Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cornwall: The end

Our last trip to Cornwall was last weekend and I'm sorry that it is all over now. I had a wonderful time with the project and became very attached to (not to mention proud of) my group of kids.

We had an uneventful drive up to Cornwall and were back at the first set of cottages. This time we didn't have the uninhabitable in the winter cottage up on the cliff with the outdoor toilet and the coffin bathtub- but we also weren't entirely sure where the other cottage was... so that let to a very late night the first night as we kept trying to figure out where we were staying. I say "we" but I actually slept through most of that as I was in the first cottage.

Fortunately for the more sleep deprived members of our party we didn't have to get to the school until 4:30 the next day so we had a leisurely morning and then FINALLY had a chance to explore a bit of Cornwall. Emma and Jo went for a drive while the rest of us explored the sea side and countryside around our cottages. We were blessed with gorgeous weather (also a first for our Cornwall trips) and went on a bit of a hike. I played unabashed tourist and took bunches of pictures which are now up on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10933141@N07/

That afternoon we only got one and a half hours with our kids, and actually it was in the evening too- so they were knackered and we were all like "Ahh! You have to remember the piece because this is the only time we get with you before the performance! Ahh!" So it wasn't quite as much fun as the other rehearsals/composition times have been. But my group is still pretty great. It was nice that the piece worked out the way that it did too- because there were clear wind sections and string sections which meant that I could send the winds out to the hallway to remember what they were doing and I could keep the strings in the room and tell them to "play that again. Nice, now listen to each other and try to get the same sort of sound. Sit up straight" etc.

Sunday was the day of the performance. The pieces that we wrote were only one part of a much larger "Super Sunday" that happens once a month at the Tate St. Ives. It is an open family day with free activities for all ages to help them engage a bit more than they might usually at an art gallery. In one room they were writing stories, another they were making textured collages, and in my room they were making graphic scores. The 9 of us were divided up in to teams for the various gallery spaces. Heather, Jo, and I were lucky enough to be in the gorgeous room with the giant windows looking out at the sea and the beach.

As kids came into the room they were encouraged to take some crayons and a giant piece of staff paper and make a piece for us to play. We started as a cello, tuba, and bass trio and then broke up to turn into solo acts as the room got busier. It was so much fun, and really quite rewarding to do so many graphic scores in a row. Instead of straight reading what they had drawn, we decided to have them conduct it and point to the shape/color/whatever that they wanted us to play. We encouraged them to point in any order and to go back to sounds that they really liked.

I had two favorites from the morning. The first was a child who had drawn a pink cloud. We tried something together first and that was "pretty good, but it sounded like a dark cloud" but then his father asked if the tuba could be played with out pitch, just air. So then Heather and I wanted in on the fun so we started blowing into our F holes which A: made a great sound and was louder than we expected and B: made both of us rather light headed... It was all to the good though because then we were "perfect." And you can't top that.

My other favorite was a toddler who had scribbled all over the page. There was one small, purple scribble in the centre and whenever he pointed there I played a short, loud, rumble at the bottom of my range. He loved it and would point quickly at the purple dot before burying his face in his father's knee over and over and over again. It was so cool that he understood that he was controlling what I was doing.

Whew. So that was a long and satisfying morning- and then we had the performances! The crowd was pretty large at this point. My group played splendidly (though I really would have appreciated a chance to do a run through on the day of the performance) and everyone else did as well. Two of the gallery spaces were too small to fit the crowd, so they got to play their pieces twice in order to let everyone hear who wanted to. It was a lovely day and really such a wonderful experience.

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