Before I moved to France, I thought that there was not much in the way of amateur music-making going on here. Wrong. There's so much that it's all considered rather ordinary, so no-one really talks much about it. The only time when the band I play in, at St Suzanne, does any publicity, is when there is a concert going on. There's no need to advertise the regular Friday rehearsals, or to invite new musicians to come and play, because everyone knows: you just turn up.
On Sunday we had a fête de musique; a whole afternoon and evening of free concerts, given by four different harmonie bands from Vallet, Brain Andard, Quelaines and Fontenay le Comte. In the evening we had the (professional) band of the French Navy at Brest. We, as the Harmonie of St Suzanne, hosted the event.
We started putting up the tents on Friday, but Sunday was the day it all came together. Tents up, tarpaulins over, tables out, chairs out, band stand up, barbeque fired up, beer cold and under pressure, sausages inna bun ready to go.....
The hall, holding upwards of 750 was full. The bands presented fabulous concerts from film music, through classical, arrangements of pop songs, jazz, the lot. And in between, the barbeque, wine, beer, soft drinks. The weather was a bit variable, but luckily most of the showers were during the performances, when everyone was indoors listening, anyway.
I think that military bands are often under-rated. But when your nation wants to greet and impress a senior foreign dignitary, your band had better be good. The "Musique des Equipages de la Flotte de Brest" are seriously good. Their concert was fantastic.
Beer tent. Most important!
....especially as a place to shelter from the afternoon showers!
The Banda Suzanne gave an informal lunchtime recital
Four different Harmonies played their individual concerts during the afternoon.
Musique des Equipages de la Flotte de Brest