January 29, 2019

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018

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What an experience the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - the biggest arts festival in the world - was for 140 young people from BYC! We knew they would have a fantastic few days due to our previous visit but nothing could prepare us for the reception they received from the people attending the festival. We made a brief stop on the way to perform a charity concert at Richmond Church in North Yorkshire. The concert raised much needed funds for a local cause and also provided the choir with the opportunity to sing in a spectacular church, which was excellent preparation for the festival.

We were fortunate to be able to stay, once again, at the beautiful boarding school in Musselbrough, Loretto School, the best feature of which being the stunning chapel situated in its grounds, where our young people were able to rehearse daily. It really was the most perfect venue.

The Senior Choir performed Joy twice daily every day, totalling 20 performances (excluding Sunday) in the beautiful Greyfriars Kirk, situated in the centre of Edinburgh, with the Development Choir joining them Friday until Monday for 4 of the performances, entitled Joy Supersized. Our young people performed to an extremely high standard which was acknowledged by the numerous standing ovations they received at each performance. The Choir didn’t just wow in Greyfriars but also on the Royal Mile where they performed almost every day on the outside stage. We received 600 outstanding written reviews of our performances.

This was by no means a holiday for our young people. They needed to work extremely hard every day giving out a total of 20 000 flyers to anybody and everybody to ensure they had an audience for each show. Everyone did an amazing job! It was wonderful to see young people talking to members of the public about BYC with such pride and passion. The older members were paired with the members of Development Choir for this, which developed teamwork, confidence and created a bond between them that was evident when they stood together on stage. The work they did went a long way to ensuring we averaged an audience size of around 300 per performance. This is an amazing achievement considering there are over 50 thousand performances for visitors to choose from at the Fringe and the average audience size is 7 people!

We wanted our young people to experience the Fringe from a visitor’s point of view as well as a performer’s, taking them to see “Soweto Gospel Choir” and also “Showstopper – the Improvised Musical”; giving them a real insight into the variety and talent participating in the Fringe. A highlight of this was actually after the Soweto Gospel Choir show. As we waited for the choir members to leave the venue Mat initiated singing Hallelujah which they had sung as their Finale. As they descended the steps of the very grand Assembly Rooms they were greeted by the distinctive sound of BYC…and promptly joined in, highlighting the power that music has to unite people from all over the world.

I never underestimate what these trips do for the young people of BYC. Those selected learn so much on these trips. Their skills as performers reach another level but it’s how they develop as people that is always fascinating to watch and the most rewarding part of the trip. We know from past trips the experience spreads much further than Edinburgh, with young people sharing what they have learnt with other members of BYC. It’s by taking on the challenges of trips like Edinburgh BYC continues to grow and our members thrive.

The trip of course wouldn’t be possible without the unquestionable commitment of our Volunteer team. We are so lucky to have such an amazing team. The team who travelled to Edinburgh with the Choir did a fantastic job of supporting our young people but there were so many other volunteers back home who worked tirelessly to ensure the trip was a success. We really couldn’t do any of this without them!! Similarly the trip could not have taken place without the vast amounts of fundraising that took place. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed/took part in fundraising efforts.

The Music and Tech teams were simply brilliant in Edinburgh. The way they worked with our young people to ensure they performed at the highest level was something very special.

BYC is a unique organisation offering unique opportunities.I am sure you would all agree that we are very lucky to have BYC in our lives!