On Monday September 17, 2012 the members of the Manotick Brass Ensemble and their small entourage of spouses and friends arrived in Jersey, the largest of the British Channel Islands. The two-week trip was a dream-come-true for Martin Luce, trombone player and manager of the Manotick Brass. Martin, who was born and raised in Jersey, meticulously designed and organized the visit, assembling a varied programme of entertainment. The five musicians, Kazimier Samujlo and Chris Sandes (trumpets), Christine Hansen (French horn), Martin Luce (trombone) and Harold Floysvik (tuba) performed on nine different occasions.
The group brought their popular education programme, “What’s the Buzz” to three local primary Parish Schools in Trinity, St. Martins and St. John. The presentation is designed to introduce young children to the brass instrument family “in an interacting and engaging way.” The pupils in each school entered into the spirit of the event, clapping, singing, marching and laughing. During the windup question and answer session at the end of one performance, a little 5 year old boy told the musicians that they had made his day!
There were many opportunities to appeal to the grown-up music lovers as well. Two of the performances had distinct themes: ”Joyful Brass” and “Shining Brass”. The second half of both concerts provided a trip down memory lane for Martin and his many relatives, friends and former neighbours. The musical selections reflected Martin’s youthful adventures, his childhood on the Luce farm and joyful Sunday School picnics. One of the most popular numbers was a lively rendition of “Who Let the Cows Out?” – a tribute to one of Jersey’s most endearing and enduring symbols, the Jersey cow. Right on cue, courtesy of Patti and Rosa, a sassy, dancing cow stole the show from the quintet and flirted shamelessly with audience members.
There was also an impromptu concert for a herd of Jersey cows we encountered on the way back from a school presentation. After hastily pulling their instruments from the vans, the ensemble played with gusto and the beautiful bovines cantered across the field to the group to listen with rapt appreciation.
For the final concert at St. Heliers Town Church, the Brass paid tribute to the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The programme featured pieces that reflected the many visits The Queen has made to Canada over her long reign. The highlight of this concert was “A Canadian Royal Salute,” based on a composition by Antoinne Desane, an organist and composer living in Quebec in the 1860s. The version played in St. Heliers, commissioned by Manotick Brass, was arranged by Ottawa composer and arranger, Lloyd Hiscock. The stirring combination of “Vive la Canadienne” and “ God Save the Queen” was an audience favourite.
There was a charitable component to the concerts, with the revenue from ticket sales for the St Martin’s Concert (Shining Brass) going towards paying down the debt for the renovation to the church hall. This came to over BPS 600.00. At the Town Church, donations of over BPS 100.00 went to the organ renovation fund.
Despite the rehearsals and performances, there was plenty of time to sample the many attractions that Jersey offers. We travelled from coast to coast to coast to coast. We enjoyed dramatic weather, as gale force winds whipped the north coast. We has a sobering history lesson as we visited the Jersey War Tunnels – a chilling reminder of the Nazi occupation of Jersey during the Second World War. We even managed to fit in some international travel in the form of a day trip to St. Malo in Brittany. The statue of Jacques Cartier and numerous references to the great explorer gave us a taste of home.
What is a holiday without wonderful food? Jersey abounds in palate-pleasing opportunities – pub lunches, afternoon tea and sumptuous dinners. The island is a paradise for those who love seafood. Best of all, of course, was the hospitality we received throughout our stay. From the warm welcome at the airport, to the tea, coffee and desserts after evening concerts, to the invitation to afternoon tea at the home of friends, to a dinner party hosted by the Luce family, we were treated royally.
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