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There's a song in the heart

LEST THE enquiring spirit of the times uncover my guilty secret I wish to lay before the sleaze committee of the Scottish Parliament that I received two free tickets for the Schools' Gala Concert held recently in Glasgow's City Hall , sponsored by The TES Scotland .

It was a wonderful evening of music-making that ranged geographically throughout Scotland and in the styles of music and the ages of the participants.

Christmas time often provides a show case for the musical talent and energy of a school, and there is no escaping the sense of community that is supplied by choirs, orchestras, wind ensembles, fiddle groups and jazz bands. The evening at the City Hall gave a focus to the talent and enthusiasm of the young people and the driven dedication of their teachers and conductors.

As the evening progressed, my mind slipped back 40 years to my own moment of concert hall fame - playing second violin for Govan High ' B' orchestra in the St Andrew's Halls (shortly afterwards they burn t down, but I maintain that was a coincidence). The piece was Mozart's "Il Seraglio", the competition was the Glasgow Music Festival - and quite possibly we were the only competitors in our category. This gave an illusory sense of achievement that allowed the headmaster to announce hat the orchestra had come first in its class at the recent festival.

My memories are blurred. I dropped my music as I placed it on the stand, and had a difficult job recovering it from the tier of the stage below. Mrs Whyte, our conductor, wore a black evening dress. And I was within touching distance of the viola player whose friendliness through the preceding months had left me smitten.

We all rehearsed on a Saturday morning in a classroom - secondary pupils and those of us from local primaries who had been dragooned by Miss Ferguson, the fearsome principal teacher, to join the orchestra as trainees.

Apart from Mozart, and being in love with the viola player, the big attraction was being allowed out in pairs to buy the mid-morning sweeties for the group from Harris's general store. Butternuts and sherbert lemons were the usual choice. The B orchestra with the bad teeth knew how to enjoy itself.

I jolted back to the future, or the present, with the applause for the final act, musing that although making cassettes or CDs and embarking on concert tours at home or overseas are the most likely expression of modern youthful music-makers, the continuing sense of shared enjoyment and enthusiasm seems to have lasted right through to the present day.

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