2000 Tour - CataluñiaIn May 2000 the band undertook its third overseas tour to Cataluñia in northeast Spain. The much anticipated tour began promptly with an early check-in at Manchester Airport. Our Musical Director, Allan Jones, is not inclined to waste time and so five o’clock in the morning saw the band set up and playing some rousing numbers in the departure lounge. This was part of the BBC’s ‘Music Live’ series but, unfortunately, the recording crew were having a lie-in that day so that our audience consisted of some sleepy but appreciative fellow passengers and airport workers.
We boarded the plane at 7:00 am for the flight to Girona, from where we went by coach to our hotel - the Hotel Victoria, at Santa Margarida, right on the beach of the golden sand of the Bay of Roses.
The Bay of Roses is on the Mediterranean coast, in the L'Alt Empordà region of Costa Brava in Cataluñia, under the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Cataluñia, which has an area of 12,328 sq miles, and a population (in 1991) of 6,059,454. is an autonomous region in northeast Spain, comprising the provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lérida, and Tarragona. The shape of an inverted triangle, Cataluñia is bounded on the north by the Pyrenees, on the west by the region of Aragón, and on the east by the Mediterranean Sea. Further information can be found on the Costa Brava website
After a hurried lunch at our hotel ,we travelled to the delightful ancient village of Castello D’Empuries. We joined with four choirs to give a concert in the beautiful Cathedral in this village. There was a large audience of some 500 people who were generous with their applause, so much so that it accompanied every last member of the band down the full length of the aisle.
This concert premiered "El Espiritu de Cataluñia", a composition especially commissioned from Ray Woodfield by the band. This piece encapsulates the vivacity and joie-de-vivre of the region and was received with enthusiasm in our different venues.
After this 20-hour long day even our Musical .Director was happy to relax until the evening of the next day when the band set up in the Placa de la Cataluñia in Roses. This outdoor concert was televised and transmitted the same evening. There was a very happy atmosphere and the band, audience and band followers (The Klingons!) all enjoyed themselves.
On the third day of the tour we travelled to the beautiful and historic town of Girona. We gave a joint concert with an excellent ladies choir "Coral de Veus Blanques Preludi" in an adapted convent, the Auditori Merce. We had time in-between the rehearsal and concert to explore the ancient town as well as its bars and cafes!
Our next venue was in the theatre in Beziers, France, our twin town. True to form our French hosts plied us with a delicious meal and copious supplies of Cotes du Rhone. We are hopeful that our enthusiasm made up for any resultant inaccuracies in the subsequent performance!
After this busy schedule we were given the next day to relax. We were then put on our mettle by sharing a concert with the impressive Municipal Band of Barcelona held in the astonishingly enormous fort of Sant Ferran at Figueres.
We played after the interval to a good-sized audience which included the soldiers of the Municipal Band.
They were particularly appreciative of our renderings of some traditional Spanish numbers which made a very friendly atmosphere lasting late into the evening when we joined them for wine and tapas.
On our last day we had speeches and presentations to all those who had helped us through the week before an informal farewell concert in the grounds of our hotel.
The band and followers had a very varied and interesting week. They are deeply grateful to the committee who worked very hard on their behalf, to their Musical Director, Allan Jones, who is the inspiration behind the band and, in particular, to the tour organiser, John Glynn, without whose drive and enthusiasm the visit would not have taken place.