I am in year 10 at Wadebridge School, and I play in Triggshire Wind Orchestra conducted by Janet Elston… and this year, along with Budehaven Voices and Bodmin College Jazz Orchestra, we went on tour to the beautiful Lake Garda. This is how it all went:
As you can only imagine, the trip started as frantically as any other would. Over 120 staff and students filled two huge coaches, a trailer and a ski box – trumpets, tenors and timpani alike were crammed into such a tiny space. I think it hit us then, the sheer scale of the operation that we were now a part of, but this didn’t stop the excitement from escalating. Equipment loaded, teenagers settled and all around nerves conquered, finally we were off – and we were going to Italy!
Except for the inevitable disappointment due to the lack of USB ports on the Bodmin/Wadebridge double decker (Bude could charge their phones, boo hiss) 30 hours of travelling east through Europe was completely and utterly worth it. At the sight of the glistening outdoor pool overlooking the Garda Mountains things were looking up after a terrible night’s sleep on the coach. And what a week we had!
Firstly, we had our concerts. Not many words can describe the unforgettable atmosphere we all experienced those three evenings. Our venues were all so scenic and picturesque – the dainty little Italian squares of Lazise, Pastrengo and Garda were such generous hosts, providing the mightiest and most enthusiastic of crowds (and optional watermelon). Starting it off were BCJO each night – the developing favourite for me, namely ‘Minnie the Moocher’, got even the least tuneful among us and the public to sing along with the ‘hi-dee hi-dee hi’s’ and ‘ho-de ho-de ho’s’. Next up were Budehaven Voices; their gentle but pitch perfect take on Fleet Foxes’ ‘White Winter Hymnal’ gave me goosebumps every time. And bringing up the rear were us, Trigg, the outstanding classic of ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ to top it all off – but in fact, due to encores, the piece that ended the whole tour was actually YMCA! Who knew we’d be dancing along to the Village People in a remote Italian village?
Secondly came the action packed days out. Highlights include: a spectacular 1780m ride up the mountain Monte Baldo and a ferry across Lake Garda to the village of Limone, entertaining albeit terrifying rides at the theme park of Gardaland, sightseeing in fair Verona including the amphitheatre and the Romeo & Juliet balcony, and of course not forgetting Janet’s ingenious multi-purpose flat cap with an automatic solar powered fan attached to the top. We did so many things in the space of three days, it was incredible, however there was always just enough time for us to relax by the pool most evenings and enjoy a full meal provided by the hotel. As many of the teachers admitted, I think we will all miss cake for breakfast.
Thirdly, and for me most importantly, this year’s Italy trip has provided us all with an unmissable chance to make friends to last a lifetime. Still I am amazed at how such a simple thing like music can bring hundreds of people together, our adventure this July thus proving the ultimate theory. So maybe there were a few minor blips on the way – one of our double bass players was hit in the head by a ski box shelf and a whole coach load of us were stranded in Switzerland for a while when the air con broke down – but hey, it was all good fun, right? How nice it was to catch up with friends who were past members of CYWO, how enlightening it was to get to know people with similar plans and ambitions from other schools, and how the genuine glowing feedback we received – from the public, our tour guides, even our coach drivers – could only encourage us even more to carry on these developing talents we have for music.
In conclusion, I guess this crazy plan for a holiday actually went quite well. Here’s to the next trip! Anyone fancy a European tour?