We arrived at Hotel Bristol in Caen yesterday evening. It was great to be back in the same hotel after only 4 months, having been here to play in the D-Day celebrations at the beginning of June. The same smiling faces at the reception desk, remembering that we like to sit and chat (amongst other things…) late into the evening, so providing us immediately with somewhere quiet to go so as not to disturb the other guests!!
The only thing missing as we walked through the door was the sight of Andrew Burn – he had set up post on a particular chair in the reception area when we were last here, always holding a clipboard. He is unable to join us until today because he was otherwise engaged with a Kokoro concert in Bradford-on-Avon yesterday.
Today we have rehearsed ‘Sous Les Pommiers’, a fabulous piece by Sammy Hurden about people’s experiences of WW2 using 22 primary school children from Portsmouth and 80 French school children, 11 musicians (Resonate Strings, a string quartet of utterly charming and delightful French musicians from Orchestra Regional de Basse-Normandie, which is based in Caen, drums and trumpet) and two young narrators reading survivors’ stories linking the songs together, with contemporary film footage behind. In the middle of the day’s rehearsals, our hosts treated us to a fabulous lunch.
The calories consumed came in very handy during the extremely detailed and lengthy rehearsal of Nimrod that followed. Now off to pace the streets on the hunt for yet more food. At least it’s not freezing cold and pouring with rain as it was yesterday when we arrived. Looking forward to our first concert at Caen Memorial Museum tomorrow morning.
This was the final part of a project that took place in October when the BSO Resonate Strings and BSO guest musicians travelled to Caen to give the French premiere of Sous Les Pommiers with musicians of l’Orchestre Regional de Basse-Normandie and pupils from a school in Caen.
The project was funded through an EU Interreg grant which was successfully bid for by Caen and Portsmouth City Councils. Our involvement in the project has come about through the BSO’s long-standing relationship with Portsmouth City Council, and in particular a previous EU-funded project which the Mini BSO worked on.