Festival viewpoint – Sam, aged 19

The time had come to watch the concert. I sat down on the stairs of the font, not sure what to expect …

Samantha Wilderspin volunteered at the festival this year for work experience, helping with the box office and front of house. As she writes below, she was very wary of classical music when she started ….

I never listened to classical music apart from hearing it at my grandparents’ house occasionally. I’d never thought of it as something I’d enjoy; I’d put it in a box, labelling it as something for older people which I wouldn’t like. Playing a brass instrument got me strange looks as a child. People would laugh, because I was the only child that had lessons for the cornet rather than learning guitar or the drums or something that was classed as “cool”.

In August, when I finished my A-levels, I knew that I wanted to go into the arts, due to my love of drama and music. I was then approached by Victoria, who conducts the brass band I am in, and she told me about her job, and how they needed volunteers and help at the box office.

At the time, I had never heard of Roman River, so I decided to look them up. Classical Music. I won’t lie and say that it didn’t worry me. I knew that I would have to listen to some of the concerts, and I was narrow-minded and expected it to be all the same music; all the music I have heard and disliked.

My first day working at the Roman River Box Office, I expected five or six people working and just printing off tickets. That’s when I met Zélie and Lindsay, and I knew that I was very wrong. The organisation itself is very small, but that makes all the work they do so much more impressive, and it is so intriguing to see how it is all done. Everybody is kind and grateful for your help. Especially when the internet goes off for two hours.

The first day of the Festival arrived and I was volunteering as a programme seller. I was very nervous, as for a month I had been behind the scenes watching the tickets sell out for the concerts, and now I was going to see them myself.

Then the time had come to sit down and watch the concert. I sat down on the stairs of the font, not sure what to expect. I was completely blown away by what I heard, and never realised how varied classical music can be. I fell in love with Shostakovich and have loved each piece of his I have heard over the concerts. You get so much more feeling from the music being performed rather than a recording. There’s something about the passion you get from the musicians and watching them get caught up in the music themselves.

Through the weeks of the festival, I have witnessed Solo Bach, a chamber choir, and an evening of wind music. I almost cried after hearing the french horns, as they reminded me of my brass banding roots. It was definitely one of my favourite concerts.

Roman River Music is a fantastic organisation that brings such versatility and has changed my mind on classical music I’m not completely converted but it has definitely opened my eyes and I would encourage people who feel like they dislike classical music to give it a chance, as a live performance is so different, especially with such passionate musicians, It’s not only the sound but the feeling.

I would like to thank Roman River for showing me the variety of classical music and how there is so much to choose from. Also how much I have been taught by working at a fantastic organisation. Thank you for opening my eyes to the classical music world – I wish it had happened a long while ago.

– Samantha Wilderspin, 19

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