Tuesday, 26 October 2021

View from the wings

ON Wednesday, March 18, I was lucky enough to watch the Henley Youth Festival Proms, the

ON Wednesday, March 18, I was lucky enough to watch the Henley Youth Festival Proms, the first of four nights of Henley’s young people showcasing their performing arts talents.

I had the best view in the house as I was one of the assistant stage managers, watching from the wings.

I always enjoy being backstage at HYF. It makes the performances more special when you see the nervous musicians beforehand â?? and the adrenaline that they bring with them as they come off stage.

Often the same people come back again each year to perform, so I find that you will always see lots of people you recognise, adding to the friendly atmosphere surrounding HYF.

The performers were aged 11 to 18 and there was a wide range of ability, although the standard is always very high.

The audience was made up of family and friends of the performers and curious members of the public.

Performers enjoy performing at HYF because it is the perfect place for young people to show off their talents in a non– judgemental atmosphere.

Even from attending the rehearsals on the previous Sunday, I knew that the level of playing would be incredibly high.

Hattie Herridge, last year’s winner of the Elizabeth Griffin Award, pulled off â?? yet again â?? an outstanding flute solo with a piano accompaniment.

The 16–year–old from Henley is comfortable performing at the Henley Youth Festival, having performed on her flute, cello and without an instrument for dance performances.

Another highlight of the evening was The Bandits, who performed a version of Run by Snow Patrol.

Perhaps it was the great song choice or the way each instrument fitted with the next but, for one reason or another, this performance stuck in my head for the whole night.

What made it even more special was that the group only met for the first time on March 1.

As well as everyone working hard on stage, there is a whole host of people working backstage to put the show together.

There are ushers, stage managers, sound and lighting people, runners and chaperones.

What looks like a simple, entertaining show running smoothly on stage is often a chaotic operation behind the scenes.

A lot of the jobs backstage don’t always get the credit they deserve. For example, everyone thinks that the people who roll the piano on and off stage are the most important because you need the piano to be able to play.

However, you should never underestimate the stool carrier (me) because without the stool, the piano becomes increasingly difficult to play.

All in all, the night was successful and a lot of fun for the performers and for the audience.

The Henley Youth Festival cannot happen without the support of you. HYF organises workshops and events for the youth of Henley for little or no cost to the parents.

HYF have organised HYF Friends. If you have been to HYF’s events or workshops, they are inviting you to become a Friend. For more information, visit the website www.hyf.org.uk/friends

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