CUWO Tour 2018 | Montreal and New York

Between 2nd and 11th July 2018, the Cambridge University Wind Orchestra embarked to Canada on our most ambitious tour yet in celebration of our 30th Anniversary. Although based in Montreal, we played five concerts across the cities of Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec, as well as enjoying free time to explore each of the cities. We were also fortunate that the week of our tour fell during the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which gave us the opportunity to watch free evening concerts which were a ten-minute walk away from our hostel.

After a day of rehearsals at St Thomas’ Church in Montreal, the orchestra enjoyed a group evening meal at a burger bar before getting on the coach the next morning to travel to Quebec City for our first concert. The concert, which formed part of Chalmers-Wesley Church’s lunchtime concert series, went down extremely well with the audience, and was followed by a free lunch and walking tour generously provided by the church, allowing us the opportunity to get a real feel for the city in the short time we had there.

The next day was our busiest day of music, with the first of two concerts taking place at a geriatric hospital in Montreal in collaboration with New Horizons Band, an ensemble for local adult beginners. We then travelled the short distance to Mont Royal park for our second concert. A few days before setting off on tour, we had discovered that the concert organisers had moved the location of the concert due to the size of the orchestra, and the new venue gave us incredible views of the sun setting over Montreal as we played to an appreciative audience. Many of the orchestra agreed that this was the most memorable concert location they had ever played at. The concert was ably presented in French by two members of the orchestra to the bilingual crowd.

Friday was a free day for the orchestra, allowing us time to enjoy the hostel hot tub and split into groups to explore the sights and activities that Montreal had to offer, such as the maple syrup shop and an evening light show at Notre-Dame Basilica. Then on Saturday we travelled to Calypso Waterpark to give two hour-long performances. This gave us the opportunity to bring out some of our lighter, crowd pleasing repertoire. In between our performances, we were given free entry to the waterpark, allowing us to cool off in the heat and sunshine.

Sunday was our final full day in Canada, and the day of our final concert. This was a joint performance with Ottawa Wind Ensemble, a group made up of professional and semi-professional musicians, as part of the ‘Music and Beyond’ Festival in Ottawa. This was a fabulous opportunity to hear an experienced ensemble play some unfamiliar repertoire, and we also greatly enjoyed collaborating with them for two joint pieces at the end of the concert. That evening, we travelled back to the hostel for a party to celebrate our final night in Canada, and a collection of presents and tour awards were handed out.

However, this was not the end of the tour! The next morning, we set off early on a coach to New York City, where we had a twenty-four hour stay before our plane flight home. Many people managed to pack an impressive amount of sightseeing into this short period of time, with a real highlight being a pre-planned evening group trip to ‘Top of the Rock’ to watch the sun set over the city.

Huge thanks must go to Marcel Welsh, Joe Curran and especially to Robin Otter, who not only managed the tour without the help of a tour company, but also drove the percussion van to our concerts all week. The tour was a fitting end to a wonderful 30th year of music making for CUWO.

Emily Neve, CUWO President 2018-2019

 

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Cambridge University Musical Society
West Road Concert Hall
11 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Principal Guest Conductor
Sir Roger Norrington CBE
CUMS Conductor Laureate
Stephen Cleobury CBE
Director, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
Martin Ennis
Artistic Advisor
Sian Edwards
Associate Directors, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
David Lowe, Nicholas Mulroy