• July 28, 2017
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Tour of the Netherlands

On Monday 29th May 26 singers, 4 [non-singing] spouses, 2 guest soloists, the music director and accompanist and a piano set off from Cumbria on the “great world tour of the Netherlands” – Solway Singers’ first overseas tour. A problem with the coach before we had even set off and a malfunction of the ferry car deck on the return journey were minor issues, more than offset by an excellent hotel and concert arrangements that worked well.

After a very calm sea crossing, members spent a day in Amsterdam following their own interests, which proved to be as diverse as the near-obligatory canal cruise with the rest of the day in the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum; a stroll through the hidden gardens of the hofjes of the Jordaan district; and a dash to a café for breakfast followed by extensive research in a number of similar establishments [a new meaning of “all-day breakfast,” perhaps?]. Happily no-one got very lost and no-one was left behind as we set off for our hotel on the outskirts of Arnhem.

On Wednesday, after an early morning rehearsal, we set off for ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where some of the choir took a guided tour and others simply indulged in a “Bosch balle”, a tennis- ball-sized profiterole. Then it was on to the serious business of the tour. Our first concert [in the Jorigskerk, Venlo] was enthusiastically received: a standing ovation was followed by demands for an encore and a further standing ovation! We ended a very rewarding day sharing a drink with the members of Vivente, the local choir who had arranged the concert and with whom we shared the programme.

On Thursday 1st June some of the choir visited the charming Open Air Museum of Dutch Life while others took advantage of the facilities at the hotel; some alledgedly seen, though not unfortunately photographed, in the outdoor swimming pool. Our concert that evening was in the Martinikerk, Doesburg. We were welcomed by the city councillor responsible for Culture and the Arts, the music director gave an interview for the local TV station and the whole concert was filmed. Despite a very late evening on the previous day, the choir again raised its game and a successful concert was enjoyed by another appreciative audience.

Friday necessitated an early start as we were returning home via a lunchtime concert in the spectacular Domkerk [St. Martin’s Cathedral] in Utrecht. In an interesting parallel with Carlisle, it is a church without a nave; though in the case of the Domkerk the damage was done by a gale. This was not advertised as a “regular” concert and the cathedral remained open to visitors, who were free to dip into and out of the programme, so that the audience was smaller than at our previous concerts. For the choir, nonetheless, it gave a focus to our final day and ensured that the tour ended on a high.

Saturday saw a tired but contented party [still plus piano] returning to Cumbria after a demanding but rewarding trip; a highly successful first experience of touring for the choir and an enjoyable visit to the Netherlands into the bargain.

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