First Salon North event – a heady cultural cocktail

17 April 2012

Last Thursday, one of London’s most talked about events came North, with an evening at the beautiful Jakes restaurant in Harrogate. Salon North, presented by Harrogate International Festivals in partnership with SalonLondon, promised to deliver an event like no other and the outing of the North’s first ever event of its kind did not fail to impress.

Expert presenters, hand-picked from the three disciplines of Psychology, Science and the Arts, shared their skills, spilled their secrets and gave the Salon crowd an exclusive peek in to their specialist fields. Selling out in just a few days, the friendly open-minded event played out to an intimate audience of just over forty avid listeners.

With each 30 minute slot designed to make a better, more informed, more engaged ‘you’, the whole experience was navigated on its course with a generously proportioned Spanish gin and tonic, handed to audience members upon arrival.

The evening of Thursday April 12 kicked off with a talk on star-gazing from Dr Emily Winterburn, writer of ‘The Stargazer’s Guide’ and former curator of Astronomy at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, who led a whistle-stop tour of the constellations and planets decorating Yorkshire’s spring skies, leaving the audience sure to never look upwards in confusion ever again. Dr Winterburn also wowed the audience as she revealed the interesting connections between ancient mythological names for certain stars and Harry Potter characters.

Next up, blinking the stars from everyone’s eyes, Europe’s leading expert on the fascinating art of Mongolian Throat Singing, Michael Ormiston, had the whole audience on their feet making strange vowel noises as he explained the harmonics behind the strange whistling multiphonic chants. Thought to have been developed as a human mimicry of the sounds of nature, it has long been practised in the wide open plains of southern Asia. Multi-instrumentalist Michael travelled to Mongolia to master this craft in the 1990s and became the only European to be granted permission to teach this ancient and moving overtone singing. A wildly interactive introduction into the wonderful world of khooii, this slot tested the skills, and developed new talent in some cases, of the friendly crowd.

To round off the evening, forensic psychiatrist Kerry Daynes had the audience eyeing their nearest and dearest suspiciously, as she explained the four key ways to spot a highly functioning psychopath. Incredibly informative and entertaining, Kerry explained the differences between psychosis and psychopathy, and explained that the latter is far from a diagnosis confined to criminals many of the most successful members of society – particularly in high-risk sectors like investment banking – display psychopathic tendencies. Kerry’s work has discovered a significant 1 per cent of the population is a highly functioning psychopath, which statistically means there’s one in your office, your family or Facebook!

The audience left Jakes in enthusiastic high spirits. This heady cultural cocktail will return to audiences in the North of England over the coming months, with forthcoming events in June and July.

Full information will be made available on the Festival’s website here over the coming weeks If you crave something a little different, with a friendly crowd and some of the UK’s most interesting speakers, Salon is most certainly for you…

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