In the spirit of “better late than never”, here’s some edited highlights from our trip to the Netherlands with Boudewijn Zwart.
Lowlight must have been the weather. We played a lot of outdoor gigs wearing lots of layers and running for cover to keep the instruments dry. As the contra player for the tour, trust me, it’s no fun! The weather didn’t seem to deter the crowds though, and people seemed happy to watch us from under their umbrellas! (Tough people, the Dutch)
There were many highlights though. Musically, playing in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam was just amazing.
There was about a 6 second delay, so the opening chords for the Magic Flute overture seemed to go on for ever. What an amazing sound though. We also met some delightful people (tourists and locals alike) who were most appreciative of the concert.
Our base for the week was Dordrecht, and the “home” gig certainly did not disappoint. The concert was in the tower of the Great Church, home of the largest carillon in Europe. Our host, Boudewijn, allowed us to ring the bells to announce the start of the concert. Pretty much a first for all of us and surprisingly hard work! The ultimate test was for 8 of the choir members when they were asked to play in the Carillon tower to do a duet with Boudewijn. What no-one realised is exactly how high that would be….A couple of hundred steps later and everyone squashed in nicely.
Those of us that weren’t playing actually went across the road to listen. The sound was beautiful – the bells and the saxes just sang out over the town.
A strange double act was when we were joined by a local Pipe and Drum Corps in Barneveld. Naturally, we asked them to join in on “Shetland Sequence”. Tuning up was fun in a masochistic kind of way.
Finally, our last day in the Netherlands was crowned by two concerts in Schoonhoven.
The stage was set up on a bridge over the canal, with the audience seated on the banks.
The afternoon was a children’s concert which included the debut of the “Squeaky Boyz”. This quartet (Nigel, Chris, Dom and Tom) bravely performed Philip Buttall’s “Lone Arranger” on two soprillos and two sopraninos. The local dogs loved it anyway.
In a bizarre twist of fate, the girls get all the bottom end in the NSC with Claire, Michelle, Alison and Deb performing Nigel Wood’s “March of the Baritonettes”. In the second strange collaboration of the tour, our co-performers “Raw Noodles” played their didgeridoos along with Waltzing Soprillda! it will never sound the same again!
The evening concert was simply amazing. The organisers estimated about 1200 in the audience (their best turnout to date). The canal looked gorgeous in the light and we had huge fun playing a mixed programme including two duets with Boudewijn on carillon.
The aftershow at the Silver Museum was delightful and we were thrilled to receive miniature silver tuning forks as a memento of our trip.
Gracious hosts, great music and good company. Who could ask for anything more?