SAC Musicians back from trip of a lifetime
Posted: August 15, 2012
Entertaining crowds at the Summer Games was one of many memorable highlights of the band trip to London and Paris.
The School band returned last night from an extensive12-day performance tour to London and Paris where it delighted international audiences at various venues, including two concerts in the Olympic Park and a farewell performance in Paris.
“We felt so appreciated by the crowds,” says award-winning baritone horn player Sean Smith ’12, who is still processing the “incredible experience” just hours after returning home. He said people would come up to them after their performances to say how good they sounded and how much they enjoyed listening to their music.
Among the many highlights of the SAC musicians’ concert tour were two parades through Olympic Park in front of nearly 10,000 people; a performance in the Olympic Park Band Shell; a boisterous evening at London’s Hyde Park in front of over 30,000 celebrants; and an impromptu performance for passersby outside a London pub.
“It was just crazy in London,” enthuses Band Director Sandi Chasson, who worked for two years orchestrating this trip and is flying high with its success. “Every single aspect of this trip was amazing,” she says. The group, which largely travelled “like rock stars” on a double-decker bus, attracted attention with their look and sound everywhere they went.
Audience curiosity was piqued by a Canadian band dressed in kilts and blazers and they were captured numerous times by TV networks such as TSN, CBS, CTV and several European stations. There was even a brush with royalty during one parade when organizers timed the band’s march to pass directly in front of a car carrying Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
“I think piper Arun Partridge ’11 (one of three Old Boys in the band) has appeared on every TV station in the world,” laughs Sandi. Her own spontaneous interaction with Wenlock--the official mascot for the London Olympics--helping direct the band, was videotaped by CTV and clips of it were aired back home in Canada on the station’s CTV National News show.
“People just seemed to open their arms to us,” says Sandi. Their group was granted accredited access to Olympic Stadium whereas other bands were denied entry, and some persistent SAC band mates even got into Canada House, a venue for only athletes and their families, after singing “Oh Canada” on its steps.
In between musical gigs the 55 performers and their 34-member entourage, consisting of chaperones, parents and friends, broke into smaller groups to visit tourist attractions, trade pins with visitors from around the world, and attend live Olympic competitions.
Sean, a graduating student who leaves to attend the University of British Columbia in three weeks, played for SAC’s 1st Soccer team this season and was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch a women’s soccer match between France and Japan at Wembley Stadium.
Classmate Zachary Seto ’12 agrees the entire Olympic experience was awesome, and although it was somewhat hectic at times travelling in such a large group, it was a highpoint of his career at SAC. “Playing drums at the Olympics with my Andrean brothers; I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The tour finished up with a four-day side trip to Paris and a final concert in an old-fashioned but acoustically perfect band shell. “It all just came together for everyone there,” Sandi says, who admits to shedding a few tears over the beauty of the music, the extraordinary setting, and the life-time bonds that had been forged.
It was indeed the tour of a lifetime and the boys did Canada and SAC proud, demonstrating true school spirit and exemplary musicianship wherever they played. For an insider’s look at the trip, check out teacher and chaperone Michael Chadsey’s amazing blog. Watch videos of the Paris concert and take a look at a trip photo gallery.
Story by Cindy Veitch