We arrived at Caen Memorial at 9am as the concert is at 10 in the morning. It feels such an honour to have my music played here. When the children arrive from Puits-Picard School, Caen and Flying Bull School, Portsmouth, Andy Baker and I do a warm up to bring them all together and raise the energy.
The concert began with Bartok’s Romanian Dances, and then Elgar’s Nimrod. It’s time for the children to come onstage now and they begin with two songs popular in France… one of which has actions… there’s a lovely moment as I see the four Portsmouth teachers in the front row All doing the actions in unison!
And now it’s time for Sous Les Pommiers to begin, and suddenly I feel really nervous. The children’s energy is vibrant and they sing their hearts out… All the musicians are wonderful and I feel that this work is being given the best opportunity to come alive.
Sous Les Pommiers is in four parts… the first about the gathering of the Armada around Portsmouth on June 5th evening before D Day.. Next comes Codes and Parachutes… A favourite with adults seems to be Parachutes. But for many of the children, belting out C’est Le Debarquement (It’s the Landings) with Jim Dvorak playing insanely improvised trumpet and Cedric on electric viola, is their highlight. Afterwards some French children come up to me and say “ La trompette… Il va rouge”!!
I’m interviewed at the end by Ouest France who write a very positive review the next day.
I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project from the teachers to the musicians, the organisers to the children and their parents. A wonderful experience!
This was the final part of a project that took place in October when the BSO Resonate Strings and BSO guest musicians travelled to Caen to give the French premiere of Sous Les Pommiers with musicians of l’Orchestre Regional de Basse-Normandie and pupils from a school in Caen.
The project was funded through an EU Interreg grant which was successfully bid for by Caen and Portsmouth City Councils. Our involvement in the project has come about through the BSO’s long-standing relationship with Portsmouth City Council, and in particular a previous EU-funded project which the Mini BSO worked on.