Reflections on Derwent Valley Concert Band’s Europe Tour 2015

By Layton Hodgetts OAM, President and Musical Director of DVCB

After many months of planning, the Band embarked on its ninth overseas concert tour on 14th June and spent the next twenty three days visiting and performing in Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmark.

The Band’s first destination was Barcelona from where they travelled to the delightful seaside resort of Malgrat de mar, situated north of Barcelona – a journey of approx one hour by road.

Two informal outdoor performances were given by the Band during the three-day stay with one day devoted to returning to Barcelona to visit the tourist attractions there.

From Spain, the Band flew to Rome and joined a coach that was to be the means of transport until the Band’s arrival in Copenhagen twelve days later.

The first stopover was at Terranuova in Tuscany, the Band’s base for the next six days. Performances included a concert in the famous Piazza della Signoria in Florence, street marches and concerts in the Piazzas at Terranuova and Loro Ciufenna. The Band also toured Arezzo, Siena and San Gimignano. The hospitality of the local bands with whom DVCB performed while in Tuscany was overwhelmingly generous – in fact the Tuscany leg of the Band’s journey remains one of the highlights of the European experience.

From Tuscany, the Band travelled via Nuremberg to Hildesheim in Germany. An evening concert was held in the grounds of the Hildesheim Music School, under a sound shell and DVCB shared the concert with the Senior Symphonic Wind Band from the Music School.

Both Bands played separately then combined for a finale. It was another memorable evening. Many friendships and lasting connections were made with this very friendly and talented group of musicians as well as with other members of staff and the wider community, all of whom were most hospitable.

The next day, the DVCB travelled to Rastede, further north in Germany, to compete in the European Band Championships. The charming town of Rastede, which has a population of approx 45,000 inhabitants, has hosted the event for the past sixty years. The DVCB last visited Rastede to compete in the championships in 2008.

Because of the strong links and friendships that resulted from the 2008 trip, the Band was again accommodated in luxury homestay accommodation – the DVCB certainly received VIP treatment during their four-day stay there.

The Rastede visit was particularly significant because the DVCB received a Gold medal award for the on-stage Concert Section of the competition, Mr Chris Rice received the Gold Medal for best Drum Major and Mr Lyall McDermott received the trophy for best Conductor. But the crowning glory was being awarded the Open European Championship for the March-Standspiel Section of the Competition. The results were significant as the field of eighteen bands came from ten nations around the world. The DVCB also received the honour of an invitation to perform in the grounds of the Oldenburg Castle in Rastede for the official Reception, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Oldenburg, for all bands and officials attending the Championships.

The Band’s next and final destination was Copenhagen in Denmark. The DVCB last visited in 2004 to participate, by invitation, in the celebrations surrounding the Royal Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary (formerly Mary Donaldson of Hobart, Tasmania).

On this occasion, the DVCB was visiting Copenhagen to compete in the WAMSB (World Association of Marching Showbands) World Championships and also to participate in the inaugural Copenhagen Performing Arts Festival. The Band’s performance schedule included a concert performance at a Kulture House in suburban Copenhagen, the on-stage Concert Section competition of the World Championships (gaining fourth place in their category) and the Street March, held in downtown Copenhagen, in which the Band was placed twenty-first out of forty-nine competing bands.

Once again, the Band has served as a significant Music Ambassador for Tasmania and Australia on this tour, just as it has done on the previous eight trips to various continents and countries around the globe. The age range of those who travelled on this trip was from sixteen to seventy two years. The value of such trips as these, both in personal and professional development is immeasurable.

The other fact that needs to be emphasized is, that the Band is entirely self-funded.

The Band hopes that Governments, Local, State and Federal along with those who are responsible for prioritising Arts funding will eventually recognise in a tangible way, the value of community institutions such as the Derwent Valley Concert Band.

There is a rumour that plans and negotiations are already underway for what may be the next global Music Mission by the DVCB.

Meanwhile, the Band is back in harness preparing to defend its title of Open B Grade Concert Band Champion at the Tasmanian Bands League State Championships in Hobart in September.

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