"While at school I had so many opportunities to participate in both the Senior Choir and Chamber Choir, and the Music Department regularly held informal concerts which were fantastic opportunities to perform."

Laurie Ashworth - Prize-Winning Opera Singer

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Joint Jazz Band Plays Luxembourg

Monday, 21 July 2014

After their performance at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Joint Jazz Band travelled across Europe to visit Luxembourg City. With a workshop at Luxembourg conservatoire to look forward to as well as a performance on the bandstand in the city’s main square, this second stop on the tour was certain to be as memorable as the first!

Members of the Jazz Band wrote about their experiences in Luxembourg:

“After an eight hour journey we arrived at the beautiful yet very hot city of Luxembourg. Despite a twenty minute reverse manoeuver around a hairpin turn, the coach finally arrived at the youth hostel. We checked in and, after dinner outside in the lovely weather, we headed for a quiet walk along the historic bridges that surround the city. We wandered through the cobbled streets until we reached the main square, where we first set our eyes on the stage which we would be performing on two days later.

“The following day, the Upper Sixth were set the challenge of providing twenty-four people with three meals with a budget of just €140! They went shopping for food, which included an hour and a half struggle to find disposable barbecues in a foreign and largely French-speaking city. The euros were wisely spent on bread, cheese and ham for sandwiches at lunch time. However, the budget would not stretch far enough to purchase steak for everyone that evening, which seemed to dishearten many. This exciting budget-stretching challenge had to be put on hold during the afternoon, however, as there was jazz to be played.

“The band headed to Luxembourg conservatoire to experience a three hour workshop in a state of the art facility. The workshop aimed to improve our collective musicianship and communication, as well as giving us an insight into the “dos and don’ts” of jazz improvisation. Our workshop was taken by Ernie Hammes, who helped us greatly with our use of dynamics, articulation and unity in some of our existing pieces, including ‘Cruisin’ for a Bluesin’ and ‘Birdland’, as well as a new piece called ‘Emergency Stopping Only’. We all found the workshop extremely helpful and we took away a great deal of advice.

“Once we had returned to the youth hostel, the boys spent hours failing to light the fire. Surprisingly it was the girls – who had previously been shunned to the salad preparation! – who eventually set the barbecue ablaze with the aid of many tins of Vaseline. The barbecue was a great success in the end.

“On our last day, Mr Schwartz gave us a brief introductory tour of the city, giving an insight into the history and culture as we passed various monuments. These included the parliament buildings and cathedral. He also took us through the beautiful valleys which lie beneath Luxembourg City. We returned to the hostel to change into our all black uniform – not ideal in 25 degree heat! – in preparation for our performance.

“We performed on the bandstand stage in the main square, which we had previously seen on the first night. It was a brilliant venue and we attracted a large crowd. The people sitting in the surrounding bars and restaurants all seemed to enjoy listening to our varied repertoire as well. This was the final concert as members of the Jazz Band for the Year 13s and by the end many a tear had been shed. It has to be said it was mainly the female members!

“The evening brought a wonderful meal at an Indian restaurant. Miss Berry had ordered us a banquet of food containing 28 curries! It is safe to say that we were more than catered for. However, a certain Zack Howarth still insisted that he took a healthy portion back to the hostel with him!

“On return, we retired to the deck chairs outside at the front of the hostel for a relaxing glass of wine – for those of age legal age, of course – to celebrate the success of the tour as a whole.”

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The Band on one of the bridges overlooking the city

The Band on one of the bridges overlooking the city

The workshop with Ernie Hammes was a definite highlight

The workshop with Ernie Hammes was a definite highlight

Performing on the bandstand in Luxembourg main square

Performing on the bandstand in Luxembourg's main square