As 2015 marked Rayburn Tours’ 50th year, we’ve been celebrating this milestone by rewarding some of our valued customers. As a way of saying ‘thank you’, we presented three lucky groups with a Golden Ticket entitling them to £50 discount per paying passenger.
Last year, Huddersfield Grammar were announced as the first Golden Ticket winner, followed by Sandwell Academy. The final ticket was awarded to Malcolm Arnold Academy Choir, entitling each passenger to a £50 discount on their upcoming choir tour to Belgium. As a result, the choir now have the extra funds to enjoy additional excursions whilst out on tour, enabling them to experience more of Belgium’s culture and history and thereby enriching their time on tour as a whole.
David, Eleanora and Ellen from the Rayburn Concert team visited the school to meet with the staff and students and discuss exciting plans for the upcoming tour.
On arrival, we were warmly welcomed to the school by Simon Toyne, Executive Director of Music at the David Ross Education Trust, who led us into the hall where students and parents were gathered for the choir tour information evening. Our impression of Malcolm Arnold Academy as a lovely school was reinforced on meeting with the staff and pupils.
After an introduction from Simon, David from the Rayburn Concert team stepped up to give a presentation to the students, outlining the venues they will be performing in and the excursions they will be going on, as well as providing all the necessary information to put minds at ease and raise excitement levels!
Following the presentation, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to some of the students about their tour expectations which served as a strong reminder of why we love what we do. Aside from a great deal of enthusiasm surrounding the Chocolate Museum and the famous ‘twice-fried’ Belgian chips (both essential items on a Belgium tour ‘to-do’ list!), it was very clear that each student felt this tour was going to be hugely rewarding and valuable to the development of the choir. When asked why going on tour would benefit the choir, it was lovely to hear such positive and enthusiastic responses from the students:
‘It will help us bond, we’ll all be singing together and doing different things together…so far, we’ve done a few performances and rehearsals but nothing like this’.
‘The venues that we’ll be performing in aren’t venues that we would usually get to perform in. It’s going to be really interesting.’
‘I’m excited about the little moments that no one’s planned that will happen and we’ll all have great memories because of them.’
‘I think it will make us a better choir as a whole…I think it’ll bring us up to another level.’
The spotlight then turned to Simon Toyne so we could find out a little more about what he hoped to achieve from the tour and how winning the Golden Ticket has helped to facilitate this.
‘Winning the Golden Ticket has made a huge difference; firstly, in terms of the quality of what can go on outside the venues and the musical side of things – the difference being that we can go to museums and go on canal trips and do the things that the group are interested in. Secondly, it is very important because it brings the cost down. We are a comprehensive school and there shouldn’t be any barrier for children who are passionate about music to be able to participate in the kind of activities that I think is their right’.
In the hope that this tour will give the choir time to get to know each other and ‘develop a sixth sense in performance’, Simon commented on the benefits of touring: ‘You can have all the musical ingredients right for a great choir in terms of the technical side of things but unless they get on with each other, the core activity of music is not there. That sense of them living with each other for a few days, accommodating each other, cherishing each other and changing as well is actually a kind of musical process.
‘It’s also the experience of singing in different venues and to different audiences […] and from a simple element of there being a difference in the acoustics. When a school choir goes somewhere and they hear the sound back, that is a magical moment. Also, there’s that sense of people other than their parents enjoying their singing – that moment when the penny drops and they realise they’re actually good and making decent music. Those moments for young people when they realise the music they’re making is music with a capital ‘M’ and people are being moved by it are really important.
It was lovely to hear Simon speak with such passion on the subject of touring and I think we all came away feeling greatly inspired by his enthusiasm for music-making and his strong desire to facilitate memorable and positive experiences for the members of the choir.
We are delighted to be working with Malcolm Arnold Academy and wish them a happy and successful tour (we hope the chips and chocolate do not disappoint!).