This summer was no ordinary summer for members of Seindorf Beaumaris Youth Band who, rather than a long, lazy and quite frankly boring school holiday, enjoyed a mini tour of Norway.
The tour, which saw them playing two concerts in and around the town of Stavanger was a reward for their success and hard work over the previous 18 months.
"We have had an incredible 18 months as a Youth Band, winning the Youth Entertainment Championships of Great Britain, performing at the Royal Albert Hall as well as appearing at the Brass In Concert weekend in Gateshead," band Musical Director, Gwyn Evans.
The Band have several Norwegian connections, with players from Beaumaris travelling to Stavanger to play and with players from Stavanger coming over to Wales to play with Beaumaris Band. So Norway was the obvious destination.
"It all started back in 2004 when we were struggling for a flugel player for the Welsh nationals," explained Gwyn. "In the end, I played flugel and we invited Norwegian conductor, Morten Hansen, over to lead us, and the friendship has continued to this day."
"Through Morten we made a connection with Tasta Skolekorps and their conductor, Morten Øvrebekk and from there we started the planning!"
The trip got off to a great, if not unexpected, start as the members of Beaumaris and Tasta bands enjoyed a barbecue and social evening at Lundsvågen outward bound center with an invite to take a swim in the icy cold waters of the North Sea.
Never ones to shirk a challenge, the members of the Youth Band, were in their swimming costumes and into the sea before you could say "yikes, it's cold!"
And it was very, very cold!
The following day both the Tasta Skolekorps Band and Beaumaris Youth Band gave a fantastic open air concert on the steps of the cathedral in Stavanger’s old town.
With a cruise ship in town for the day, there was quite a crowd for the performance which was enjoyed by one and all … especially by the hen party who stopped to listen … and dance!
On the Sunday morning the Band travelled up to the town of Tysvær by bus, but this was no ordinary journey as it included bridges, tunnels and ferries as we crossed over, under and on the fjords enjoying some spectacular scenery and photo opportunities galore.
The concert with Rogaland Ungdomskorps, the Rogaland County Wind Band was another incredible experience for the Beaumaris youngsters.
The Wind Band had spent the weekend on their County Band Summer Course and the Youth Band were invited to take part in the end of course concert before an expectant audience of parents and friends. The reception received by the Youth Band was testament to their playing as they wowed their hosts with the set they had performed at the Youth Entertainment Championships of Great Britain.
Suffice to say, our Norwegian hosts now know how good a Youth band we have in Beaumaris!
It was a very tired and emotional airplane which headed home from Stavanger on the Monday morning, but the Youth Band had more than acquitted themselves both as musicians and as ambassadors for Beaumaris Band.