Echoes 3" The Royal Albert Hall London

Wednesday 18th March 2009

I woke up early on Wednesday morning very excited! Today was the day I was going to be singing at the Royal Albert Hall. I got ready for school and had to speed dad up (Who was being annoyingly slow!). When I got to school, everyone was excited and talking about what we were going to be doing that day.

The coach arrived at 10am, we all gathered together in the reception and our music teachers Mrs Horlock and Mrs. Hambly, then Mrs. Price out Deputy Head teacher and Mrs. Crook a year 3 teacher counted us to make sure that all 27 of us were there, we didn’t want to leave anyone behind. We then got onto the coach and started our journey up to the capital.

We were all chattering away and looking out of the window to spot the signs that we had made it into London! I was sitting next to Jamie, quite near to the front, it took us about an hour and a half to get there and when we did London was full of traffic, it was taking ages just to move about a short way. Eventually we could see the signposts to the Royal Albert Hall, there were lots of other coaches heading that way too. It wasn’t just Stoke Mandeville Combined School that was taking part; there were 57 other schools involved, and a band from the Aylesbury music centre as well as other orchestral groups. We stopped outside the hall and Mrs Horlock told us to stay together and try not to get lost! We had our photograph taken on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall. Our teachers then told us that we were going to eat our packed lunches on the hall steps, It was lovely and sunny (although slightly cold), and we ate our lunch admiring the splendour.

After we had finished our lunch we went inside the Hall ready for our rehearsal. When we got inside we were shown to a large room at the back of the hall and told it was our dressing room, we shared it with five other schools, but there was plenty of room. I met some of my friends who go to other schools which was fun.

We were told that we needed to go into the hall and listen to a talk from the composer of the piece of music. We got into the hall and I couldn’t believe how big it looked when you enter from the stage. It was beautiful, the detail on the ceiling and the massive organ behind us, the circle of seats for the audience to sit it. It was like one of the old Greek theatres which were based around a circle. It was much more impressive than I was expecting, and when the composer of the piece we were singing started talking it was amazing how loud her voice sounded. Her name was Helen Mitchell; she was born in Wendover and attended Aylesbury High School (Where I am going in September). She had composed a piece of music called “Song spiral”, which consisted of different types of world music. There was African, Japanese and Indian music incorporated into the piece. She told us all about the piece and explained that in between there would be some drumming and chanting.

We ran through the concert from start to finish and changed things to make it better. We were given torches to flash into the audience at certain points during the performance and also twizzle sticks to wave around as part of our act. We then went back to our dressing room so that we could collect our tea and we went into Kensington Park to eat it.

At this point I knew that my dad and my big sister Laura were on their way into London on the coach with the parents from the school, I was excited about this as I hadn’t seen Laura in a while. As performance time neared we all started to get a little nervous, but our teachers assured us that we were going to be ok. At around 6:45pm we were told that we needed to go and take our seats at the top of the tiers with the other schools, as our performance was to take place during the second half of the show. I was looking everywhere for Dad and Laura, but couldn’t see them. It turns out they were sitting in the grand tier (two floors down) directly below me! They told me afterwards that they had spent ages looking through the binoculars trying to find me and were disappointed that they couldn’t see me anywhere!

The first part of the performance was very good. We were welcomed to the Royal Albert Hall by Sue Imbriano (Director of children’s services for Buckinghamshire County Council) and Marion Clayton (Cabinet member for Achievement and Learning). We then sang the national anthem accompanied by the amazing organ which echoed around the theatre. The children taking part in the first half of the concert then sang Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd. (One of my favourites). The concert was then introduced by Petroc Trelawny a famous radio presenter from BBC Radio 3. Who talked about the evening and what wonders the audience had in store. Then the first ensemble began. The piece was called “The Sea” composed by Jane Smith. It was songs about life on the sea and the animals that lived in it. There were children dressed up in costumes and lots of fish ‘swimming’ around the stage.

At the interval we had to move ourselves from the top tier of the seating area down to our places on the stage. We had 20 minutes to do this, but at the same time the children who had just been on stage performing were on their way up to where we had just been sitting! Also to add to the chaos the audience were moving around the theatre as well, making their way to the bar to get an interval drink and pop to the toilet! We made it with about 2 minutes to spare; I was worried at one point that we were going to be late as we had to wait for the last of the schools to vacate the stage. At which point Dad and Laura were able to spot me, I however couldn’t see them despite trying, the auditorium was very dark and I could see shapes but couldn’t recognise people. I waved a couple of times at people I thought were waving at me, but wasn’t sure if it was them, they waved back enthusiastically though!

The second half started with some percussion music from the Buckinghamshire County Youth Orchestra and some songs from Aylesbury Music Centre Big Band. They did a song from the Blues Brothers called "Minnie the Moocher" and introduced the lead singer as a “Mr George Turnip”. He sang part of the song and we sang it back to him, he got the audience to stand up and join in as well. It was good fun and made everyone laugh.

Then came our big moment: the lights dimmed and the soft music started. We sang Scarborough fair and all through the night. We got to use our torches that we had been given, and for some of the songs we waved our twizzle sticks and even got to use them as oars as part of one of the songs. My nerves disappeared as we started to sing and I really enjoyed myself. I had forgotten that I was tired and that it had been a very long day. Towards the end of the performance lots of children came out of the back of the auditorium with African drums and dressed up in really bright clothes and our big finale was loud and exciting. The audience stood up and was clapping in time to the music, and we were all dancing on the stage. At the end of the performance balloons came down from the high ceiling and we all got a big round of applause from everyone and it was a real high to end on.

We then had to go back to our dressing room and pick up our things and head back to our coach. We couldn't believe it was nearly 11pm, and we had school the next day! We got on to the coach, feeling rather sleepy and worn out. The journey home was much quieter than when we arrived, some of the children had fallen asleep! We got back to our school at midnight where Dad and Laura were there to greet me. They said they had really enjoyed the concert and that they very proud of me. We then walked home which was about one mile from the school and we went straight to bed, as we were all very tired, but what a wonderful day it had been, one I shall never forget


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Photographs by my dad
Click photographs to enlarge