A few months ago some daft person had the grand idea that wouldn't it be a fab thing if the School Choir and Past Pupils did a musical fundraising evening...a.k.a. a Concert.
The School Choir is exceptionally good, has been going strong since 1986 and performs regularly.
No problem there so.
The Past Pupils?
Are ya mad?
Well, after a couple of months of hard work, it happened, was successful and was actually great fun.
The school Choir master undertook to train up the Past Pupils, and, as I have mentioned previously I fear we had not improved with age . Poor A. suffered for the cause, jollied us along without losing the rag, tried to avoid covering his ears too much of the time, and announced he had a ticket booked for a quick escape before the concert if we didn't get our act together!
When one has such a diversity of people involved in an evening the potential for unstructured disaster is huge. If too much time is wasted the audience become bored and the evening is judged a disaster whatever the quality of individual acts. Well, the school Choir has in the region of sixty teenagers, the Past Pupils about twenty five people, there were at least four solo singer or instrumental acts, the pianist had an exam in Dublin in the morning and couldn't arrive til 6pm, there were several small singing groups, the school Ceili band, a three generation family group, school and adult instrumentals, and others. Despite the adults' best attempt at sabotage by wandering out into the auditorium to see what was going on in between their songs, the stage Manager (one of the teachers) somehow managed to keep everything moving swiftly.
The atmosphere was more festival than Concert, to the extent that, after the interval the teacher/stage manager had to practically boss the audience back to their seats they were so busy catching up with each other, and at the end no one wanted to leave. Chairs being stacked and the hall cleared was just an invitation to move more freely and chat longer!
For me the experience was an eye-opener on several levels. The fact that every single performer was a pupil of the school- past, present, and one future, with a huge disparity in age all working together without personalities intruding, says a lot for the long-term school ethos: whether or not we knew each other at school we had no problems slotting into a working whole. I counted four participating members of staff who are past pupils and I know there are other past pupils on the staff too- what does it say when a school is prepared to hire its own past pupils? For myself it was a holiday from the demons in my own head because I was just myself. Call it regression, time out, unrealistic, but it was peaceful being with people I knew who just took me as I was in the present moment.
People complain about the lack of continuity these days, but in some ways we are privileged by where we live on the western edge of this western island. The school moved into its present premises mid 1700s but had been going since the mid 1600s elsewhere. Some families have the names of generation after generation carved into the brick wall out the side! Narrow- minded, small town country? Perhaps...but also a knowledge of place, self, and identity in the continuum...my grandfather knew your uncle who knows her aunt and now I teach your children...
...and was that your uncle's cousin's aunt's grandson playing the violin so beautifully?