With world events being what they are, the stimulations, provocations and consolations of Hay Festival have never felt so urgently needed. What a joy to come to one of the most beautiful places on Earth for the paradoxical experience of both escaping from and engaging with the big issues of the day. Hay has been my University of Life: I first came here as a curious 21-year-old; this is my fifteenth year straight and I’m beyond grateful for the myriad ways in which this singularly precious festival has shaped and enlightened my adulthood.

After years of interviewing authors and chairing events at Hay –in Wales, Colombia, Mexico and beyond – it is a real honour to be here for the Winter Weekend as an author in my own right, talking about my new book Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day.

Needless to say, though, I also remain a classic Hay ‘punter’. In the past 24 hours, I’ve heard fascinating talks covering such diverse subjects as human rights reform, the future of feminism, the difference between clinical depression and the generalised anxiety sweeping our ‘nervous planet’, the promise and limitations of the #MeToo campaign, and the truth behind Putin’s involvement in ‘subverting’ the 2016 US election and – perhaps, terrifyingly – our very own Brexit referendum.

I’ve also immersed myself in some candlelit Bach in the serenity of St Mary’s Church, caught up with beloved friends, colleagues and mentors, and been awe-struck anew at the beauty of the landscape. If I find myself homeward-bound staggering under the weight of various new books, I am simultaneously less burdened: I leave Hay Winter Weekend 2017 entirely lighter of spirit and soul.

Clemency Burton-Hill appeared at Hay Festival Winter Weekend on Sunday 26 November 2017 talking Year of Wonder.

Listen to Clemency’s Hay Festival Winter Weekend playlist on Spotify now…