Fairlop Brass – March 2022

A party of 35 left their Hainault base and headed for Dover for a ferry crossing to Dunkirk. On arriving in France, a short coach journey took the Band to its base for the Tour, the seaside town of Blankenberge. Just enough time for a short rehearsal before dinner and a free evening exploring our new surroundings on the Belgium National Day Bank Holiday; ending in an excellent fireworks display (nothing to do with us arriving!!)

Next day an early start saw the group travel to Ypres. The morning was spent on an organised tour of three local War Cemetery’s (Commonwealth sites Essex Farms and Tyne Cot and German site Langemark). There was a short period of free time before the Band presented a concert in Ypres town square next to The Flanders Field Museum. The concert drew a sizable audience including those in local bars and restaurants and included well know pieces such as March Star Lake, Pastime with Good Company, and Radetzky March.

After more free time the Band assembled to have the honour of performing in the nightly Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. The Menin Gate contains the names of nearly 55,000 soldiers who died during WW1 but their remains have never been discovered. The ceremony started in 1929 and is held every night of the year with the Last Post being performed by members of the local Fire Brigade. A crowd of around 800 people assembled for the service during which the Band played Abide with Me and Nimrod. The positive feedback was phenomenal from both audience and organisers, with many people shedding tears during the performance. Fairlop Brass were so honoured to be part of the ceremony, and never has 6 minutes of playing meant so much to the Band and its supporters.

The next day was spent at leisure in Bruges. A Canal Boat trip and Chocolate making demonstration were arranged for the morning. The afternoon was spent browsing this beautiful city with some members of the Band attending a Brewery Tour, before we all headed back to our hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure.

The next day was another prompt start as we travelled to Ghent for the final full day. The morning was spend wandering the medieval streets before the Band assembled to give a concert at the fabulous setting of St. Michielskerk Church. The concert had been advertised as the closing musical performance of the famous Ghent festival (the largest Music and Arts festival in Europe). An audience of over 200 found the Band in top form presenting a varied programme including A Little Prayer, In Flanders Field, Highland Cathedral with Solos from Principal Cornet Adam Cuttell (First Light) and Tenor Horn Alan Poultney (Over the Rainbow). The Dean of the Church compered the Concert alongside MD Kevin Jordan and closed the event with glowing praise for the Band, enforcing the positive impact musical groups have in these troubled times.

The Band travelled back to its hotel for a final dinner together before the end of tour celebrations started. The next morning saw the Band depart for home, tired but incredibly uplifted and proud of their achievements.

Kevin Jordan

Musical Director

Fairlop Brass