Carnoustie High School Band has returned home following a memorable trip to China. They were the first ever youth band to be invited to perform in the country following an official request made by the Chinese Ambassador to Scotland.
The first week was spent in the city of Tianjin where they performed to capacity audiences on four occasions. The young musicians also attended Mandarin lessons each morning, took part in Chinese fan painting and learned to play the zither.
On completion of the Mandarin course each student and teacher received a certificate.
One of the many highlights saw the band perform at the British Embassy in Beijing in front of 2,500 guests, before meeting the British Ambassador, Dame Barbara Woodward OBE, who was presented with a quaich.
Piper, Owen Sweeney, who joined the band on the trip, was invited to perform for the Embassy Security Services and was presented with a medal and received an invitation to become the official piper for the British Embassy in Beijing.
Meanwhile, Scottish country dancers, Meggie Martin-Lyall and Cara McFarlane were also enthusiastically received. The girls wowed audiences with their own modern dance routine set to traditional music.
At the Embassy the band was filmed in performance, later appearing on Chinese National television and leading officials to extend a further invitation to return again in 2019.
The players certainly enjoyed the cultural aspect of the tour with a visit to the theatre to see 'The Legend of Kung Fu' as well stepping out on Tiananmen Square and entering the Forbidden City where they walked for eleven miles!
There was also a tricycle tour of the exclusive Hutong district of Beijing, before they gave a memorable performance to a capacity audience at the Beijing Conservatoire of Music — receiving an extended standing ovation.
No visit to China would be complete without a visit to The Great Wall, which they did before another extraordinary final concert at a high school and primary school attached to Beijing University.
The band shared the concert platform with a group of amazing eight year old Mongolian dancers and an incredible primary school orchestra.
Before they flew home the group visited the Emperor's Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, before just having time to take in some shopping at the famous Pearl Market and a trip to the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium.
The Chinese people were warm and welcoming and many friendships have been formed. The pupils were a credit to Carnoustie High School, Scotland and especially to their parentsMD, Michael Robertson
Trip of a lifetime
Musical Director Mike Robertson told 4BR: "A special thank you must go to Fiona MacPherson, Faculty Head of Expressive Arts at Carnoustie High School, Paul Judge, Angie Hill, Jocelyn Robertson and to Mr Ding who organised and co-ordinated all the events in both Tianjin and Beijing.
He did a superb job and was extremely popular with both pupils and staff."
He added: "This was the trip of a lifetime for the young musicians. The Chinese people were warm and welcoming and many friendships have been formed. The pupils were a credit to Carnoustie High School, Scotland and especially to their parents.
I'm so proud to have been able to take this group to China and I would like to thank again everyone who helped make this possible."