Salisbury Area Young Musicians visit Saintes
In a world where the press tell us constantly that all youth are “hoodie” wearing hooligans bent on mayhem, it is refreshing to have an experience which so firmly contradicts that dreadful exaggeration. The people of Saintes had the opportunity to see how wonderful the best of youth can be when the Salisbury Area Young Musicians, otherwise known as SAYM, gave a concert in the town in the evening of Friday 25th July. This was part of a frenetic tour around Charente Maritime where they gave four concerts over four nights. To add to their difficulties the programmes played were different in each location.
They arrived in Saintes on Friday morning where they were met by Bridget Brennan from the Saintes Salisbury Amitiés and by our own chairman, Caroline Rippier, who was in Saintes for a few days. They were given a reception by the deputy mayor at which point Caroline was able to deliver a message of friendship to the mayor and people of Saintes from the mayor of Salisbury.
The musicians then got down to the work of the day. They made up three separate groups, the Salisbury Youth Orchestra, the Senior Wind Band and a jazz band. Many of the young musicians play in two of these with some playing in all three, usually on different instruments. In the afternoon the orchestra rehearsed in the Hall Mendes France, a rather austere concert hall.
The plan was that the concert should be held outside in the courtyard of the Abbaye aux Dames, a lovely location. However, after days of glorious sunshine the weather that day was decidedly changeable. Thunderstorms were all around producing torrential downpours but these were due to end in the early evening. Sadly at 7.30, half an hour before the concert was due to start it was raining so the decision was taken to perform in the Hall Mendes. Yes, you’ve guessed it, come 8.00 the sun was shining and there was not another drop of rain all evening. 20:20 hindsight is a wonderful thing.
A large and very lively audience turned up to hear the music. The committee of the Saintes Salisbury Amitiés had done a good job of advertising the event amongst their members. However, numbers swelled as the performance went on as passersby heard the music and came in to listen.
The orchestra began the evening with a Fantasia of British Folksongs, a most appropriate introduction of British music to the people of Saintes. This was followed by the finale of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony and the orchestra ended their performance with a lively playing of New York, New York. After a very smooth rearrangement of chairs and music stands, plus a change of conductor, the wind band began their set with the march Padstow Lifeboat, followed by music from The Lion King and ended with a medley of Abba songs, to which most members of the audience of all ages could be seen tapping their feet.
The jazz band ended the evening with a wonderful set of jazz favourites. Only a few of the SAYM members were in this band so the remainder sat with the audience. However, don’t think that they did not take part. Very soon they were dancing along to the music, leading the audience in supportive clapping and generally having a really good time. It added so much to the already vibrant atmosphere in the hall.
Sadly it was over all too quickly but the audience certainly expressed their delight and appreciation at the whole evening’s performance. All one can say is thank you so much to the young and talented musicians, and to their teachers, for putting on such a wonderful concert. They were the best of youth ambassadors that Salisbury could send to Saintes. Salisbury should be very proud of them.