It was an early start for 60 members of the Concert Band and Sinfonia as they boarded a 90-seater luxury coach bound for the Veneto region of Italy. But the party was soon in full swing as the group departed on their 30-hour journey to one of the most beautiful areas of Italy.

The tour was organised through Specialised Travel Ltd, and we were treated to a 4* hotel, excellent meals (the best being in an amazing open-air restaurant outside Lavarone) and well publicised concerts in great venues.

The group gave two concerts in stunning venues high in the Dolomites, one in the beautiful Alpine town of Lavarone and the other in the magnificent cathedral in the spa town of Asiago. Both concerts were packed with locals and holiday makers who gave a rapturous welcome with standing ovations for both concerts. The Duomo in Asiago was particularly impressive with the audience packed to the very back of the cathedral. 

 

As well as the concerts, the young musicians had the chance to visit Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, visiting the very balcony which was said to have inspired the story, and the amazing city of Venice, taking in Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace as well as having time to explore in small the groups. The group learnt about the powerful family dynasties that ruled the different regions of Italy in the renaissance period, and the rise of the great Venetian Empire from the swamps of the venetian lagoon. They had a taste of the great cultural, musical and artistic developments in these cities as well as being able to explore and soak up the special atmosphere of Venice by night.

The tour alternated between the sweltering heat of the Italian plain and the fresher climate of the Alpine uplands, with some impressive coach journeys with stunning Alpine scenery and hair-raising mountain roads (expertly negotiated by our superb drivers Ken and Sean).

The group had a very wide age range, with a substantial group of players from the Intermediate Wind Band joining us. The initial plan was to include some repertoire specifically for their ability level, but in practice they played everything, even the most advanced wind band classics.

Our team of 8 staff, which included two ex-members of the music centre now studying music, ensured that everything ran safely and to plan with suitable activities for all age groups. But the highlight of the activities had to be swimming and boating in the lake at Lavarone, surrounded by mountains. The now infamous “Pedalo” race in the lake was captured on film by our resident photographer Gareth Widdowson.

All the official pictures of the tour by Gareth are available on our Flickr gallery via the website and plenty of other pictures are shared on the Facebook page.

The Music Foundation runs international concert tours every two years and it has become a major part of the life of the music centre. We’re already looking forward to the next tour which we hope will be to Poland in 2020.