For the past few days, Collette and I have been travelling through some of the most beautiful parts of North Wales with a wind octet made up from members of Ensemble Cymru, bringing experiences of Classical Music to communities come rain or shine. I am in fact, sitting in a chapel in Cilcain as I type this, the weather may be abysmal but the rehearsal – of a particularly meaty Ferguson octet for a performance this evening in the village, is sounding first-rate.
As fantastic as the concerts have been this tour is also about showcasing the wonders of western classical music to audiences, that may otherwise find it difficult to engage with the music. Yesterday for example, I went along to an extremely pleasant school in Cricieth called Ysgol Llanystumdwy to partake in a workshop with Llinos on bassoon, Marcus on Violin and Tim on piano. The children there (all 30 or so) were incredibly engaging and seemed to really enjoy the mini concert given by the group. The musicians gave a brief history on their instruments and demonstrations on how they can be played.
From here we went to a care home called Bryn Awelon (also in Cricieth) where we gave a well-received recital to a collection of elderly enthusiast who really seemed to take pleasure in hearing live music. One lady even came up to us at the end and told us of her days playing the cello and how much ‘delight’ it used to give her.
This morning I accompanied the same group of musicians to another delightful school in Colwyn Bay called Saint Josephs to give the same school workshop as in Cricieth.
We were met here with the same amount of enthusiasm as Ysgol Llanystumdwy and the workshop was met with equal amounts of enthusiasm and gratification. It also clearly meant a lot to the children, who were enthralled with the live music unfolding around them. Mr. Wilkinson (the Deputy Head of the school) even commented that; ‘you rarely see the whole of year six interested in the same thing for so long!’ The highlight for me had to be watching 29 children all marching along to a rendition of Joplins’ The Entertainer and 1 child at the back trying to excitedly river dance to a rag from 1902! Though this highlight is rivaled by another child who, having been told that Marcus’ violin was made in 1774 in Florence, approached him at the end (having done some impressive mental arithmetic for an 8 year old) and proclaimed that this made the violin 239 years old.
As I said at the beginning, this evening we will be playing a fantastic program of music in Cilcain and then tomorrow we shall be travelling to Holyhead for a concert in the Ucheldre Centre before finishing the tour off in Venue Cyrmu. It has so far been a fantastic few days and I’m sure tomorrow will be as equally exiting