BLOG – Cemre Arca, flute

The final day of our tour started with a concert at the picture postcard-like Eilean Donan Castle followed by one at Nevisport (who kindly donated 45 air beds to the orchestra for our village hall camp outs!) in Fort William.

I enjoyed playing and dancing around the shop aisles but to be honest, it wasn’t the easiest concert, especially for us in the wind section. Staring at your section friends who have decided to model some winter coats and sunglasses whilst performing, and trying not to laugh and playing a wind instrument simultaneously becomes slightly ambitious.

On our way to Glasgow, we stopped at Glencoe, another beautiful spot. During the last summer tour, the orchestra was planning to perform there after carrying theirselves and their instruments to the top of Ben Nevis. After the climb, drastically fallen energy levels of the orchestra members, combined with wind and rain, made the performance impossible so we decided to fulfil that plan this year.

We sang one of my favourite pieces in this tour, a Gaelic Waulking song. I loved this song because it was so fun to sing with, and listen to our amazing soloists Sagnick and Laetitia (and of course, the touch of Croatian musical ornamentation from our dearest Olivia in the ‘choir’). It was even more meaningful when an elderly lady singing along with the orchestra at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway told Sagnick that she learnt the song when they were young whilst working.

Our final concert of the day was at Nan McKay Community Hall, one of the favourite venues of the Nevis members. The hospitality and the enthusiasm of the audience was so uplifting as it always is.

Overall, the two weeks of organised madness has ended with countless number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I have learnt that despite being a bit difficult and smelly at times, living in a tiny space with 40 other musicians and taking care of each other can be the most amazing thing ever. Also, some of my friends (including the ones who know me for 5 years) can now pronounce my name slightly more correctly!

When we visited some breathtakingly beautiful Hebridean beaches, as a spoilt Cypriot kid who have somewhat different understanding of hot and cold, I did not accompany my friends swimming in the Atlantic ocean. I was thinking to myself if I would regret not joining them when I look back.

However, thankfully, I can tick that off on my bucket list if (I ever have one), as I happened to be in the last speed boat from St. Kilda and I had the chance to soak up in Atlantic Ocean’s water during the stormy nighttime ride!

Also at the end of two weeks, I have seen sights that were stunning beyond my imagination and had the privilege to perform with the most talented, loving and generous bunch of musicians! There has been so many people who made this special experience possible and I appreciate it to its bits. The most massive thank you goes to our managers who didn’t only put all of this together but also cooked for us the most delicious meals, tolerated us at our grumpy times, and took great care of us! Joining Nevis was the best thing that happened to me this year. Thanks Nevis!