2008 Tour - Jersey

25th Anniversary Tour, May 2008

We arrived after an uneventful though slightly delayed flight at the ‘Hotel de Normandie’. This was a faded, rambling hotel close to the beach at Havre des Pas on the outskirts of St.Helier.

Concert at Durrell Zoo

The staff were very friendly and helpful, and came from countries as diverse as Portugal, Somalia and Kenya. They gradually became used to the Band and soon gave up on any idea of keeping us line, e.g. allocating us set places for mealtimes! There was a Fawlty Towers feel about the place, enhanced by the unexpected drenching received by some at dinner due to the heavy rain running in through the leaky flat roof. We delighted in the printed sign at the entrance which invited people to ‘come for a meal and relax in our brassière after a workout in the gym’. The food was copious and tasty, the rooms pleasant, the water hot and the situation convenient.

Our first concert was held in the open-air courtyard at the Durrell centre. After a cloudy start to the day, the sun caught us out and we found ourselves playing in extremely sunny, hot conditions. It was our first attempt to play together with no rehearsal and distracting conditions. Not only were family groups strolling around, but there were weird animal cries and the red-necked laughing thrush obviously found us highly amusing and lived up to his name. However there was a happy, lively atmosphere and fortunately we had an indulgent audience who appeared to enjoy the music.

Our next venue was the splendid band-stand in the delightful Howard Davies Park. Again the weather was sunny and there was a good sized audience, many staying throughout the whole concert. The acoustics were such that the official seating was rather too near the band and our widely scattered audience could hear very comfortably at a distance. It was found that some of the audience had heard us the day before and had come back for a second dose!

Howard Davies Park

We rehearsed and performed with the Jersey Island Singers at the splendid Opera House with its stunning chandelier. The acoustics here were very different and suited poor Allan who had been struggling with laryngitis all week. On this occasion we met Mary, who had been evacuated to Stockport during the war, and hoped to remake contact with the families she knew then as a result of our visit. We hope the local papers took up her story. Allan dedicated the Little English Suite to her.

The last concert as the full concert band was shared with Jersey Premier Brass at the St. James Arts Centre. The evening began with the brass band who played a technically demanding and attractive repertoire that had been prepared to competition standard. We wondered how we would follow this performance, but should have had more faith in our mentor...Allan cunningly chose a repertoire that showed off the variety in sound and tone that only a wind band can offer. The concert finished with a rumbustious rendition of Hootenanny by the combined bands!

The Swing Band gave us a rousing finish in the hotel dining room on the last night, followed by a highly amusing karaoke into the small hours. Musically, it was a successful tour, and the band for the most part found Jersey a diverting and welcoming destination - though very different from some of our previous trips around southern Europe.

Opera House, WCB with the Jersey Singers