On Saturday 31st March staff and students from the music department embarked on a five day tour of Germany.

The Rhineland is an extremely picturesque part of Europe, and we stayed in a lovely village called Bad Honnef, surrounded by hills and vineyards. The youth hostel’s facilities were fantastic, with a rehearsal suite, outdoor amphitheater, en-suite rooms, and a floodlit sports court on which we enjoyed a late evening run around to wind down after the hectic days. Students (and staff!) joined in with football and basketball

The Beethoven house in Bonn provided an opportunity for us to learn more about one of the world’s greatest composers, and for some proved to be a truly moving and emotional experience.

From the life and death masks and Beethoven’s first baby bonnet, to original manuscripts and the piano at which much of his music was composed, the museum was a real highlight of the trip (and a chance for us to practice our German!).

Bonn is a beautiful town, and it was lovely to wander round the square on a sleepy Sunday morning, listening to the church bells and admiring the architecture. There were some great photo opportunities and we had a chance to sit and relax (or for the 6th formers to play ‘duck, duck, goose’!) before the start of our series of concerts.

Our opening concert took place at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, an imposing castle looking over the Deutsches Eck where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet.

After navigating seemingly endless winding roads through the towns and villages, we finally arrived on the plateau and were met by the concert organiser – in a golf caddy! We discovered that we were playing right at the top of the fortress and that all of our equipment had to be transported up there. It was definitely worth it though, as from our position at the top of the fortress we could see for miles!

In these surroundings it would have been impossible not to have a good time, and we very much enjoyed entertaining the crowds with a mix of upbeat wind band arrangements, including ‘Stevie Wonder in Concert’, ‘Flashdance’, and ‘Phantom of the Opera Medley’ amongst others.

The concert also featured spirited contributions from the Y10/11 and the 6th form bands, and a fantastic performance of ‘The Wizard and I’, sung by Rebecca Allcock.

Once our programme was completed, all of the bands enjoyed some time to relax (and eat some German food). Several of the staff and students were approached by audience members with excellent feedback – and even some asking where our other concerts were so that they could come and listen again!

Some of the group took a trip on the newly installed cable car from the very top of the fortress, down over the river to the Deutsches Eck, where we had chance to look around before meeting up with the rest of our group and making our way back to the hostel for dinner and a quick run around before bed.

After an early wake up call on Monday morning, we set off for a whole day at Phantasialand theme park which was a great chance to let our hair down. Students and staff all very much enjoyed some free time, although some of our GCSE students did manage to turn it into a revision session when they hijacked the performance of some African drummers and dancers and joined in!

The day flew by and it was soon time to leave for our concert back at the hostel.
To perform a full concert programme after such a long and hectic day out is quite some feat, but the students showed their fantastic efficiency and stamina by pulling together for another excellent performance in front of a small but extremely appreciative audience.

This was the first chance we had to feature Ronan Pilkington playing a piano solo & Hannah Birtwell accompanying herself on guitar, and we also very much enjoyed hearing from our newly formed saxophone choir who gave excellent performances of ‘Isn’t She Lovely’.

Our final concert took place in the Kurpark Pavillion, Bad Munster, a recital room in the middle of a beautiful park set amongst some breathtaking scenery.

Music Department Germany Trip April 2012