I've been in Northampton again today, checking out how the Northamptonshire Youth Orchestra is developing this year. This particular ensemble is going to be bearing the brunt of the Nene composition, so I wanted to see where the overall strengths and weaknesses were. They're a really good orchestra and were tackling a programme of incredibly tricky music which included the fiendish but wonderful Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
My date for the evening was Tash, my old bestie from Youth Orchestra days. Tash played the double bass in pretty much every ensemble going at the music school.
The concert tonight featured the three county youth orchestras. As a young player, you work your way up through the ensembles, starting with the junior orchestra. The fact that there are three orchestras gives everyone, particularly the young ones, something to aspire to. I remember watching the Youth Orchestra at concerts at the Derngate, and thinking, "one day I'll be just like them..." In fact, I remember watching them playing the symphonic dances from West Side Story and thinking how glamorous they all seemed. It's funny how the repertoire doesn't change. The only thing which seems to be different is the decor at the Derngate, which used to be 1970s orange and brown but is now a sort of tatty-looking range of purples.
Tash and I ate cheese after the concert at the little cafe-cum-bar attached to the Derngate. It's actually a really lovely idea. They have a cheese counter in the pub, and you can select either three, five or seven cheeses which come with delicious breads, pickles, grapes and biscuits.
At Matt's birthday last night, I spent some time talking to my good friend Sultana, a young Muslim woman who has a solo line in our wedding film. The line she sings is "I've blown off a hen-do" based on the fact that she cancelled plans to go to a friend's hen do so that she could come to our wedding. She does have quite a strong London accent, however, and we learned last night that she's had the piss mercilessly ripped out of her ever since the show was broadcast because people misheard "I've blown off a hen-do" as "I've blown off a Hindu!"