REPORT BY Marilyn Hurdwell
Adur Concert Band has to be one of the most versatile, sociable and widely- travelled musical groups in the South. We have played in the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling (with our own Bagpiper, George Olivier) Jersey, Holland, Belgium, France and many other more local venues, as well as a wonderful cruise to France and Spain in 2016 to celebrate the Band’s 25th anniversary.
Malta is a beguiling Mediterranean island and has lots of historical and cultural connections with the British, including Wind Bands. There are wonderful ancient churches, cathedrals and museums to marvel at, and we were made to feel very welcome wherever we went. We stayed in a comfortable hotel at St Paul’s Bay and visited Rabat, Mdina, (known as the “Silent City”), Mosta (with its amazing Rotunda) and the incomparable capital Valletta. The Band also visited the pretty island of Gozo. Our knowledgeable Maltese guide, Chris Galea, looked after us splendidly. We were to have given a concert in the Rabat band hall, but sadly that was cancelled due to a bereavement. We were later taken to a local restaurant where we had a choice of fish or delicious rabbit stew!
Next day we visited the C16th walled city of Valletta, had a picnic and played in the town square near the Government buildings in glorious sunshine. In full regalia, George made an enormous impression on the crowd with his rendition of “Highland Cathedral”, accompanied by the band. Lots of people came to listen and their favourite pieces seemed to be Kalinka, Mary Poppins, Waltz no 2 (Shostakovich) and Sussex by the Sea. In full uniform we were conducted as ever by our stalwart MD Andrew Burchfield. A concert band includes brass, woodwind and percussion, which involved transporting the instruments (some heavy and bulky) and setting up – all good fun! Chris then gave us a guided and most informative tour of the city including a visit to the magnificent St John’s Co-Cathedral which houses the famed Caravaggio masterpiece “The Beheading of St John the Baptist”, the sole painting which bears the artist’s signature.
Our last engagement was a concert in the strangely-named village of Birżebbuġa in their band hall, after which we were treated to copious pasta Maltese-style, washed down with the native beer Cisk (pronounced Chisk)
All too soon it was time to return to Valletta Airport for our long flight home. Grateful thanks from us all are due to Andy’s fiancée Jo Stevens for her meticulous organisation and patience, and of course to Andy himself for his professionalism and good humour.