COUNCILLOR CAPERS- 4– 8th March 2010.

A musical treat was served up courtesy of Flintshire Music Festival last Saturday.  Chairman Colin Legg and I were guests of Festival Chair, Sylvia Taylor and Laurence Ralsthorne, Head of Flintshire’s Culture Services. I had known Laurence from Assembly days and a picture of us leaning studiously over a monitor can be found in my book, “Leeks from the Back Benches”.  Laurence beamed proudly when he identified his daughter as one of the musicians on stage. The programme opened with the Jazz Band who wearing black trilbies and shades romped through several toe tapping pieces with the pianist jumping up and down, whilst giving the ivories a real battering as he roared through the performance.  Next up was the Senior County Harp Ensemble, one of whom gave the stellar performance of the night.  Sophie was just stunning.  Abandoning the Jazz Band, she rapidly descended to take up post behind one of the huge harps and each piece was magical.  One really hit the “reel back in time” button; Paganini’s 18th variation which transported me back to the 50’s when I was a Junior Technician in the WRAF.  All those years ago, I found myself posted to back of beyond rural Lincolnshire where I had clandestine rendezvous with a young chef who fancied me.  He courted me with specially prepared greasy egg sarnies in his deserted kitchens.   I suddenly realised that Sophie was performing in almost every part of the concert.  Securing the brakes on her harp, she shot over to the String section to help out with three more exquisite pieces which was led by two violin soloists who both gave bravura & tear jerking recitals. Next act was the choir and with a bound across the stage, Sophie’s lovely voice soon resonated from the back row of the Senior Youth choir. The audience revelled in a medley of beautifully harmonised numbers, conducted by an empathetic Jean Stanley Jones.  The choir had performed at County Hall before the Chairman’s lunch last year and their musical feats just get better. Finally, Sophie was back on stage playing clarinet for the last part of the evening show when wind and choir and string came together for the finale.  We clapped even more loudly when the conductor praised this impressive performance that required mastery of three instruments and a lovely voice. Several of the musicians had just returned from a competition in Newtown earlier in the day and had just flopped down before their instruments and played. Many of these gifted your musicians will soon be flying to Prague for an international competition.  The instruments will trundle across country with a two day head start. The Prague audiences are in for something really special. We all wish musician and van God speed and our Flintshire competitors will be a hard act to beat. Talking of God, a service of thanksgiving was held last Sunday at St Deniol’s, Hawarden for those who serve the public.  The congregation was enthralled by more wonderful music, a mix of song and solos, from some who had played the previous evening.  Yet again, the talents of the musicians shone out, particularly the violinist who played with grace and aplomb.  Having finished the violin solo, she then laid down her instrument and sang for us.   I broke the silence by clapping heartily as the music lifted me out of the gloom of the past few days caused by my reputation as a hard working, tenacious and honourable community representative, taking a battering from dark forces in County Hall!  A quite time to pray and reflect at St Deniols which provided a small oasis of peace in deeply troubling times was much appreciated.  Thank you St Deniol’s for arranging this lovely evening service.

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