Despite the unearthly hour, spirits were high when the coach arrived at 4:30 am to take the band members from Ashby on the long journey to Pithiviers. The actual journey could have been torture if not for the ongoing entertainment from various band members. Be sure, if there is ever an edition of "Ashby's got Talent" we will not be short of singing stars. Although I suspect Bohemian Rhapsody will never be listened to in the same way again.
Saturday morning and there were a few bleary eyes as we assembled outside the hotel, arranging for heavier items of kit to be transported to the town centre where we were due to play at 9:30am.
Everything arrived safely and we set up in the shady corner. Hoping that the sun would soon make it round to warm us up. Suddenly it became clear most people had forgotten to bring any pegs (an essential when playing outside) but Jackie to the rescue. The 1st half was well received, except maybe by the child living in the property behind the band who didn't need an alarm clock.
One local gentleman even brought a piece of music he had written for our Musical Director to take a look at - but it would have been difficult to play it as there was only one copy.
After a brief stop when coffee (and Pithiviers cake) were purchased, we completed the 2nd half.
That evening was the main concert in the church. A brief rehersal showed what a challenge the echo was going to be. Then we were off. Pomp No 4 went down extremely well as a starting piece and the church seemed to swell with the sound. At the interval the locals seemed amazed that we were an amateur band and many refused to believe it. A fact borne out by the lady who was looking for Adrian, the MD, to get his autograph on a programme (the fame!).
The 2nd half was even better and in the final piece, The Empire Strikes Back, the acoustic in the church made it sound as though we had brought more than just one French horn! Astounding.
Overall the programme had consisted of mainly contemporary music. We did stake our claim as being a British band by starting with a bit of Elgar but the rest of the set included the theme from Last of the Mohicans, a haunting rendition of Suo Gan with solo Cor Anglais and our first performance of Charivari, a fabulous piece by Malcolm Binney. It was a programme full of musical texture and contrast which showed off the band strengths beautifully.
Everyone agreed it had been possibly the best performance ever. Understandably everyone went to bed on a bit of a high. Sunday morning brought the spectre of another long road trip but we arrived back in Ashby safe and sound.
Thank you to the people of Pithiviers for making us feel so welcome. Bientot nos amis!