At the end of May 2002 Constantine Silver Band embarked on their first tour of Holland. The visit came about through band member Brian Edwards’s chance meeting with Bart Kraak from Holland nearly 30 years ago when Bart and his family were holidaying in the area, since then they have kept in contact ever since with Bart (a founder member of the Den Helder Fisherman’s Choir, a male voice of over 100 members) asking when is Ian going to come to Holland with a band.
So on Tuesday 28th May a party of 64 travelled to Den Helder in North Holland arriving on Wednesday afternoon. Everyone settled into the Hotel and in the evening the band had a final rehearsal before a hectic few days. During the rehearsal the Mayor of Den Helder came and officially welcomed the band to the city.
The first Concert was on Thursday at the Floriade near Amsterdam. It’s the World Horticulture Exhibition only held every ten the company. The band played between the original copper vats and asyears and attracts some three million visitors worldwide from April to October. While the band were there everyone had a chance to look at the colourful variety of exhibitions on offer.
After the concert at the Floriade the party drove into Amsterdam city centre where the band played at the ‘Heineken Experience’ – Amsterdam’s latest tourist attraction. The ‘Experience’ was the former original brewery of the Heineken family who still own it and shows in great detail how “the beer that reaches other parts” is made and the history of with the Floriade became the first British brass band to play there. Following the concert the party had a chance to look around and some experiencing eating English style fish and chips with a strawberry on top!
On Friday the party had a chance to sightsee and shop in Den Helder which has some 60,000 residents. In the evening the band gave another well received concert at the Nogalwiedus Restaurant who’s owner provided a free meal for everyone. The evening ended with a traditional sing-song.
Saturday morning and the band were up early to play at the official opening of Den Helder’s Day Of Music which began in the city square. Following their onstage concert the band marched through the city centre.
The entire party were then treated to lunch at the Visserhall by the Male Voice Choir before the band had a quick practice with the choir prior to the sell out final concert at the hall with the Male Voice Choir and ‘Rejoice’, a 60 strong ladies choir. Each gave a 30 minute individual performance before the band and choirs massed together for the singing and playing of Glory Glory Halleujah. Again the band were the first British brass band to take part in the day of music. During their performance the band gave two encores much to the delight of the audience. Solo items on the tour featured Belinda Reynolds (cornet), Aly Smith (flugel), Cecil Bennetts (euphonium), Greg Williams (trombone) and an unforgettable performance by Tony Waddington on the bass drum.
The party and choir members had a fairwell get together before returning to Constantine on Sunday June 2nd. Mementos of the band were given to Herman de Wijn for all his help and assistance to the band, the choir, the mayor, Brian Edwards and Bart Kraak. Travel arrangements for the visit were made by Dougie Down, Accommodation and concerts by lan Edwards and Herman de Wijn.