Day 7 – Bands and orchestras

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Monday 14th March 2022

Evening Session – 6.30pm: Bands, ensembles and orchestras

It was on this evening, two years ago, that Perform in Perth fell silent as the Coronavirus-19 Pandemic took hold of the world and lockdown began.

Since then, thousands have died, jobs have been furloughed, businesses closed, and schools moved to online learning. In time, vaccines have been found, blended learning and ‘the normal’ has been replaced by a ‘new normal’. Although teachers and children have returned to the classroom, disruptions continue as the number of coronavirus cases in the wider community has soared. Instrumental tuition, particularly for the ‘blowing instruments’ brought many challenges which tutors have risen to and overcome.

This evening’s entries to the Festival by bands, ensembles and orchestras is especially remarkable since they have been silent for the past two years – and only in the last 3 months has there been the opportunity for the players to come together.

Entries came from Perth Academy’s Ceilidh Band, the Perth High School Brass Band, the Perth Academy String Orchestra and the Kinross High School String Orchestra. As the war continues, the 25th Stirling (Dunblane) Boys Brigade Band, conducted by Fraser Boyd, dedicated part of their performance, the Great Gate at Kviv, to the people of Ukraine, drawing poignant comments from adjudicator John Wallace who himself knew that country well.

Larbert High School Orchestra was directed by Mis Bláithin Kerr and Perth Academy School Orchestra, by Mr Richard Waghorn.

Finally it was the turn of Perth Youth Orchestra, conducted by Mr Allan Young. String and percussion players in masks and the wind and brass players spread out across the stage to comply with the Concert Hall’s COVID-19 regulations. Only a few ‘veterans’ remained from the orchestra’s 2018-2019 season, which saw them on stage in Florence and at the Edinburgh Fringe. This was a much younger group of players, many of them new to the demands of playing in a full orchestra. Nevertheless this was a remarkable body of musicians.

Each day the Festival’s adjudicators have remarked how wonderful it has been to hear music being played live again. This evening’s adjudicators, John Wallace BEM and Mark Duncan applauded the young musicians for playing so well together in groups.

“You can only learn to play in an orchestra by playing in an orchestra. You must have been doing some speed learning because you haven’t been back for very long. Congratulations on your ear training, musicianship, leadership and team work.”

Among the trophies won this evening were – the Margaret Miller for for String Orchestras – won by Kinross High School String Orchestra and the George Annan Trophy – won by Perth High School Brass Band. Perth Academy School Orchestra was awarded the Jean Harkess Memorial Trophy.

Watch all the performances and their adjudications again – here:

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