Wensum, by Jim Harding, June 28, 2016

Purcell Concert, Christ Church,  Fulmodeston ANL-160623-133326001
Purcell Concert, Christ Church, Fulmodeston ANL-160623-133326001
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Impulse Outreach Group concert at Christ Church, Fulmodeston

Picture by Martin Wess

Their annual jaunts to our region include time spent in village schools as well as giving concerts, a hands-on experience which they clearly enjoy.

My acquaintance goes back some five years and I’ve never failed to be impressed by the outstanding talents of these teenagers. Christ Church, Fulmodeston, was again full to capacity, which must have delighted local organiser Stephen Miles. As he pointed out, music is a fantastic gift and has the capacity to take us all ‘out of ourselves’, something which we certainly need to do occasionally.

A bonus this time was the presence of special guest Anne Denholm, a former Purcell student, who is now the official harpist to the Prince of Wales. Her moment in the spotlight appropriately included two Welsh songs, The Ash Grove and David of the White Rock.

This is the second occasion in a row I’ve been at local concerts featuring the harp, which had me wondering how this majestic instrument gets transported to all these musical engagements. Not the easiest to carry under one’s arm.

What you get with these young people is a terrific range of expertise. The programming is entirely their own, giving each performer a glorious opportunity to ‘show off’ in the best sense of the expression. So alongside recognisable classical items we had flautist Daniel Swani recreating all manner of railway sounds on his instrument as he steamed through The Great Train Race, marching and playing right round the church to everyone’s delight. Trumpet player Marco-Natale-Miles switching themes with the moody blues jazz number Around Midnight, supported by improvised piano from Pablo Barrios. And cellist Noah Max taking us way out west with Julie-O, a blue-grass number which he played with his bow but also by plucking the cello strings to imitate both banjo and guitar sounds. To remind us all where we were, the whole ensemble provided a rousing version of Land of Hope and Glory for some audience participation at the end and, in tribute to the European Football Championships, an encore of the Match of the Day theme sent us on our way. Brilliant stuff.

n It’s all over now but I’ve just returned from the Referendum polling station, having voted for myself and by proxy for middle son who’s on Navy duty down in Plymouth. There were queues on both sides of the hall with the people I spoke to just glad to be finally laying this issue to rest.

Personally, I found that the positives and negatives delivered endlessly by both sides during the run-up served to confuse rather than clarify.

In the end I just went back over my own life experiences to help confirm me in my decision. Starting with the pre-teenage boy who had a pen-pal in St Malo, just across the Channel, who invited me to stay with his family. Sadly, but probably wisely, my parents vetoed this one. Then a couple of school camping trips to the Austrian Tyrol and the Italian Dolomites where the kindness of strangers made the ‘growing up’ experience so memorable. As an 18-year-old I hitch-hiked around Norway with a rucksack and enjoyed incredible hospitality. Later on, a cycle pilgrimage to Santiago in north-west Spain fostered an enduring affection for this country, extended no end by numerous exchange visits to Valencia accompanying Fakenham High School and College students. Oh, and did I mention that my daughter-in-law, an economics lecturer at UEA, comes from Timisoara in Romania?