Sunday, June 18, 2006

Music school concert

Although we've been here over eight-and-a-half years, and the boys have done a lot of music in that time, we had never been to a teacher's end-of-year concert or recital. This is because they learned piano from friends, Dan's clarinet teaching was attached to the Larnaka Municipal Band, and Tim's guitar teacher, although attached to a music school, taught him privately. The same was true of Daniel's drum teacher. We went to some municipal band concerts, as well as seeing them marching several times, and also had a few mini-recitals at church or home educators' events, but we thought our days of listening to dozens of students from beginner to advanced, in a lengthy programme, were over.

We were wrong. When Tim started taking singing lessons last September, he did so at a music school. Last night was their end-of-year concert, held at the Municipal Theatre. Not just a random set of music, either, but themed around music performance and musicals through the ages. Tim was singing - of all things! - 'The Hippopotamus Song' by Flanders and Swann (also known as 'Mud, Glorious Mud') as a represenative of the 20th century/jazz era.

We were presented with a very nice-looking printed programme when we arrived, in English and Greek. We did notice a few unfortunate typing mistakes, and were amused to see a beginner pianist billed to perform Beethoven's 'Joy to the World'... which, of course, should have been 'Ode to Joy'. Nevertheless, the overall effect of the programme was very professional.

So was the start of the concert. Chairs and footrests were in place for guitarists, and the curtain drew back to reveal children in appropriate costumes for the baroque/classical era. Adults dressed equally grandly walked in, two by two, and walked around the stage eventually settling in different places awaiting their turns. The first performance was a brilliant violinist playing 'Ave Maria' - possibly the best item of the evening, but then the violinist was in fact the violin teacher, not a student. A piano student was accompanying her.

There was then a nice mixture of beginners and more advanced students, with the vast majority being either guitarists, singers or pianists. Strangely, all the pianists and most of singers were girls, while nearly all the guitarists were boys. As each performer finished, he or she bowed and moved off, then another was announced and moved quickly to his or her place. We were impressed.

Unfortunately, this planning only seemed to go as far as the first half hour. The second section, supposedly romantic/impressionistic music, included - bizarrely - a song from 'The Sound of Music'. Students were no longer dressed in period costume, and no longer on stage in groups, so there were sometimes lengthy gaps between pieces. The curtains seemed to take on a life of their own, opening and closing apparently at random, and there was a computer projected onto the backdrop, showing classic bits of film (without sound) to accompany some of the performances. During the 'Sound of Music' song, part of the film was showed. Unfortunately, although the singer was singing the title song, the film showed the von Trapp children singing 'So long, farewell'. Then there were several times when the Microsoft logo was projected onto the backdrop, even less relevant!

The highlight of the evening was two little girls, who could not have been more than about six years old, dressed in brightly-coloured Russian peasant costumes, doing a little hankerchief dance and song in Russian for the start of the '20th century' section. They were delightful, and one in particular turned around and waved her hanky to the audience on the way out. They probably attracted more applause than any of the other acts!

Tim sang his song confidently, although I doubt if the mainly Cypriot audience really appreciated the words:

We stayed about half an hour longer, particularly enjoying a choral trio and a couple of items from 'Oliver'. However we decided not to stay to the end, and since people were coming and going all the time, and we were at the end of a row anyway, it wasn't difficult to get up and leave.

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