Friday, 4 November 2016

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows Play St Paul's Cathedral

Well, a few years ago, the adjudicator at the Wharfedale Festival handed the Sparrows a Festival winners sticker. The next thing I knew we were being to ask to play a Barnado's Event at Leeds Town Hall, consisting of us and other Festival of Festivals winners. Then another one, and then we play in Harrogate for the International Festivals Adjudicators Conference. Wherein I am asked to go teach in Sri Lanka. [Alas became ill, and that not happened - yet!] And now here we are at St Paul's, at the Gates of Death. [V dramatic].

first arrivals

Well, not so simple. We have to get players, staff and students out of schools and universities, time and book all trains from Leeds, Derby, Huddersfield and Manchester to arrive simultaneously in London [in one case, George only found out at Stevenage that he was actually on the same train as the first Leeds contingent! Lol!].

I go down a day earlier with van full of steelpans and drum-kit so as to make sure our instruments are southerly in place, and have also to stay over in London on the day itself. That is three days devoted to this one little, but lovely, performance. Has to be treated as an adventure.

We need also to plan our repertoire and rehearse our chosen pieces. Alas again. We have lost our rehearsal space of the last seventeen years, and not able to get into the next one without jumping through a few bureaucratic hoops. Luckily Shire Oak School Leeds offers us a rehearsal venue  [thanks Jane and Liz], and we are also able to hire a space at All Hallows [thanks Beanz and co], Hyde Park [Leeds].

Rehearsing at All Hallows with East Steel

Alas again. These come too late for the uni Sparrows and so some of them are about to sight-re-read some of the tunes at St Paul's in London. Just as well they are such excellent players, and the others are able to practise. East Steel agrees to support the Sparrows rehearsals by playing the tunes-in-common with them.

Finding out from Jane at the reccy that quiet playing will just get lost, I ask Varshika, Amy and Vicky to join us [me-Victoria, Bex, Millie S, Millie C, Chloe, George, Georgia. Claudia, Alice, Bella, Natalie]. Sophie appears as a carboard cut-out - literally! Lol!

Simon L tells me there's an eight second delay, and just to play to play and hold our nerve. Eight seconds. We can't imagine how that will sound. In the event, we love it. Finish the song and listen to it roll on.

Diane comes as support. Parents and other relatives are Jenny plus her mum and sister, Sarah and Rosie, Judy. Grafton, Charlotte and Skye come from London. Grafton makes and tunes our pans, so great for him to hear them in action.

I am just driving to Clapham Junction when George phones from Euston; I pull over [not easy when you're on the red route!]. He has two choices: leg it down to Kings Cross and join the Leeds contingent, or stay in Clapham Junction. Diane gets him another ticket and he survives to get to Uni the following day. I don't have to share the wine. And it needs more than one glass to celebrate an event such as this. Thanks to Jen for asking us, thanks to the schools who let staff and students out, thanks to Sparrows old and new] for being so wonderful.

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