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First concert of 2022! And we are off to a Flying Start with the youth orchestra performing at St Michael’s Church in Teignmouth as part of their regular appearance in the Teignmouth Classical Music Festival.

We got there a little early so while our willing roadies warmed up at the back of the church, Rob took the opportunity for a kip in the van he hired (he does so like vans).

We had a great rehearsal and the acoustics in the church are fantastic. Ideal for small orchestras. We were soon able to disperse and explore Teignmouth and for the most part enjoy our food on the sea front without being mugged by the local seagull population for our food. Perhaps next year we will play Highlights from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.

During the concert we were joined by a couple of toddlers who enthusiastically helped us on triangle and drum with the Themes from the 1812 Overture. The “Cannon” played on our 5’ bass drum made them jump when we fired it.

During the concert we were delighted to listen to solos from Raph on Clarinet. Raph is a diploma level clarinettist who is with us for just a year and also from Amelia on Piano. Both pieces were beautiful and during Amelia’s solo Rob escorted a little girl from the audience to come and stand nearby so she could watch Amelia play. She was entranced and didn’t notice when he waved his hand in front of her face.

The concert was also a first outing for our new Tuba player, Oli who has joined us this term and it was fantastic to have more ‘body’ in the bass of the music – something we have struggled with for a few years. We have since gained a brass tutor “G” who plays Trombone and you can now feel the bass parts vibrating up through the floor as we play.

All too soon it was time to go home and we squeeeeeeeezed all the percussion into the van (if you are in the know we need LWB vans not SWB) and a crowd of parents and church goers helped guide Rob as he reversed round a tight corner known for shredding tyres and through a granite gate only 2 inches wider than the van’s folded mirrors. Rob says that was by far more stressful than concerts (mainly because he actually likes it when something disastrously funny happens mid programme).

The youth orchestra have already been invited back for next year so Rob is getting his thinking hat on.

Lockdown may have put a stop to our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2020, but we came back with a bang and celebrated them in 2021 instead with a fantastic Christmas Extravaganza featuring the music and animation of The Snowman.

It was touch-and-go all the way up to the concert date. Would be able to perform? Would the government lock us down again?

We were, short of parents to transport the equipment to the university so Rob hired an appropriately named van to collect the drumkits, timpani, tubular bells, more drums, keyboards and other random percussion from Okehampton, to Dawlish, the school where we rehearse and on to the University.

Rob loved driving the van so much he now wants one!

Once set up at the university (Rob got lost) we started out rehearsals and were overjoyed to welcome back some past members on strings, brass, and percussion.

Both the matinee and evening concerts were a success and our Junior Orchestra lead by Helen Patterson did us proud too in the afternoon playing Jingle Bells to huge applause.

Rob bought 100 music stand lights for the orchestra to read their music in the dark while performing The Snowman.

After over a year of online rehearsals, performances and, sorry to say, my incarceration in hospital having heart surgery we are back and running with a COVID Youth Orchestra of just 20 plus percussion and section rehearsals for the rest of the orchestra. We've been working hard this term to get back into the swing of things and are looking forward to our summer performance in Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth (see out poster and facebook for details).

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