Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Band aid

Friday June 5th, marks the start of the 15th Annual Brass Band Festival of Amboise. Each year this international contest attracts lots of music lovers. Accidental tourists are surprised and enchanted when they find the town alive with music.

This year’s programme:

- Friday, June 5th at 9 p.m.: Opening gala "Celtic Concept Show".

- Saturday, June 6th: contest, open-air concerts, street animation in the town centre. Closing gala at 9 p.m.

- Sunday, June 7th: street animation in the town centre

Twice our annual arrival in Amboise coincided with the last day of the festival. The first time, we hadn’t a clue of what was going on. We were having a drink on the sidewalk terrace of the bar ‘Le Château’ at the foot of Amboise castle, when we heard the music. It got louder and louder, till finally we saw a Brass Band from the French ‘Landes’ region walking towards the stage in front of the spot where we were sitting. The band members were all dressed in white. A black beret and a bright green scarf completed their outfit. They made a cheerful and colourful sight walking up the street in a disorderly way. They stopped in front of the stage, where they played several lively tunes that made the gathering crowd feel like dancing.

In the meantime another brass band was mounting on the stage. In their black outfits the musicians of this group looked a lot more serious. And so was their music. It definitely was of a higher musical standard than the tunes played by the previous band, but it didn’t incite the audience to jump up and dance.

Both performances had attracted a lot people. As the crowd got bigger, we started to feel a little claustrophobic and so we left the terrace to go and look for a restaurant to have lunch.

Last year, we came prepared! We knew that the town would be full of musicians. Another colourful band, this time with red scarves an berets was performing amongst the stalls of the weekly market on the quays of the Loire River. We followed the group along the sidewalk cafés. Every now and then they stopped to play for the patrons sitting there in the sun sipping their drinks .

They even ventured into the courtyard of the local hospital where they entertained the patients that had come out on the balcony of their rooms to watch the spectacle. Musicians as well as patients were obviously having a good time. A trumpet and a trombone player went up to one of the balconies to deliver a duet. Judging by the smiles on these ladies faces, music can definitely have a healing effect.

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