It was lovely to be back in Wales again and I received a warm welcome at the house of my two good friends Tony and Carol.
However in connection with the concerts we met a few hitches along the way.
Our first gig was a lunchtime concert in the foyer at the Welsh Millennium Centre on Thursday 3rd of November. The plan was that the programs for the concerts and my concerts dresses were going to be flown over from Norway by my parents on the Thursday. Wednesday night I got a phone call from my parents in Norway. “There is a pending strike in Norwegian airlines, we might not be able to come over, be prepared.” Ahh, I was determined not to panic, I had to focus on our first gig, and fate would decide. I was not really sure how it would be to have a concert in the foyer, but thought of it as a very good experience and it was indeed! Loads of people turned up and sat down on the benches around. The cafés filled up with people who decided to sit down and listen to us too. I was overwhelmed and touched by this, a lovely surprise. Half way through we also received some good news, my mum and dad were on their way!
Our next concert at Insole Court turned out to be a little bit more dramatic than I had expected. The venue was booked and we were all set to rehearse at the venue at 11o’clock the same day. Tony, John and I turned up at the venue ready to start the preparations for the evening event, but to our horror and annoyance we were told by the manager that the venue was closed on Health and safety grounds. Why? We were speechless. Something was going on. John came over to Tony and myself and explained that Cardiff Council had received a message the night before about the closure of the venue. “But, we have a concert here tonight! The tickets are all sold out! What do you expect us to do?” we asked the people from the council.
“Find another venue or cancel it,” they said.
I was shocked. This had to be a joke! No, they were serious, this was no joke. So 8 hours before our concert we were without a concert venue and in danger of having to cancel! I tried to stay calm. Tony, another committee member, John, and myself were determined not to be beaten!
After a prolonged argument we realised that we were making no progress, even when the Deputy Chief Executive and the Health and Safety Inspector were summoned. Thanks to the Cathedral authorities we found a new venue, and were lucky to get somewhere nearby. The Council were persuaded to pay for the transport and tuning of the piano for the new location. The lack of information to the organisers of the concert by Cardiff Council left a lot to be desired and any future dealings with the Council should be undertaken with care. I must admit that the huge bouquets of flowers from the council as an apology for the inconvenience didn’t help matters much.
At 5.30 the piano was tuned, John and his little helpers built a stage, set up a red velvet back drop, lights were rigged and sim sala bim an atmosphere of stage dramatics was created. The concert was a success and people really seemed to enjoy themselves with the good old Gershwin and Weil repertoire and a glass of wine.
Our last concert at Llandaff Catherdral went without any complications and a lovely crowd of 130 people turned up, amongst them were family and some of my dearest friends. It is a fantastic venue and the acoustics where amazing and Taina finally got the chance to play the grand piano!
It certainly turned out to be a weekend I’ll remember, not just because of all the challenges we had to deal with but because of what a fantastic team we made!
Now I am looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead of me. Denmark, Norway, Cardiff in the New Year and then the Netherlands.