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Article last updated: 8 June 2012

Zurich Jubilee Concert 3-5th June
Katy writes.....
After a quiet few months with the group, we have got our rather busier summer underway with the first tour of the year. We enjoyed our Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend in Zurich, celebrating with the British Residents Association!

As always with these short trips, time is of the essence, so we got on an early flight out of the UK (or Sweden in Chris’ case), and joined the bank holiday getaway on Sunday morning. The quintet was enhanced on this trip by Steve Socci, percussionist, and Dr Simon Lindley, Organist and Choral Director of Leeds Parish Church and Leeds Town Hall.

Flying with a musical instrument is almost never an enjoyable experience. However, I was even more pleased to have moved back ‘up north’ when I realised that Manchester Airport has a dedicated fast lane for us!! I sped through security leaving Les (tuba safely dispatched into outsized luggage) and Dr Simon Lindley to queue with the masses….

All flights (from Manchester, Birmingham and Stockholm) arrived on time, which was lucky as it allowed us time to have lunch out! We were taken by our hosts, to an Italian restaurant near the lake.

The first concert was straight after lunch, in an international school in the centre of Zurich. What a welcome- lovely audience (very brave as it was such a small room!), attentive children (though admittedly some had to cover their ears at times) and themed cakes to enjoy afterwards. Simon charmed the audience with his ‘history lesson’ based around the brass instruments and how they developed. This format seems to work so well- it entertains and informs whilst telling a story, and introducing music that the audience may or may not know, covering a huge range of styles.

Sadly we couldn’t stay long to chat afterwards as we had to go straight to rehearse and take part in Evensong in St Andrew’s. I have to admit that it was hard to remember that we were in Zurich sometimes as we played so much music traditional to our country whilst we were there! Some delicious truffles were presented to us backstage by the choral director, Gregory….. it’s amazing what they keep under those cassocks!

Dr Simon Lindley had been spectator until this point, but for the evening rehearsal with the Contropunto choir, he leapt into action. The choir responded with great enthusiasm, and their conductor Beat (not pronounced as it looks!) was welcoming and helpful. Sadly (?) for Steve and Jesus (our local percussionist) the percussion gear didn’t turn up until after the rehearsal! A welcome beer followed to recover from a hectic afternoon, before retiring to our hosts houses.

Monday (not a bank holiday in Switzerland) morning we went into Zurich to find the venue for the main even that evening. St Peter’s church in the centre of Zurich has the largest clock face in Europe on its tower, along with a watch tower on each of the four sides. They think this is why so many of the beautiful mediaeval buildings survived in Zurich- a very effective system of watchmen to keep a check on when fires broke out in order to keep from burning the city down.

Swiss people like things to be just so, and so most things run incredibly smoothly- public transport for instance. However, trying to explain that for a 3.30 rehearsal we didn’t want to arrive at 3.30, but 2.30, was a pretty frustrating one with the verger! Actually I’m not sure it ever was properly agreed, but we took our chances and arrived early to get the percussion loaded in, the chairs rearranged, and a warm up done! Luckily, either no one was there to tell us off, or they are sending a prosecution letter in the post we don’t know about yet……..

The concert was a fantastic success I’m glad to say, with quite a large group representing the British Ambassador, and Embassy in Bern turning up to support it. St Peter’s is a large church, and it was full. The audience helped the acoustic no end as the organ was at the opposite end to the choir and brass. Howard Griffiths, Principal Conductor of the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester, was our director for the evening.

A full concert of Walton coronation marches, his coronation Te Deum, and Elgar choral music followed, which was much enjoyed by performers and audience alike. As the assistant to the ambassador said, we didn’t have Stevie Wonder, or Sir Elton John, but Dr Simon Lindley’s presentation was certainly a lot more informed, interesting and humorous than the links I saw on the Jubilee Concert that was televised that same evening!

At the drinks reception, complete with English Sparkling wine, we met some incredibly interesting people, and many were keen to come to our Lucerne concert in July! We hope to see as many of them there as possible as it is a big hall to fill! Thanks must go to our hosts for being so hospitable, and to Joel, who took many photographs of the events for us!

Another morning, another red eye flight to catch….. Home again for now. Next concert is in Gorton monastery, Manchester on 17th june, so a nice local date for me, then off for a return trip to Potsdam, a beautiful town just outside Berlin on the 23rd.

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Japan Tour Cancelled
We heard this morning that the tour we had scheduled for Japan in December 2011 has had to be cancelled. The current economic climate in Japan (worldwide!) was making promoters initially uneasy and then with the recent devastating earthquake the country has endured, it has been decided that 2011 is not the best time for us to visit. It's a great disappointment as it's been nearly twenty years since FAB last toured the country. However, the tour organisers did say they are hoping to organise a trip for us at a later date so fingers crossed we will be back there before too long.

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Music for Our Lady CD released
featuring FAB in Jean Langlais Mass
The Langlais Mass we recorded in March 2010 with St Mary's Collegiate Church Choir, Warwick has been released (as of December 2010) on Regent Records.

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Latest CD
We’re happy to announce that the CD we recorded between Christmas and New Year 2009 with Nigel Boddice and the West Lothian School Brass Band is now out on the Doyen Label. Although we were hampered by some horrendous snow last December we managed to complete the CD in just two days. Originally, we had planned to record it over three, but fears that we might all be stranded in Scotland because of the weather hastened our resolve! As a result we decided to add an extra solo recording session in February 2010 for the FAB solo items: Suite from Love the Magician and Farewell to Stromness.

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BBC Sunday Half Hour Show
Following our recording in May from Derby Cathedral for BBC 1’s Songs of Praise, we are delighted that BBC religion have been knocking once again at our door. This time it’s Radio 2 and their flagship show, Sunday Half Hour. They have asked us to record their ‘Christmas Special’ from Coventry Cathedral which will be broadcast on the network on the last Sunday before Christmas 2010. We shall be collaborating once again with Paul Leddington Wright and the St Michael Singers in some Christmas favourites.

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