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National Youth Orchestra of Wales on tour to Germany

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

DSC05751 resizedRebecca Abbott, from OneStage had the opportunity to see her arrangements in action as she accompanied one of the UK’s most talented youth orchestras on their tour to Germany. Becky is one of our German speakers and a wonderful singer! There were 115 students from the National Youth Orchestra of Wales on tour in three coaches, performing in various venues in Berlin and Leipzig. Read on for a day by day synopsis of their tour.

National Youth Orchestra of Wales Tour

By Rebecca Abbott, Tour Operator & Tour Manager for OneStage

5th – 12th August 2013

Monday 5th August
A total of three coaches headed to Dover port for the ferry crossing to Calais for the National Youth Orchestra of Wales (NYOW) tour to Berlin & Leipzig, Germany.
I met the coaches in Dover, where the atmosphere on board was lively and excitable with plenty of singing. The coach made good time and we managed to get an earlier ferry, which meant that we reached the hostel ahead of schedule. On reaching the hostel, the keys were ready for distribution. After dinner, it was time for bed, a good sleep required ahead of the next day’s travel.

Tuesday 6th August
After a full day of travelling we were all very tired but in good spirits as we reached our AO hostel Hauptbahnhof in Berlin. We arrived in time for a buffet for three coach loads of tired, hungry musicians. The hostel allocated armbands to the over 18’s which meant that they could independently visit the bar. Everybody thought that this was a good system.

DSC05774 resizedWednesday 7th August
In the morning, our explorations of Berlin began with a visit to the iconic Brandenburg gate with independent sightseeing of this fantastic city. This was a great start to what would be a successful day all round. Next stop was a rehearsal at this evening’s concert venue, Brandenburg Cathedral. What an amazing venue! The cathedral was packed full with an enthusiastic appreciative audience. NYOW performed a sensational concert, so much so that there was standing ovation at the end accompanied by constant applause. A great start to the tour. A post-concert meal was served in a local restaurant and everybody was buzzing from the atmosphere lovely comments that they received.

Thursday 8th August
The performers enjoyed a relaxing morning, with most students determined to take the opportunity to explore the main sights and museums of Berlin. Today’s concert was to take place at the Konzerthaus in Berlin which was part of the Young Euros Classic’s Festival, to which the orchestra had received a special invitation to come and play. Another outstanding concert in Berlin!

Friday 9th August
Goodbye Berlin….and Hello Leipzig! The journey took its allotted 2.5 hours, with a meal at the hotel ready on arrival. Today’s concert was to take place in a marquee at the remarkable Altenburg Castle, as part of the Opening Night of their summer concert series. Sadly, the weather was not on our side, but fortunately, the orchestra and the audience were protected from the rain. The musicians enjoyed a barbecue after their rehearsal, just as the sun made a welcome appearance. The concert was well attended and the orchestra were invited to stay for drinks to celebrate the tour and enjoy some social time.

Saturday 10th August
After breakfast, there was free time to see the highlights of Leipzig; the Thomaskirche, the Bach Monument, Mendelssohn’s House, the Bach Museum, the Grassi Museum and the atmospheric cellar style restaurants….and of course, fantastic shopping streets!
Then the orchestra set off to play in the MDR festival (Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk, a German radio station) in Wermsdorf. Sadly, the weather was not on our side, and the talented, young players kept the audience entertained whilst the rain poured down outside. A wet, soggy evening was wrapped up with some drinks in the bar on the final night in Germany.

Sunday 11th August
An early morning start saw us back on the road, with Antwerp set as our final tour stop. After a week’s worth of practising checking in to various hostels and hotels, it was becoming second nature to the orchestra. After dinner, the orchestra had time to explore the pretty, historic centre of Antwerp.

Monday 12th August
We had a prompt departure from Antwerp and arrived in Calais in time to catch an earlier ferry. This was appreciated all round as the orchestra were now all ready to go home after a very exciting and fun tour. Once in Dover, I said my goodbyes to everyone whilst the orchestra continued to Cardiff where their journey and the tour ended.

Eve’s tour managing experiences in the South of France

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

IMG_0500 resizedOne of the best parts of being a music tour operator is to see the arrangements that you have set up in place live on tour. We encourage all of our team to join at least a couple of groups on tour each year, the experience is invaluable for our creativity and exploring the intricate details involved in planning every single tour. It is also fulfilling and exciting watching our groups enjoying attractions and concerts that have been planned for them.
This year, Eve (one of our French & Italian speakers, clarinettist & baritone horn player) joined The American School in London on a tour to Leuven, Wood Green Junior School on their tour to Normandy and Kirklees Youth Orchestra in Provence. You can find out a little bit about her tour managing experiences in the South of France:

“There were so many to choose from that everyone each had their own favourite moment of the Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra tour to Provence this summer. For some, it was finding themselves at a rehearsal in an abbey atop a mountain, wondering why anyone would schedule a concert in such a remote place, only to walk out on stage before a huge audience. Others enjoyed exploring new cities, kayaking through the countryside or sampling local treats. My personal highlight was seeing the audience in a packed Saint Maximin Town Square so appreciative that they applauded for encore after encore and still wanted to hear more!”

Warwickshire County Music Service tour to Belgium

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

20130801_warwickshireWarwickshire County Music Service took some of their musicians on tour to Belgium this summer, to perform in some of our favourite places in Wallonia:

Diane Slater reports:

“I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful tour to Belgium enjoyed by CMS pupils and staff. Everything was perfect including the weather!”

Click here to view the article in The Bulletin: http://www.xpats.com/young-english-classical-musicians-take-belgium-storm

And of course, special thanks to the Wonderful Belgium Tourist Office, Brussels & Wallonia for their assistance with advertising our concerts on their facebook site:

https://www.facebook.com/BelgiumThePlacetoBe

Tour to Normandy with Wood Green School Junior Choir

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

IMG_0444 (2)Our colleage Eve just returned from a tour to Normandy with Wood Green School Junior Choir from Oxford, and told us all about her experiences:

“Sleepy as they may have been after a very early start, the choir were lively and excited by the time we reached Dover for a very smooth crossing. Cries of “we’re in France!” were to be heard at the sight of a man wearing a beret when the we got of the coach for a stop en route to the accommodation. For some, it was their first time overseas. We slept well that night in our French countryside manor.

The next morning, after learning that the French don’t use a plate for their bread and they drink tea from a bowl, we headed into Caen town centre for a joint rehearsal with the local choir. The rain had been pouring down during rehearsal but with a stroke of luck it brightened up just in time for us to explore Caen and find some lunch. We then paid a quick visit to the castle, built by William the Conqueror, to enjoy the views.

In the afternoon we went to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor retirement home for our first concert.  The choir were pleased to see a picture of their own faces singing out on a poster advertising the event. The concert was part of a birthday party for all of the residents born that month, so the choir ended their set with “joyeux anniversaire”. The residents reciprocated by delighting us with a rendition of a traditional Normandy song.

Afterwards, we headed off to the pool to let off some steam by splashing about, plunging down the slide and playing ball. Then we headed up to the seaside town of Courseuilles-sur-Mer for some dinner. Our restaurant had a fantastic view of the sea and we watched the sun go down while eating crêpes for dessert.

Sunny Sunday started with a rehearsal session in the morning, followed by a fun filled trip to Festyland. The singers braved the roller coasters and rides whilst trying not to scream in order to save their voices for that night’s concert!

They sang to an appreciative audience at their joint concert with the local choir. The highlight of the evening being  “you raise me up” with eighty voices, rounded up with a meal in a restaurant just round the corner, tasting some traditional French recipes.

Monday morning came and it was time to leave the accommodation. But beforehand the choir gave a bonus performance of one of their favourite pieces to the hostel staff. Next we hit the road in the direction of Calais for the final performance of the tour.

Singing in a shopping centre was very different to the other venues and it brought new challenges. The choir sang well and aroused the curiosity of  many passers-by who stopped to listen.

The final treat of the tour was a game of bowling followed by free time to go shopping. We had an awards ceremony on the coach while waiting for the ferry before crossing the channel worn out but happy after a musical long weekend.”

OneStage eagerly awaits 2013 MMA conference

Friday, May 17th, 2013

image2OneStage is set up ready and eagerly awaits the start of the 2013 MMA conference in Canterbury this weekend.

We look forward to meeting existing and future clients, launching our new website and inviting everyone to find out how our concert arrangements are the key to a successful tour.

If you can’t be here this weekend and would like Julian or Sonia to come and visit you, to discuss touring arrangements, then please contact us via the enquiry form on our website.

Radley College Concert Tour – Florence

Monday, April 29th, 2013

15th to 19th March 2013

FirenzeThe Tuscan sun was shining over Florence this February, just in time to receive the 43 boys (aged 11 – 19) and teachers from Radley College School music department.

 Staying in modern hotel, positioned behind the train station of Santa Maria Novella, we resided only a ten minute walk from the centre of Florence.

Our coach & instrument van, (hired for certain parts of the tour) easily picked us from outside the hotel, something which can often be a headache in historic cities.

On our trip to the world famous Uffizi it was astounding to see our concert leaflets everywhere and this was followed by several great concerts: the beautiful church of Santo Stefano Al Ponte; St. Mark’s English Church; a joint concert with the Music Academy of Florence (supported by the regional council) and (on a glorious Sunday morning), mass for the choir at the magnificent Duomo in Siena.

All of the concerts were well attended, with up to two hundred people coming to watch a group of talented, young performers in their element. It was a pleasure to be with, and to work with this group.

As a tour manager in Italy, one always has to deal with the occasional confusion, or the common problems such as “gluten free v. the traditional Italian menu”. But any problem was resolved quickly and the tour was a resounding success. Culturally attractive and full of beautiful venues, this region is ideal for a classical concert tour.

From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields

Monday, April 29th, 2013

 

100_1555 thumbMaria Young, Director of Music at Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School in Canterbury reflects on her experiences on the OneStage familiarization tour for musical directors to Western Bohemia in October 2012

As a result of visiting OneStage’s stand at the ABCD Convention in Leeds, I was kindly offered a place on their music directors’ inspection tour to Western Bohemia. This was a fabulous opportunity to experience first-hand the possible performing venues, to see various hotels and to experience Czech hospitality, all of which helped to sell the region as a really exciting and worthwhile destination for my forthcoming tour with the School choir.

Day 1:

After a very early arrival in Prague our party sets off westwards, visiting several traditional Bohemian towns to familiarise ourselves with the region. The spa towns offer impressive ‘colonnade’ –style venues with dedicated, sheltered performance spaces attracting  substantial audiences from the many seasonal spa-goers in the summer: the acoustics are great (forget the usual worries of outdoor performance, even for choirs)

We are told how spas are completely embedded into the Czech health system, with state-provided ‘cures’ of several weeks ‘treatments’ being commonly prescribed,  including the all-important daily stroll along the colonnades to take the spa waters and enjoy the opportunities to watch regular musical performances. The water is challengingly unpleasant to taste: far nicer are the wonderful oplatky – large wafers that were being made by hand alongside the spa fountains.

We visit a couple of large, elegant and well-patronised hotels, each with at least one substantial performance space. All seem to come with a gleaming Petrof grand piano and a stage or platform for the performers. Even on this cold late-October day, there are well-attended musical events happening: no fears of encountering a disappointingly small audience here!

We stay in Plzen, the famous brewery city about an hour west of Prague. In 2015 Plzen is the European Capital of Culture, opening up huge cultural linking opportunities for music groups to explore. A short presentation to us on our first evening introduces us to the OneStage personnel and their partners in the Czech Republic. The atmosphere is unfailingly friendly and convivial, and tremendous fun and I can’t conceive of planning a concert tour to a new destination without this kind of pre-tour familiarisation.

Day 2:

We continue to see some more traditional performance spaces, with every town boasting some kind of  theatre/’house of culture’, with a substantial stage, the obligatory Petrof grand, and good audience capacity. All are well-kept, performers are provided for, and each is shown to us by their hugely enthusiastic (and proud) manager.

For venues, OneStage really spoil us for choice today, showing us some of the options for performance in the amazing variety of churches. We begin at the monastery in Ostrov, where the now disused chapel has become a beautiful arts centre with a great acoustic and a versatile performing space; then on to other churches – largely Protestant, so generally with no programme restrictions – plus some more unusual places of worship – in Cheb, we are shown a tatty, abandoned Franciscan church in the heart of the very beautiful old town, which, with a little effort and imagination, makes the most memorable performing space and attracts a loyal audience from the local neighbourhood, who hardly ever get the chance to see inside. Such a privilege to be welcomed into these buildings, something that OneStage seems to manage for us at every turn.

Day 3:

The morning starts with an amazing trip to Plzen’s tourist jewel – the Pilsener Urquell brewery – which is greatly recommended even at an early hour!

Finally, we return to Prague, which is even more picturesque than it looks in the guidebooks. A wonderful selection of venues is on offer here, both churches and more unusual spaces such as the main hall of the National Museum of Music. The obligatory visit to the Old Town Square, then the minibus to the airport: can’t believe we’ve packed so much into the 2 ½ days: a huge number of performing, eating, sleeping and sightseeing options.

There’s an old saying in Czech: ‘If someone’s Czech, then they’re a musician’, and this seemed to ring true on our visit. It’s a country that values music very highly, and offers the most amazing welcome to its musical visitors.  If like me, you have never really considered Western Bohemia as a possible destination, I urge you to take a second look, you’ll not be disappointed! And do investigate OneStage: their local knowledge, their attention to detail and their high level of service really are second to none, and I shall certainly be using them in the future.

Redland High School concert tour

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Redland High School for Girls - Tour partyRedland High School for Girls decided on Paris as a destination for their February half-term concert tour.  It was an active five days taking in the views from Tour Montparnasse, cruising along the Seine, performing and sampling the rides at Disneyland Paris. They even managed to squeeze in further performances in the Paris environs.

Follow this link for a fuller day by day report.

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