15th March 1996 at 00:00
The union's 125th anniversary occasioned a more dignified performance last week: although the celebration concert of school music at the Royal Festival Hall was not without its own element of bathos.

Bracing themselves for a rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture", the audience found themselves presented with paper bags. At the appropriate moments - signalled by bearded songster Richard Stilgoe - these were banged to oblivion in place of the 16 cannon blasts in the score. Some form of pre-conference therapy, perhaps.

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