As a celebration of our 150 years in existence, this trip could not be beaten, it was fantastic. When the buses left Ardee on 24th June 2010, the 70 members of the travelling party could not have imagined what was in store for them.
The Brass Bohemia festival (http://www.ifbbohemia.cz/brass2010.html)
has been running now for about six years and is so well organised that everything ran like clockwork. The Brass Bohemia organisers, Jiri, Josef and Aleana, and our own organising committee of Jen, Dermot, Niall and Fiona left no stone unturned to make sure everything went to plan.
Our flight went perfectly and we were met at Prague airport by two English speaking guides, Dana and Dagmar, and buses to take us to the fabulous 4-star Hotel Panorama.
On Friday morning it was off to the city centre and set up for a march into the Staromeske Namesti (Old Town Square). The feeling of marching through the streets of this ancient city, led by our veteran Staff Major, Paddy Ward, and then into the Old Town Square was fantastic. A forty minute recital on the stage on the square, under the direction of our conductor of 29 years, Harry Kelly, followed and we drew the attention of the large numbers of tourists by opening up with the Emerson Lake and Palmer’s rock version of Fanfare for the Common Man. In the evening, a walking guided tour of the Old Town, followed by dinner, and then a boat trip on the Vltava River satisfied everyone. The accordionist on the boat trip allowed our chairman, Austin Nevin, to play some Irish reels and jigs and we had our own version of Riverdance when two of our younger members, Leeanne Gaynor and Clodagh McClean, showed our traditional Irish dancing to great effect. Also on the boat were members of a band from Norway, some of whom we can now call good friends.
On Saturday morning, it was off to the north east to the city of Nymburk for a parade and a recital. The parade included all visiting bands and groups of majorettes and we marched into the main square where we all formed up and played Skoda Lasky (better know as Roll Out The Barrel) which was conducted by Joseph Vejvoda, the son of the composer, Vladimar Vejvoda.
After an official presentation ceremony and lunch, we all headed down to the most beautiful park, the Pod Hradbami, with the river Elbe on one side and the city walls on the other, where each band gave a well-received 40 minute recital. The music, the sunshine, the food stalls, the people, (and the beer stall!) all conspired to make this afternoon one of the most memorable in the band’s long and illustrious history.
Back to Prague for a short rest and then bussed to the Don Giovanni Hotel for a Gala Dinner. Large screens showing slide shows of all of the pictures that can now be seen on the Brass Bohemia website were very well received. The Buffet dinner was excellent and the house band provided music to midnight.
Back at our own hotel, our chairman, Austin, took to the keyboard and with the help of some excellent guitarists, Betty and Anne, we sang our hearts out until 4am. So much hidden talent that we had not seen before!
Sunday was a free day and gave time for everyone to sight-see or watch the world cup or relax. An orderly retreat to the airport at 7.30 and a final arrival back in Ardee at 12.30am ended what for us was a fantastic weekend.