It was with much anticipation that we arrived to begin rehearsals for New Zealand Youth Symphonic Winds’ tour of the South Island. We met in Christchurch, with a full host of 40 musicians converging on the halls of Rangiruru Girls’ College.
Rehearsals were intense and by lunch everyone was in the full swing of what it must be like living the life of a professional band musician. Under the gentle yet determined batons of Musical Director Helen Renaud and Assistant Musical Director Alex Eichelbaum the band got through its first day of rehearsal relatively event free and then settled in to Urbanz, where they enjoyed a couple of card games and a good night’s rest.
Day two saw the rehearsals intensify in readiness for the evening concert looming in the day’s future. By now the band was well-accustomed to hard work and as a reward for this show of maturity and perseverance, we went to Margaret Mahy Playground where fun was had by all, including Kathleen Mulligan, our fun and energetic organizer.
The beautiful Knox church was an ideal setting for the programme the band played. The audience was appreciative and the quality of music was top notch. But the concert finish was not the end of the evening. It was pack down time.
Truck loaded and all participants rather tired, we all headed back to the accommodation for much deserved sleep and relaxation. Day two, TICK. Concert one, TICK. Bring on day 3!
The morning of day 3 saw the bus loaded with restless musicians rearing to get the days rehearsal underway. On arrival at the Rangiora Town Hall we were greeted with a lovely stage with great acoustics, and a friendly town. Lunch saw much of the band descend upon the famous Rangiora Artisan Bakery, where we were treated to almost any kind of baked goods you can imagine.
The concert at the Rangiora Town Hall saw another stellar performance by the band and a great time was had by all who attended. We packed the truck and bus and headed back to Christchurch for the final night at Urbanz. A few games of pool and some friendly games of cards and the band slowly started to retire until there were only the night owls left.
They too were off to bed after a sound whipping at the newest band craze, Picture Snap, of which the band manager happened to be particularly good. Well-deserved sleep was had by all, and it will be needed, for day 4 saw the band travel to Nelson. An early rise on day 4 saw sleepy exits from well used rooms at Urbanz. The bus arrived at 8 and by twenty past we had herded the last of the band onto the bus and were off to Nelson.
But as a treat for all of their hard work, the bus pulled in to Hanmer Springs for a much deserved (and hugely anticipated) swim in the pools! A quick two and a half hours at Hanmer and then we were back on the road.
We arrived in Nelson in time for dinner. A quick soundcheck after dinner and then it was time to suit up for the last time on tour. The elegant Nelson College, steeped in history and tradition, was the stage for the last concert of the NZYSW South Island tour. And what a stellar concert it was! The tour ended with the rapturous applause of a small but appreciative Nelson audience. All that was left to do was wander around Nelson the next day waiting for flights and transfers out. We knew we’d see each other for the lunchtime concert at Festival.