8.30a.m. is a cruel time of day to start a rehearsal. Nicoline, Ian and I arrived at Langley Park School for Boys on Monday in time to spend a long morning working with eight young musicians in preparation for concerts that same afternoon and on the following day for older people in local care settings. Head of Music David Bullen not only conducted, but also played the piano, played the clarinet and drove the bus, and staff violin specialist Lisa Fry coached and played to complete the ensemble. Some of the boys had only been in the school a couple of weeks as brand new Year 7s, holding their own in a mixed group of violins, cello, flute, bassoon and horn, with Nicoline Kraamwinkel playing the violin and coaching the strings, Ian Fasham playing the bass trombone and coaching the wind alongside me, Margaret Archibald, on clarinet.
Concert 1: at St Barnabas Beckenham, hosted by Father Tim Hide, with a magnificent array of home-made cakes served by a team of volunteers and enjoyed by local people including a large contingent from the Abbeyfield flats across the road and a group of guests from Bertha James Day Centre on Bromley Common.
Concert 2: a cocktail showcase concert at Langley Park Boys’ School in the magnificent concert hall, the music enjoyed by parents and friends in a “happy hour” with Gin Giardino, Tempo and Fruit Sparkler.
Concert 3: after another early rehearsal to add a couple of extra pieces to our programme, a performance for residents at St Cecilia’s Leonard Cheshire Home in Sundridge Avenue.
Concert 4: afternoon tea at Prince George (Masonic) Duke of Kent Home in Chislehurst, where many of the residents still remembered the previous visit of Langley Boys in a noisier ensemble of woodwind, brass and percussion.