CUWO Tour Amsterdam 2019 Blog

Monday 1stJuly

On Monday 1stJuly, members of CUWO arrived bright and early in Cambridge to kick off the 2019 tour to Amsterdam. We assembled in Robinson Chapel to rehearse and refresh our memories of the pieces we had played throughout out the year. The programme comprised Jazz Suite No. 2 (Shostakovich), a Disney medley, East Coast Pictures (Nigel Hess) Short Ride in a Fast Machine (Adams), Suite in F (Holst) and Hoedown (Copland). We also revived the fabulous and fun Danzon No. 2 (Marquez) from our 2017-18 repertoire. After a promising rehearsal, we loaded up the coach around lunch time. Squeezing all the percussion, instruments and luggage into the coach and trailer we set off for Amsterdam.

With a smooth coach and ferry journey, we arrived in Amsterdam late on Monday night. At this point, many decided to have an early night to recuperate ready for the rest of the week, whilst others went in search of some tasty food before turning in for the night. 

Tuesday 2ndJuly

Tuesday was our first full day in Amsterdam. We spent the day rehearsing in a small theatre about a 30-minute walk from the hostel, allowing members to enjoy a scenic walk along the canals to introduce them to the city. Although the rehearsal was long and intensive, it definitely made a difference to our playing after having a break for exams, and giving further chance to rehearse the deps (who made up around one fifth of the orchestra – with many past players returning!). After the rehearsal, the managers had organized a bowling session followed by a pizza group dinner. This was a great way to integrate deps and catch up with friends, as well as to relax after the rehearsal with food and drinks. 

After bowling many explored the evening sights of Amsterdam, including some bars along the canal in addition to catching the tail-end of the England-USA Football World Cup match. 

Wednesday 3rdJuly

On Wednesday, we had our first free morning in Amsterdam. Several people took this opportunity to have a bit of a lie-in after the long rehearsal the day before, while some of CUWO decided to take advantage of the hostel’s excellent central location and go for a 7.30am run alongside the beautiful canals twisting through the city. After another good hostel breakfast, the orchestra set off in groups to explore the capital. Some went immediately to the Rijksmuseum, while others just wandered through the city, enjoying copious amounts of ice cream and waffles. 

After lunch, we departed south for the town of Delft, which is situated just east of The Hague. We had a few hours to do some sightseeing – a highlight of which was climbing the 350ft tower of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) – and then we had an incredible tapas dinner at Tapas & Mezzes. This was delicious, with no less than twenty separate dishes, including ones specially prepared for the vegetarian and vegan members of the group. In the evening, we performed in a joint concert with Royal Wind Orchestra Delft in the charming Beestenmarkt (Market Square). Both orchestras were very well received by the Delft residents, who were relaxing in chairs and bars around the square; it was great to experience a different style of wind band playing. Special mention goes to the percussion and the other setting-up volunteers for unpacking and repacking the percussion trailer in record time!

Thursday 4thJuly

Thursday began with an insightful and moving visit to one of Amsterdam’s most renowned museums; the Anne Frank House. It was a group activity kindly organised by Olivia and Richard in advance, meaning there was no stressing about tickets and no long queues. Splitting then into groups, further activities included taking a two-hour-long boat trip along the city’s famous canals, which turned out to be a perfect way to see a huge amount of the city without having to walk around! 

In the evening, we played our second concert of the tour, this time in Amsterdam’s Oosterkerk, about a half-hour walk from the hostel. The slight delay of the bus’ arrival treated us to some delightful performances from our orchestra’s members, of which a personal favourite was Toby [clarinet] serenading Ed [conductor] with an interesting rendition of Mamma Mia. The concert was well received to say the least, and we were met with a standing ovation! It was an excellent opportunity to play in one of the Netherland’s beautiful churches.

The day ended with a whole orchestral trip to the supermarket to stock up on essentials (crisps, Tony’s Chocolonely’s and stroop-waffles), before our last full day in the Netherlands!

Friday 5thJuly

On the Friday, members took the opportunity to enjoy our last free morning in Amsterdam. Destinations included the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, a trip to the beach, as well as the social secs sorting prizes and presents for later! In the afternoon, we took a short coach ride to the beautiful city of Haarlem, just on the outskirts of Amsterdam. 

We enjoyed dinner and drinks around the beautiful squares, before we headed to our rather unusual location of an abandoned prison to play our final concert. We were welcomed by the committee arranging the ‘Night of the Choirs’, part of the unique Koorbiennale festival (the only choir festival in the world). The Night of the Choirs involves members of the public cycling to various secret concert locations in pelotons, and CUWO (playing in their dashing stash) were effectively a warm-up act for this as ticket holders gathered before they departed. The audience was incredibly warm, and even conga-lining their way out of the arena! As part of this, we were lucky enough to be let into the old panopticon prison – a spooky yet fascinating experience, the abandoned property is soon to be turned into a university! 

After this, we headed on the coach home where tour awards and presents for the committee and conductor were handed out by our social secs, before we spent the rest of the night in the bar (with a plentiful supply of drinks bought by the managers) and hostel club to celebrate the end of the week! This was before we had to be rudely awakened very early the next day (for those of us who went to sleep at all), all very tired, to take the coach back to Cambridge via Calais. 

It was a week much enjoyed by all, and we look forward to seeing what next year’s committee has in store! Huge thanks go to Olivia Dodd and Richard Moulange for masterminding the whole tour without the help of a tour company, and Robin Otter (last year’s manager) for being an astute treasurer. It was a definite success!

Blog by Alex Hunt, Bridget Morris, Emma Macrae, Richard Moulange and Olivia Dodd