Cherry picking the best at Buxton International Festival
Cherry picking traditions from Russia and Japan Cherry-picking, by definition in English at least, is a bit of a brutal affair: grab the best and reject the rest.
But in other cultures, a far more subtle and romantic relationship with the fruit has blossomed, and Buxton International Festival has cherry-picked the best of these for 2019.
The romance behind Tchaikovsky’s lyrical opera Eugene Onegin will be underlined by Director James Manton’s inclusion of the cherry as a symbol of hope.
“There is a beautiful tradition of children picking cherry tree branches in the winter, placing them into jars of water and making a wish,” said James.
“If the branches blossomed, then the wish would come true. We’re using this as a core idea for Tatyana and her dream love of Onegin which diminishes on his rejection of her.”
The cherry is an even more potent symbol in Japan, where the annual blossoming is a signal for national rejoicing when the trees flower at slightly different times as spring flows across its islands, uniting the country.
Cherry blossom has a darker meaning, too: suicide rocket aeroplanes were named Cherry Blossoms for the way they fell on Allied ships in the desperate last days of the Second World War.
But it was an Englishman, botanist Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram, who alerted the Japanese between the wars to the danger their rapid industrial expansion and slavish pursuit of all things Western was posing to the environment and the trees which were so much a part of their culture.
His story is told by Naoko Abe in her book The Englishman Who Saved the Blossoms for Japan, which she will be discussing on July 19.
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