Belgium Tour 2011

Tuesday 03 May 11

On the evening of Monday 25th April, Sheffield University Wind Orchestra met for a final rehearsal before we embarked on what was to be a fantastic and hugely successful tour to Belgium.

We departed Sheffield at midnight for the 11 hour coach journey to Leuven (near Brussels), which would be our home for the next week.

After a day in Brussels, we had our first concert on Thursday 28th at St Peter’s church, situated in Leuven’s Market square. The performance lasted for an hour and a half, to which the audience gave a standing ovation at its conclusion and left a combined donation of over 300 Euros. We were astounded by the gratitude and generosity shown by the locals and it left us with plenty of confidence for the rest of our concerts.

On Friday 29th we headed to Antwerp where our first stop was the Ergotherapeute Senior Citizen’s Home. We gave a brief concert for the staff and residents. The performance was greatly received, prompting an emotional response for some, a standing ovation by others, but certainly a humbling experience for the band.

Our second performance was at St Norbert’s Church, near the centre of Antwerp. During this concert, four members of the orchestra - Gareth Widdowson (conductor/percussion), Matthew Palmer (percussion), Matthew Ingram (Euphonium) and Simon Stewart (Tuba) gave a special vocal rendition of the National Anthem to mark the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

SUWO headed out from Leuven to Neerpelt on Saturday 30th to participate in the EMJ (link: ). We performed a short programme of Masque (Hesketh), Elegia (Lenaerts) and the final movement from Bacchus on Blue Ridge (Horovitz) to a judging panel on international authorities in the wind & brass world. Wouter Lenaerts was also in the audience watching the performance of his work, Elegia.

We then joined all the participants of the festival in a parade through the streets of the town, flying the flag for Great Britain in front of hundreds of spectators, to the festival’s main venue where the proclamation and results of our adjudication were to be held. The electric atmosphere of the parade & ceremony was only beaten but the result of first prize, cum laude (first prize with special mention) awarded for our performance.

The last day, Sunday 30th, in Leuven featured an informal open-air concert in the Ladeuzeplazin (town square), which gave a fitting conclusion to our time in Belgium. We left in the early hours on Monday 1st and boarded the ferry to Dover, before stopping off in London for our annual May Bank Holiday performance in St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.

We arrived back at Sheffield on Monday evening, exhausted from a week of travelling and performing but filled with memories, awesome experiences and new friendships.

© Widdowson & Hemingway 2016