2016 is the 40th Anniversary Year of Harmonie Concert band, a community band based in Rayleigh, and the band has chosen to mark the occasion in three ways: 1 – the commissioning of a new piece of music for windband, 2 – a gala concert to be held in Basildon on the 15th October and 3 – a tour to Belgium.
The tour took place during the summer holidays and is the second time this community band has travelled to the continent but the first time it has performed in Belgium. The beautiful, historic town of Ghent provided the accommodation for the band and offered sight-seeing opportunities for the band members before heading to Oostende for the first concert on the bandstand in the town square. The sun broke through the clouds at exactly the right moment and Harmonie Concert Band performed to those sat in the cafes that surrounded the square as well as those who came to sit and listen.
The next morning the band stopped at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest WW1 cemetery for British soldiers in Belgium. This was a very moving experience and brought home the scale of the atrocities and waste of life of this conflict. This theme continued for the rest of the day as the band headed for Ypres (decimated in the First World War) for its second concert. The weather was not as accommodating as it had been with the skies growing ominously dark but the rain held off for two hours and an appreciative audience gathered to listen to the band and requested the band play on beyond its two-hour performance slot. After dinner the band was able to witness the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate (dedicated to those fallen in WW1) before heading back to the hotel to relax, unwind and reflect on a very successful tour.
The band begins rehearsing again in September in preparation for its Gala Concert at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon, the town where the band was formed. The Concert takes place on the 15th October and tickets are available from the Box Office 01268 465 465.
You can see a photo gallery here