Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Something I Found Funny

I was trying to find a cello piece and I turned up this advert which for some reason I find absolutely hilarious...I say some reason, but come on, who wouldn't find this funny??? At one point the guy even rubs an orange on his face!!!

PYO At Greyfriars Kirk

I hopped on a bus at Perth last Thursday along with an army of PYO supporters (and some members of the orchestra). Our destination? Edinburgh, of course, to see Perth Youth Orchestra in action at its Fringe Festival debut. Although excited to listen in on the Youth Orchestra's first concert since its trip to Florence, I couldn't help but fall asleep on the bus. I don't tend to mix well with vehicles of any kind, though I have to say, falling asleep is generally more agreeable than being violently travel sick...but enough about me. 

We arrived (somewhat groggily) in Edinburgh among the Fringe ruckus and hurried towards Greyfriars Kirk, just in time to hear the end of PYO's first piece of the night, Jig: Vivace - from the infamous St Paul's Suite. After fidgeting in the wings, waiting for the piece to finish, we hurried to take our places in the Kirk Hall. 

The St Paul's Suite was followed by a trumpet concerto composed by Alexander Aruturian, performed brilliantly by Magnus Pickering. I might say this in just about every review I write up about PYO, but the orchestra sounded brilliant. And I really mean it. I think it came down to a combination of skill and enthusiasm (on part of the orchestra and conductor Mr Allan Young) and the amazing acoustics of the Kirk, which left the pieces sounding crisp and clear. 

Interval time: food ticket paid for, I grabbed a cup of orange squash and scarfed as many custard creams as I could...  

After much scoffing of biscuits and beverages the audience returned to their seats to listen to Merran Kay's wonderful performance of Kol Nidrei on cello. Then the orchestra moved on to play the roaring beast that is Robert Smith's Inferno - as you can probably tell, it was my favourite piece of the night by far. I say this not because the other pieces were lacking in any way (because they weren't) but because the way Inferno was performed nearly threw me off my chair. The evening's performance concluded with a rendition of Salute to the Cinema and Les Miserables.  

As we travelled back to Perth, I couldn't help thinking that it would definitely be worthwhile for PYO to continue performing as part of the Fringe. I hold high hopes that they can build a larger audience, not just made up of the relatives of orchestra members, but of people who might not know the first thing about PYO except where and when they'll be playing. Or, perhaps, even better, people who have heard about PYO through the grape vine and are interesting in finding out for themselves just how good they are. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

On Saturday 27th, I attended the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. An event being hosted by the Bookmark Festival committee in order to raise funds to go toward the festival. For those of you who haven’t a clue what the Bookmark Festival might be, here’s where I do a little bit of explaining!

The Bookmark Festival is a brand new festival being held in Blairgowrie, organised by a group of dedicated volunteers. It’s going to take place on the 18th to the 19th of October this year and will feature discussion from well-known authors on their novels, poetry and what it takes to be a writer. Guest authors include Liz Lochhead, Fiona Armstrong (BBC news presenter), James Robertson and many more. Mairi Hedderwick, creator of the popular Katie Morag series will be among many authors hosting events aimed at younger children. So, the festival is for people of all ages, and I think (and hope) it will prove to be very popular. If you’re reading this and you happen to live in the Perthshire area, or anywhere close by, and are interested in learning more about the Bookmark Festival you can click on this link which will take you to the Bookmark website.

You can also book tickets for the festival via the website!

Anyway, back to the tea party. The weather was brilliant which was nothing short of a blessing seeing as the tea party was being held outdoors and I can’t imagine it going as well as it did in the pouring rain. I arrived with my friend (and co-blogger turned P.A for the day) Nadia, not being entirely sure on what to expect. I wasn’t sure how we would be received! Even though I am part of the Bookmark Festival (I hesitate to say I’m a member of the committee seeing as I didn’t help organised the festival or anything like that) I had only ever spoken to the ladies responsible for everything via email. I had in my mind for some reason that they would be aloof and look down at me for my lack of experience. When I arrived all those rather silly notions were completely overturned. Nadia and I were treated like old friends and everyone at the tea party was exceptionally welcoming. I don’t think I’ve actually ever met nicer people!

We paid for our tickets which automatically entered us in to the raffle, which had some fantastic prizes as I was told, and were then introduced to other committee members. I even had my picture taken with the Mad Hatter!  Nadia and I then went off to explore our surroundings. We were in a beautifully kept garden with a neatly clipped lawn which played host to five different stalls selling all manner of things. The second stall was the one we were immediately drawn to as it was selling cakes. Who wouldn’t make a beeline for something like that? I bought a lemon sponge cake (later on though) which I brought home and shared with my family who all agreed that it was delicious. The whole thing was eaten that evening.

After looking over all the stalls, taking part in the tombola – winning a prize each, and buying a book for £1, Nadia and I decided to sit ourselves down at one of the many tables laid out on the patio for guests. This was where we met John Swinney, a local MSP and Elizabeth Quigley, a BBC journalist and Mr Swinney’s wife. While I was talking to them I realised that I really should have brought along my Dictaphone so that I could get a few comments. Luckily I managed to get Mr Swinney’s email address and he emailed me these comments on the event:

John Swinney –

“It is fantastic that a group of local volunteers have taken the initiative to establish the Bookmark Festival for Blairgowrie. This will add another key attraction to the annual program of events in the area and I am sure will attract many people to come. Elizabeth and I have already bought tickets and it was a pleasure to be at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on Saturday to give further support to the venue.”   

Elizabeth Quigley –

“We are really looking forward to the programme of events and such a huge amount of hard work was put in to the event on Saturday and in to the production of the programme. There is such a wide range of attractions in the programme. I am sure the Festival will become a major event in the annual programme of Blairgowrie and Rattray.”

After chatting to Mr Swinney and Ms Quigley (a bit of a surreal moment), we were asked by one of the Book Mark committee members (who were all kindly serving teas, coffees and cakes) whether we wanted cakes to which the reply was obvious. One never refuses an offer of baked goods! A platter brimming with a selection of scones, cupcakes, a flapjack and a brownie was then swiftly brought to us. I wish I could say we were able to finish the lot, but unfortunately we weren’t. What we did manage to scoff though was delicious. I mean, I have never tasted scones like those in my life! Wow, is the only word that springs to mind. 

Later on we decided we were going to leave, but were persuaded to stay for the raffle draw. And I’m really glad that we did stay because we were then introduced to Sir William McPherson, who was sporting a Mad Hatter’s top hat, and his friends and invited to sit with them. Sir William told us that the tea party was “very, very fine.”

They were really lovely people and had so many interesting things to tell us. They were also very curious to know what exactly a blog was. It was hard giving an exact answer, how do you explain what a blog is? Well, I was asked what the dictionary definition was and I couldn’t give the answer then, so here it is now –

a web site containing the writer’s or group of writer’s own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images or links to other web sites – taken from 

When the raffle was drawn Nadia won a couple of CD’s and I won a ‘I love Blairgowrie’ mug. So I can’t say we didn’t leave empty handed. In fact, I came home that evening with the lemon drizzle cake I’d bought, two books (only £1 each!), the mug and a box of chocolates but more importantly I came home feeling lucky to have met so many brilliant people in one short day.