Take one song, part three: The shape of a living tree:
So there we were: This was the first time the whole school came out to rehearse their specially composed song, ‘A Living Tree’. This was the first time music and voices were to be combined, with all one hundred and twenty performers playing as one.
This was an afternoon I’d been looking forward to immensely…
Entering the school hall to the sound of the parents’ band, it became instantly clear that this project is nearing completion: A crescendo was building, the kids were taking their seats, Mrs Foster was pacing, Mrs East was filming, and the anticipation was growing.
On seeing almost every child with an instrument in their hands alongside a clutch of parents also armed with instruments, it was evident that the last few pieces of the jigsaw were finally slotting into place.
And then it happened. The music began, and the tree came to life. Beautiful.
Seeing Will’s face light up from behind the piano as he watched his song ignite was an absolute pleasure, and the noise inside our modest school hall made by this not-so-modest primary school orchestra and choir was wondrous. Now, I’m not going to lie; there were a few hiccups here and there, and the recorder section grew a little over zealous at times, but overall, things sounded fantastic. It felt like a real privilege to witness this song come together for the very first time.
I feel it also worth mentioning here the huge benefits this project is giving the youngsters at our school. In many primary schools, only a handful of pupils will gain any tangible experience of musical theory and performance – especially on this scale. But today, seeing the lines of assembled children all behaving like a real orchestra, it was obvious this endeavour is rewarding each and every St Andrew’s pupil with such a blessed head start in an aspect so important to their creative development and learning.
It was also apparent how much of a parent-led project this is: There was Will (composer) leading the orchestra, Maria (musical director) conducting the singing, plus a host of musical parents scattered among the children. Not to mention Isabel who takes the photos; Ursula who produced the media; Lisa and the Friends who have engaged in publicity; myself who documents the journey; and Pete who puts it all up on the website. Then there are the rest of the parents, all doing their bit at home by practicing the songs with their kids. And of course, we mustn’t forget the ‘cool’ teachers who’ve been working with their classes to get them ready for the Abbey concert in just one week’s time.
And what a mouth-watering prospect that is: That moment on Friday afternoon when we get to hear this song performed in the magnificence of Bath Abbey. I sincerely recommend that everyone who can make it along on that day does their best to be there. It’s going to be a tear-jerking, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only will you witness the world premiere of this amazing song, but our precious ones will also be performing Benjamin Britten’s Friday Afternoons repertoire. We may not be lucky enough to see our children take part in something so magnificent again, so please don’t miss your chance to witness this. It’s gonna be magical.
So then, a final reminder: the concert is on Friday the 22nd of November, Bath Abbey, at 1.15pm. It’s free, so bring along whoever you like. See you there.
Text – Gareth Eynon (reception & year4 dad) Photos – Isabel Eynon (reception & year4 mum)
See the gallery section of the website for more photos of the rehearsal