Band tour leaves flautist Iona fizzing

Published on: 01 Sep 2014

IONA CLARK, from Downend, a student of Winterbourne International Academy, tells of her visit to Germany, where she played the flute in the South Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra.


THERE is nothing like the feeling of beaming back at an audience on their feet, and of soaking up their applause as they yell for an encore. Especially if the audience has no idea what you just said and their appreciation is solely for your music. 

During the summer, I took part in South Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra’s first European concert tour. I had looked forward to it for months, as an opportunity to perform to a completely different audience from our regular set of parents, and to get to know the other band members better. 

We stayed in Oberwesel, a beautiful town in the Rhineland area of Germany, in a hostel which offered stunning views over the Rhine and miles of castle-dotted landscape. 

From there, we travelled to concert venues in Mendig, Boppard and Koblenz; the most exotic being the base of a dormant volcano, where we took part in the Night of the Volcano celebrations. There we were particularly well received when, after running out of other music, some members gave an impromptu Christmas concert and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town received the biggest cheer of the night. 

Between performances, our time was filled with sightseeing. We managed to squeeze in a leisurely cruise down the Rhine, visits to a ruined castle and an old mine shaft, a chair lift ride 1000 feet up, and even started a flash mob of Pharrell Williams’s Happy. 

I loved everything about being on tour - apart from the infamous impossibility of finding any still, non-carbonated water anywhere in Germany - and couldn’t be more proud of the group I was travelling and performing with. 

Before going on tour we were quite a close bunch, and our shared experiences while away - be it belting out  Frozen late at night on the way home from a gig, playing ‘free for all frisbee’ on the banks of the Rhine, or achieving the feat of cramming twenty people into a four person room - brought us even closer together. 

Any young musician interested in joining South Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra would be very welcome and should visit for more details. You don’t have to be mad, but it helps.

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