Musical Countdown to the Olympics
Posted: May 23, 2012
Rehearsals for the Music trip to the London Olympics stepped up this week, less than three months until the Games begin and fresh on the heels of both the Wind Ensemble and the Middle School Band winning national triple gold at MusicFest Canada last week.
“It’s going to be amazing, it’s a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” enthuses Sandi Chasson, SAC’s Head of Music, who takes 54 musicians from St. Andrew’s to London and Paris Aug. 2-14.
St. Andrew’s College’s Wind Ensemble was one of four Canadian groups invited to represent Canada and perform at the 2012 London Olympics. The invitation was extended after the band won national triple gold at Musicfest in 2010. Included in the group will be some members of the Pipes & Drums band, led by Brian McCue, and three music alumni – Arun Partidge ’11, Michael Brown ’10 and Alex Lance ’11. The group’s total climbs to 70 when accompanying faculty, parents, and family are counted in.
“Logistics will be tricky,” admits Sandi, whose search for accommodation started two years ago. The group will fly into Gatwick Airport and stay in Crawley, about 45 minutes outside the city by train. “At first I thought it would be great to stay in London proper but everything was booked years out by the Olympics.” In hindsight, Sandi thinks being able to “escape from the craziness” of London is a safer and less costly plan.
Currently, the focus is on perfecting the musical program they will play in up to six different venues in and around London. Though the actual sites have yet to be finalized, there is a good chance the group may perform at Exhibition Road, a large pedestrian mall in the cultural heartland of London; London Live at Victoria Park, a 30,000-seat outdoor theatre adjoining the Olympic Park; at the Weymouth Bayside Festival and the Peninsula Festival; and the bandstand inside the Olympic Park. They have also been told to expect a 2.5 hour security check prior to each performance.
When not performing, the group will have the opportunity to take sightseeing tours of popular tourist destinations around London and watch some performances and sports competitions inside the Olympic Park. The last four days of the trip will be spent in Paris where they will have one performance and spend the rest of the time visiting sites such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Chateau de Versailles.
But before they go anywhere, the band must prepare. Starting this week the musicians will begin rehearsing every Tuesday night and continue with this schedule until June when an additional night or two will be added. The three Old Boys have been given music to practice, but must attend a week-long band camp with the entire group just prior to departure.
The 30-45 minute program will have a real British influence to it, Sandi says, citing a Beatles medley, the Scottish piece, By Loch and Mountain, along with some other popular pop pieces. The Pipes and Drums band will perform their own repertoire of tunes then join the ensemble to play some combined numbers such as Song for Mary, The Maple leaf Forever, Scotland the Brave, and I Believe, the 2010 Olympic theme song.
“I’m just so proud of these kids, their energy, and their level of commitment,” says Sandi. “They will look great in their uniforms and sound even better. And they will all be able to say they performed in London during the Olympics. Really, how amazing is that?”
Story by Cindy Veitch