Former-student-turned-director of the Sudbury Youth Orchestra, Jamie Arrowsmith, knows firsthand that music can really take you places.
He, along with 20 of his orchestra students and 20 of their parents, embarked on an English tour from June 29 to July 11, which saw them play five concerts in five cities in 12 days.
“It was a tough schedule, but the kids handled it really well,” said Arrowsmith.
The tour began in London, England, at St. George's Church on Canada Day.
Arrowsmith said the concert was really well received.
“We played a concert of mostly string music from British composers.”
The students also got a chance to go on the London Eye, visit museums and take a tour of the British Library.
Next on the schedule was a stop in Sudbury in Suffolk — Sudbury Ont.’s very own namesake. Arrowmith said that stop was his favourite place to play on the tour.
The Gothic church, which sits predominantly in the middle of the market town, now functions as a community hall where the Sudbury Youth Orchestra performed.
“When we rode into town on the bus as the church came into view, we could see they had a Canadian flag flying on the spire.”
The orchestra played to a packed house and received a plaque with the town’s crest from the mayor.
The next stop on the tour was Shrewsbury, where the orchestra performed in the 900-year-old Shrewsbury Abbey.
“Old stone churches are the best, they’re very expansive because the ceilings are so high. The materials don’t absorb the sound and the resonance lasts a really long time. You can hear the subtleties and the dynamic really well.”
Arrowmith added that none of the kids had seen a building that old, and that it created an atmosphere of awe.
Carlisle and Bolton were the last two stops on the tour. Because Bolton is just outside of Manchester, a tour of Manchester United Football Stadium was arranged.
“The students experienced a little bit of everything on this tour; sports, music, history and architecture,” said Arrowsmith.
He added that tours like these provide a physical connection to the music the students are performing.
“When they saw where the music came from it clicked — it made the music come alive in a way that it otherwise wouldn’t.