirkpatrick Memorial Church and a very able communicator.

Celtic Psalms, made up of Kiran Young Wimberly and The McGrath family, will be with us after an amazing performance at our opening event in Skainos. Bringing those reflective Psalms to shine light on prophetic dreaming - beautiful.

On of Fitzroy's bands will lead us in and out of the service and there will be a range of people taking part. 

The service is NOW in Fitzroy Presbyeterian Church (77 University Street). You need to be in your seat by 10 as the broadcast goes live at 10.15.

So, we encourage you to join us live or listen on the radio! Regular Fitzroy streamers note that the service will go up on Fitzroy TV at 11.pm


DREAMING GOD'S DREAM - 4 CORNERS FESTIVAL OPENING EVENT

Kiran

Sunday night (January 29th) sees the first public event of 4 Corners Festival 2023.

Our key note speaker is Julieann Moran, who is the General Secretary of the Synodal Pathway in Ireland.

The Catholic Church have been going through a world wide synodal project, engaging the laity in discussions about the future of the Church should look. Julieann has been heading this up and will share how a denomination does such a thing.

It gives her a perfect place to assess communities of faith can dream God's dreams together.

Kiran Wimberly and The McGrath Family will bring their Celtic Psalms to the evening. Kiran is an American Presbyterian minister who has a wonderful gift at laying Old Testament Psalms to Irish and Scottish traditional airs. Beautiful and reflective.

There will also be a little sneak preview of our two week long exhibitions.

 

Dreaming God's Dream - Walking The Path Together is at Skainos Centre, 241 Newtownards Rd, Belfast BT4 1AF at 7pm (Online viewing tickets also available)

REGISTER HERE (FREE)

 

 


THE LETTER - FILM AT 4 CORNERS FESTIVAL

The Letter

It is difficult to imagine a 4 Corners Festival without something about the climate crisis. If we look back over the years we have touched in this subject regularly. As an issue that impacts the world, it is bound to impact Belfast.

Like many other things our politicians have let us down. Northern Ireland has lost more nature than any other part of the UK. We’re also the only country in the UK whose government hasn’t committed vital Green Recovery Fund to turn this around. We at 4 Corners Festival want to be involved in advocacy towards change. 

This year’s programme includes the film The Letter. In 2015 Pope Francis sent an encyclical around the world. Called Laudato sí  this was Pope Francis’s prophetic challenge to our way of life, our consumerism and irresponsible abuse of the earth. It then calls us to "swift and unified global action.”

The Letter is a film about how Pope Francis’ letter worked its way across the world and became a starter for discussion and a call to action. The Letter tells the incredible story of how these words engaged with frontline leaders battling the ecological crisis across continents. Somehow a letter became a movement. It is powerful and ultimately hopeful.

We are delighted that after the film two young activists Dakota Reid who is conservation officer with RSPB NI and Curtis Irvine who has been working for student justice organisation Just Love will respond in insightful conversation. 

This year 4 Corners Festival is taking their responsibility seriously as we attempt to offset the carbon footprint of the Festival in a tree planting project around Belfast. 

 

REGISTER FOR 4 CORNERS FESTIVAL HERE


4 CORNERS FESTIVAL 2023 - KNITTERS KNIT CITY TOGETHER

Peoples Kitchen

(Janice and I handing over 4 Corner's Festival 2022 knit items to Damian McNairney of The People's Kitchen) 

 

A few years ago Irene Jovaras from Focolare and my wife Janice got yarning around the edges of the 4 Corners Festival about their love of knitting. It didn't take too long for their love of wool and the Festival to spark an idea for a knitters event.

So in 2019 the first 4 Corners Festival Big Knit took place. I have dropped in to all the knitting events and the chatter and laughter and needle work always creates a real sense of a buzzing community.

In 2022 I was able to bring The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was so impressed by the vibe. He sadly didn’t have time for a bit of knitting himself. 

This knitting event has become a popular place for people across the corners of Belfast. While they do all the nattering and make new friendships they actually do knit. The idea has been to knit items useful to the city. The idea for hats and scarves for the homeless was the creative ambition.

So the knitting was not only good but good for something and after the Festival Janice got to deliver bags and bags of hats and scarves to The People's Kitchen.

So, perhaps I can declare the 4 Corners Knitting event the most industrious of the entire Festival. Not only are garments knit for others, but relationships are knit too. This event definitely weaves the city together. 

 

Knitting 4 Corners Together in on February 4th at 2.30pm in St John’s Parish 444 Falls Road Belfast BT12 6EN

Book Here NOW!

 


AWKWARD DANCE OF PEACE

Stocki and Marty Fitz Welcome

As we draw near to the 2023 4 Corners Festival with the theme Dreams: Visions For Belfast, here is a poem that I wrote a few years ago about the problems and the audacious dream of peace making.

 

Between the bloody dark

And grace’s redeeming light

Between the hate riled gloom 

And the rays of forgiveness, bright

Friendships can be messy.

 

Between the blowing up

And the pieces fixed on landing

Between the bleak black funerals

And the bridegroom standing

Friendships can be messy.

 

This is an awkward dance

With partners disconcerting

The tender tentative steps

With all our wounds still hurting

Take two up and one back

Move close to hold the seams

Swirl in the suspicious space

To soar in audacious dreams.


THE MUSIC AT THIS YEAR'S 4 CORNER'S FESTIVAL 2023

Ferna

KIRAN WIMBERLY & THE MCGRATHS

American Presbyterian minister Kiran Young Wimberly has this sensitive ear that can take beautiful traditional Irish and Scottish melodies and set on top of them the even older Old Testament Psalms. Finding the McGrath family from Dungannon helped put those songs on a stage and not only that they have now released 4 albums of Celtic Psalms. They will also be playing some Psalms at our BBC Radio Ulster Sunday morning service on February 5th at 10.15am.

Performing at:  Dreaming God’s Dream – Walking the Path Together - 7pm January 29, 2023 at Skainos Centre, 241 Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 1AF

 

FERNA

Ferna stretches and squeezes the bounds of the songwriter here with intrigue and quite original beauty It is a couple of months on from her winning Northern Ireland Music Prize’s Best Single of 2022 for Wasting Away and two months from the landing of her debut album. Two songs that she has written about Coretta Scott King will connect Ferna’s songs to the Dreams of this week’s theme. 

Performing at: We Have A Dream: Role Of Women In Peacebuilding - 7.30pm January 31, 2023 at  Clonard Monastery, 1 Clonard Gardens, Belfast BT13 2RL

 

ANDREW PATTERSON

Andrew is no stranger to the 4 Corners Festival where he has very often lit up an evening with his songs that all seem so personal but always speak universally about themes like hope and faith and love. Think of him as a Belfast Brice Springsteen without the E Street Band. 

Performing at: David Goodwin in Conversation with Mark Simpson - 7.30 Thursday February 2nd at Agape Centre, 236-266 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 6GF

 

RYAN VAIL

I’d be bold enough to suggest Vail as our most innovative musician. Though mainly working in electronica and modern classical. His award winning Borders album with Elma Orkestra that included guest appearances from Clannad’s Maire Brennan and Ireland’s trendiest poet Stephen James Smith.

Working with his friend Jonathan Hodge from Wonder Arts Ryan has written the soundtrack to Present Future.

Ryan’s soundtrack will be playing at Present Future - January 30 - February 2, 2023 at Telegraph Buildings, 1 Library Street, Belfast BT1 1FH.

 

DANA MASTERS

After years standing behind Van Morrison, Dana Masters is now front and centre in her own solo career. She has a Jazz voice to astonish with. Steve Stockman will be chatting to her about her family’s roots in the Civil Rights movement of South Carolina as well as her life now in the Dromara Hills… and of course she will be singing!

Performing at: In Conversation With Dana Masters - February 3, 2023 at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, 77 University Street, Belfast BT7 1HL

 

CONCENTIO

Established in 2005 The Concentio Chamber Choir, directed by Jonathan Ireland have been rightfully gaining a reputation for mixing the secular and sacred in the most relaxing of moods.

Performing at: The City Where Dreams Become Reality - 7pm February 5 at St John’s Parish, 444 Falls Road, Belfast BT12 6EN


PRESENT FUTURE - VISUAL EXHIBITION

Present Future

Present Future might be the most innovative and creatively imaginative event that we have ever had at the 4 Corners Festival.  The Telegraph Building will be filled with a visually vibrant interactive installation that will include a light show, cube as well as specially commissioned images and video narratives. The sound track has been specially commissioned too, by the amazing Ryan Vail. 

If it surprises you that such innovation and creativity has come out of young PUL communities then the event might be just for you. Our hope is that this will change negative stereotypes and give voice to young people very much unheard or even dismissed in our societal conversations.

The project has been a collaboration of Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts. 

Alternatives has a B.A.N.D project which develops young leaders in working-class PUL communities across Northern Ireland. The exhibition has been the practical outworking of training in creative project development.

Jonathan Hodge at Wonder Arts has been using visual arts and film to help develop communities for years, locally and internationally.  

“We went down this route because we wanted to present an important issue in a way that was creative and that was engaging to different audiences.  Digital technologies are also something that are particularly relevant to children and young people, so this was a medium that they felt comfortable with.  We also wanted to create something that was visually striking, made best use of the space in the Telegraph Building, and created a memorable experience for the audience and the 4 Corners Festival.”

So come along. The Cube is limited to 12 people her half hour so book 30 minutes and get interactive with the aspirations, hopes and dreams of young loyalists growing up against many hurdles including educational attainment. 

Just as it might surprise you that young loyalists have dreamed up one of the most innovative events in eleven years of 4 Corners Festivals so you might have your own stereotypes challenged. 

“We are really proud to be bringing the voices and experiences of children and young people to a major venue like the Telegraph Building, a mainstream cultural venue. The project is also about building the capacity of young leaders to challenge negative narratives and perceptions of their community through the creative use of media and arts.”  

Present Future stunning, memorable, insightful and  dreamlike.

 

BOOK A SLOT HERE


IN CONVERSATION WITH DANA MASTERS

Dana

The look on their faces.

Over ten years of the 4 Corners Festival I have brought various Fitzroy singers in for different events. They are always good. I think of Caroline Orr, Jonny Fitch and Dave Thompson. The committee trust me now to add a little colour to events. Always quality.

With the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaking at the closing event of our 10th Anniversary Festival in St. Peter’s Cathedral, I thought I needed something a little deluxe.  

The committee were confident in it being good but when Dana Masters opened her mouth and her God gifted voice filled the cathedral I looked at a few of my mates. Their mouths were wide open too! It was the sweetest surprise. Her voice was so other worldly that tears were running down my face.

Dana grew up in the South Carolina and though she went to Minneapolis to study music and then headed to LA, she claims that it was relatively recently that she considered music as a vocation. 

In LA she met Andrew Masters which was Northern Ireland’s blessing as she moved across the sea to set up home with the Vineyard pastor in the hills of County Down. 

I first heard Dana singing in Presbyterian worship bands. Next up it was with Van Morrison. In the latter she was astonishing, Van using Dana’s voice as an extra instrument for harmonies, duets and those call and response moments.

Dana Masters now stands as a solo artist in her own right. I wish a record company would throw 30,000 grand to her so that we might get the wonderful album that she has the songs to make.

Back to St. Peter’s cathedral last January. Her keyboard player had covid and her stand in had a gig elsewhere which left Dana to sing her last song unaccompanied. Her version of A Change Is Gonna Come had the Cathedral in silence and tears rolling down my face yet again. 

During the evening she had shared with us the story of her Grandmother Johnnie Ruth Jenkins a civil rights activist back in South Carolina back in the day. Granny has recently had a highway named after her. The story made me think. How I’d love to unpack that story at next year’s 4 Corners Festival. So we booked her. Right there and then. We never did that before!

In the last few years I have had the privilege to interview Gary Lightbody, Ricky Ross, Duke Special, Brian Houston and Iain Archer. It has tickled the fan inside me. I am just as excited about Dana Masters. From civil rights in South Carolina to life in the hills of Dromara, Dana will have much wisdom to shared under our theme of Dreams. And of course… she is going to sing! 

 

In Conversation With Dana Masters in Fitzroy on February 3rd 2023 - BOOK HERE

 


BELFAST GIANTS CAPTAIN DAVID GOODWIN IN CONVERSATION WITH MARK SIMPSON

Goodwin with Title

2022’s 4 Corners Festival had many amazing highlights. There was a video message from Pope Francis, an amazing keynote address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and an evening in Clonard Monastery with Carl Frampton, being interviewed by Mark Sidebottom.

That night with Frampton was special. It was vulnerable and honest. About life in sectarian Belfast and mental health as much as boxing success and World Title fights. It also brought a new audience to the 4 Corners Festival.  

For 2023 we are delighted to follow the sports theme with Belfast Giants’ captain David Goodwin. David led the Giants to big successes in the 2022 season winning the League and Challenge Cup. 

There was no guarantee that David would return for another year but he did to Giants’ fans’ delight. In speaking about that decision to return to Belfast David, a native of St Louis, spoke so fondly of the city and its people. Many sportsmen and women have to make other places their adopted cities. For our Giants captain it seems to be about more than just the SSE and the fans inside! He loves the craic!

To interview David, we are delighted to have Mark Simpson from the BBC unbelievably doing his first 4 Corners Festival event. Mark will be asking David about the importance of ice hockey in his younger life, how he made it his career, when he first decided to come to Belfast and how that has been. 

The theme for this year’s Festival is Dreams; Vision For Belfast and Mark will ask David about that too. Captain of a city’s successful sports team can give you influence. With a father who was a bridge builder does David see himself doing some of that too? How do Belfast Giants bring the city together?

You will not need to be a sports fan to enjoy this conversation. If you are a sports fan it is a gift of an evening. If you are a Giants fan then it is essential!

 

David Goodwin In Conversation with Mark Simpson will take place on Thursday, February 2nd at Agape Centre, Lisburn Road - 19:30

Tickets for 4 Corners Festival available