Friday, 7 April 2017

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play for Music For Youth at Brooksbank School Elland

winning performance 2009
Last year the Sparrows lost their rehearsal space of seventeen years. It was 1999, I was a parent, a teacher, a peri and a governor at City of Leeds so it seemed like a good place to place the band. Based at this school, and with half the band [as it will happen] coming from the school, we won through to the National Festival of Music For Youth in the Birmingham Conservatoire [now that does sound posh!] every year from 2005 to 2010 inclusive, and, as is well known, there we won the overall World Music Award  in 2009 and thus played at the Royal Albert Hall.
Chamberlain Sq 2010

25 players, 19 nationalities
Chamberlain Sq 2006

Royal Albert Hall 2009

marching onto RAH stage 2009

After 2010, despite our standards remaining as high, we never made it through again. We think there are just many more steelbands around, but were disappointed as a whole cohort came and went without the pleasure.

 . . . Although the Music For Youth team did recommend us in 2011 to the Southbank Festival Hall, London to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain and Trinidad All Stars Percussion Orchestra's first UK gig. So not all bad!

Here we played two sets with our two bands [Sparrows and Doves] and then led the other three steelbands in a massed rendition of We Nah Goin' Home. After which the man from Trinidad shook my hand quite a lot and said a lot of nice things.

aerial view of Sparrows 2011 at Festival Hall for Festival of Britain anniversary
leader Trinbago at Festival Hall
So we keep on entering, and different doors keep on opening, especially at Harrogate International Festival, and here we are again, this time at the Halifax Festival which is actually in Elland.

Meantime, City of Leeds has become an academy, and now an award-winning steelband doesn't cut the mustard. We did try another school, but the PFI firm weren't impressed either. It was November before we located the lovely Shire Oak Primary where we have been allowed to take root and flourish.

Cooperative Concert
And then enter the lovely Jess, Ronita and Ellie from the Co-operative Academy [ex-Primrose School], taught by v supportive Mrs Shaw. I taught our three chosen songs at their school, then in the three weeks leading up to Music For Youth, first Bella [from Roundhay], then Annie and Ella and Bella [all from Roundhay] came up to the Coop; Ronita and Ellie got over to Shire Oak.  . . . . .

Meantime, Claudia, not quite finished her run in Romeo and Juliet, comes for one practice, learns the lot; and Millie S, in her last year of "Youth" comes up from Derby Uni, does the same at a Foxwood practice at New Moorsides [thanks Raj for the rehearsal space] while a birthday party decorates the function room around us. Lol.

And on Sunday March 26th 2017, Mothers Day, here we all are at Brooksbank School. We are me and Bex with support from YiBai and Vicky, and parents: Ellie's mum and dad, Alice's dad, Annie's mum, Ella's mum, Owen's mum, Kirsten's mum, Bella's mum.

And here is Hazel and Vicky from Trinity in Halifax where I helped them set up their pans a couple of years back. We lend them YiBai for one number, and they play three songs that I gave them. Just too exciting!

The Sparrows were Georgia, Millie, Claudia, Ronita, Ellie, Alice, Kirsten, Annie, Isha, Ella, Owen. And they were awesome. We played part of Mozart's Symphony Number 40, Sean-Paul and Clean Bandit's Rockabye, and then Wings of a Dove by Prince Buster.

Every song was the best we ever heard them, and we couldn't have been more proud.

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