Students Jamal Martins and Catrin Pilkington write:
Following on from previous highly successful trips to Barcelona and Paris, a party of assorted Loreto instrumentalists and singers ended the academic year in July by travelling across the channel to Belgium for a short tour, taking in a trio of magnificent cities: Bruges, Ghent and the capital, Brussels. Starting off in Bruges the group had the opportunity to explore this wonderful city by boat on a canal cruise before heading for the first performance of the tour, which took place in the beautiful Basilica of the Holy Blood, a perfect setting for a range of musical offerings, including the chamber choir, soloists and smaller group ensembles. Next was a very different location and experience: busking in a public square in the city centre, where a large crowd of appreciative locals and tourists chipped in 25 euros, which was spent on food (of course!)
The group then travelled on to the fascinating medieval city of Ghent, clambering to the top of Gravensteen, the castle that dominates the city skyline, and performing at the youth hostel, a concert that was livestreamed, enabling friends and families back home to watch. The next day saw our students in Brussels, visiting the museum of musical instruments and, it being Belgium, Planete Chocolat, where they had the opportunity to make praline and truffles, leaving with stomachs and bags full of delicious Belgian chocolate. The final performance of the trip took place at a youth music and arts festival at a local university.
The whole enterprise was a terrific success, with just the right balance being struck between serious music making and other activities, such as sightseeing, shopping and a visit to a bowling alley. The accommodation was excellent and a splendid atmosphere was engendered on the coach, as they travelled from Manchester down to the south east and across to the continent. All in all, a fantastic way to end the academic year and to start the summer holiday.