Well, there comes a point every year when I wonder if carting all this metal out of Leeds and into Ilkley is worth it, and whether arranging the adventure that is the 4.32 to Ilkley is worth it, when nearly half of them nearly always don't show!
And then we get there, but this year especially. This year we had four separate pan teachers, four separate schools plus Sparrows, and this year too, New Sparrows.
Wanda agreed to kick the proceedings off with Oulton. As it is SATs week, Oulton bring their Year 5s, so these wonderful children have been playing for just two terms. They play Frere Jacques, and Lazy Coconut, with Wanda percussing with claves. Superb.
Next Bex brings a Yr 5 and a Yr 6 group from Clapgate, South Leeds. They play Come and Sing Together and The Surprise. They too have been playing for two terms and both group use chime bars as well as pans. Absolutely beautiful.
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Next are my Allerton Grangettes. They are tackling Land of the Silver Birch, Michael Jackson's You Are Not Alone and Westlife classic, You Raise Me Up. Here, we are putting together for only the second time the after-school club and the daytime class. Not all were able to make it so Bex and I stand in. They make it through some tricky chords and song structures. I was very proud of those who had made the effort to get there and play.
LS14 Steel is Natalie's contribution from Beechwood and Beyond [ie Yr6 and ex-pupils]. They include Daniel the wonder-drummer who plays from the floor while the rest of the band is on the stage. Amazing. They play Candy, All of Me and Cecilia. Mind-blowing!
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Friends, we have not finished. Next is Bex's and my New Sparrows. Principally they are two ex-Oultoners who have joined Sparrows this year and are on a frantic catch-up curve. We play California Girls and Under the Boardwalk. So proud.
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Penultimately the Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows themselves. Well, actually out of a twelve strong band we are down to three! We have cornered the market in A, AS, and GCSE students. But instead of them being a pale reflection of themselves two months ago, we decide to present what they would have been like and we volunteer ourselves: staff and Foxwood Steel players to stand in as best we we can!
So actual Sparrows present are Millie S, Ashley and Claudia [Yr11 and mid two exams. Yo. [Claudia. She deserves a medal and good grades. Did her revision on the train.]. Bex is Millie C, Vicky is Naomi and Georgia, I am Chloe and Bella, Yi Bai is George and Sophie is the rest.
We play our Music For Youth set of The Entertainer, Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Hips Don't Lie, Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King. Forgot to take pics so here's one we took earlier of Sparrows at Harrogate.
And then everyone gets up for the massed band. And all play the Horn Concerto and In the Hall of the Mountain King [very easy version]. House down, adjudicator called it a proper celebration, said he knew how difficult pans were to play, how we should be better known, and . . .
. . best of all he didn't ask anyone to smile.
So we did.
And thanks to Liz, Blanche and co from the indefatigable Wharfedale Festival Committee, and Robert Marsh for his kind comments. These steelbands are funded and run from Leeds ArtForms and from Oulton and Beechwood Primary Schools.