Photo gallery: First rehearsal for Norfolk and Norwich Festival saxophonists

From grandfathers with their grandsons to those who took up the saxophone late in life, almost 200 people arrived armed with their instruments for the first rehearsal of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival's Saxophone Massive last night.

Acclaimed British saxophonist Andy Sheppard is set to lead around 200 people from across the region in the festival launch of his piece Sounds of the City on Millennium Plain on May 6.

Musicians of all abilities caught a glimpse of the music for the first time at Open venue on Bank Plain at one of six rehearsals to prepare for the festival event.

Nick Johns, 65, and John Wood, 69, have signed up with their grandsons.

Mr Wood, from Wymondham, said he had signed up for the event because it sounded like a good idea to have a very large group of instruments playing together.

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'I've never played the saxophone in a group of more than 10 people', he said.

His grandson eight-year-old Hector Wood, of Mill Hill Road in Norwich, took up the saxophone a few months ago.

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He said: 'I am looking forward to the final performance because I've never heard so many saxophones at the same time. My grandfather can show me how it's done.'

Nine-year-old Joe Johns, from Le Strange Close in Norwich said: 'I am happy that lots and lots of people from around the region can come together and have a kick about with a song with a famous saxophonist.'

Janet Ellis, 68 from Hindolveston, near Dereham was given a saxophone by her children for her 60th birthday.

'It has been amazing', she said. 'I love everything. I like practising, I like the people I've met.

'I thought that I would have a go. I've not idea what it is going to be like. I thought I would just come along to see.'

Mr Sheppard has led the Saxophone Massive at festivals and events in cities around the world.

He said: 'It's a big community project. It is perfect for opening a festival. This is about using the local talent and those who want to get involved. It is a big buzz for me to do something with beginners and amateurs. They will become one big family by the end of the rehearsal period.'

Orphy Robinson, who is conducting the piece, said: 'Whatever your ability you can take part. I like the community aspect of the project. I know it will take quite a few rehearsals to get it to what it should be. The first couple will just be note bashing but then the piece will come through. To hear the progression from the rehearsals to the day of the performance is great.'

• The Norfolk and Norwich Festival takes place between May 6 and 21. The festival will be launched with the Saxophone Massive on May 6 at 5.30pm on Millennium Plain.

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