NCB Switzerland/France Tour - May 23 - Fontevraud

On Wednesday, 23 May, the National Capital Band had our longest travel day of the tour, leaving Zürich at 5:15 am. With the travel distance to Tours in France, driver rest stops required by regulation, and an anticipated stop for passport checks at the border, the estimated travel time was 12 hours. Fortunately, we did not have to stop at the border, and traffic was lighter than anticipated, so we made excellent time (despite the fact that at every stop the men's restroom was being cleaned and was either closed or partially closed). The band ate lunch on the road and we arrived in Fontevraud in good time.

Fontevraud is a very small village, with its main attraction being the Abbey, which dates back to the Middle Ages and is the burial place for, among others, Richard the Lion-Heart and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Time constraints prevented the band from seeing the Abbey except at a distance, however. The concert venue was the hall at the local community center. The stage was rather too small for the band, so we set up on the floor, making it a more intimate experience for the audience of around 200 persons. One concern was the lack of percussion equipment, because we had been using items borrowed from the Zürich Central Corps in Switzerland. Arrangements had been made to rent equipment in Paris, but we were not sure how it was to meet up with the band at our earlier stops. Fortunately, the cavalry arrived before dinner in the persons of Rodney Gravett and Ron Young, British Salvationists who have retired in France. They had rented a truck in the Normandy area, driven 300 km to Paris, picked up the percussion equipment, and driven back to Fontevraud to deliver it. The band is extremely grateful for their efforts, which greatly enhanced our efforts in France.

The band's journey to this part of France had special meaning for our divisional leaders, Lt.-Colonels William and LaVerne Crabson, whose daughter, Nancy, and her husband live in the nearby town of Saumur. The divisional commander served as compére for the festival, with Jamie Hood providing translation. The concert kicked off with the march Sovereignty (Brian Bowen), followed by Stephen Bulla's selection In Light We Walk. Ian Anderson played the cornet solo Share My Yoke (Joy Webb, arr. Ivor Bosanko) and bass trombonist Matt Sims gave a lively personal testimony. The first half continued with the cornet duet Quicksilver, featuring Ian Anderson and Noel Morris. The title work of the NCB's most recent recording, The Words of the Amen (James Anderson) completed the first portion of the program.

The second half of the program was filled with lively items, starting with Winchester Revival (Kenneth Downie) and Blessings! (Nick Simmons-Smith). Stephen Bulla and David Delaney presented a trombone and cornet duet, Joy In My Soul (Erik Silfverberg). Our flügel soloist, Chris Dennard, was also featured in another lively item, Leonard Ballantine's swing arrangement Sweet By and By. Following a Scripture reading and brief message from Lt.-Colonel William Crabson, the second half concluded with a classic of Salvation Army brass band literature, Army of the Brave (George Marshall). Appreciative applause from the audience led to an encore, Erik Leidzén's march On the King's Highway. The band's final item in farewell was America the Beautiful (Carmen Dragon, arr. Bob Clemons).

As usual, there were several people to thank for the work involved in setting up the evening in Fontevraud. The band acknowledged the work of the kitchen crew, who provided an excellent dinner: Mr. and Madame Méenager, Madame Gomez, Gisele Berrault, Chantal Baillargeau, and Jean-Pierre DuPont. Local civic officials were also present, including the assistant mayor, Dominique LeRoi, and the president of the local Association of Culture and Tourism, Regina Catin. The efforts of Alain and Nancy Guillemant were also recognized.

Brass Crest Staff Report