Tuesday April 23rd
An early breakfast in our Albert hostel led us to the Australian National Memorial for a full day of rehearsals with the army band. These rigorous sessions are run to a tight schedule. Song times are checked and rechecked, sound levels are set and official protocols are rehearsed repeatedly! We were provided lunch by the kind kitchen staff on site. We stayed attentive the entire day to ensure we were remembering the order of events for Anzac Day. Seeing how the service is put together is an important part of the process. Some choristers even practiced their wreath-laying skills on behalf of the VIP attendees.
As the afternoon rehearsals ended, Blokes and BBV split into two busses and headed to Vignacourt and Allonville, respectively. Historically, Australians would venture to these two small towns in an effort to find some relief from the horrors they were facing on the front line in the Somme.
In Allonville, we attended an event presided by the Mayor; a special inauguration for the Australians buried there. Many plaques provided information on the towns’ significant war history. The choir then sang in a Commemorative Service for the townsfolk.
BBV proceeded to perform for a very appreciative audience in an evening concert in the local cathedral – in fact the majority of the town turned up for the event! Standing ovations and an encore were heartily received. The residents of Allonville are always incredibly welcoming to BBV choristers and AP’s, and graciously treated us to a wonderful dinner spread.
Blokes meanwhile travelled to Vignacourt, another town in the Somme with significant WWI involvement, where soldiers would come to find respite from the central battlefields. The Blokes commenced their experience by meeting some young primary school students in the local church to sing and learn together ready for the evenings concert.
We then walked a few hundred metres to a Photograph museum – a building in which 4,000 photographic plates had been discovered in 2011, consisting of photos of soldiers from various nations all taken in WWI. We were shown around this amazing exhibit, spotting some Australians amongst the many photos. After a short break for some group shots of our own, we returned to the cathedral ready to perform!
Once again, a hearty reception from Vignacourt as the Blokes sang a range of repertoire, from “Invictus” to “Get Me To The Church On Time.” Similarly to BBV in Allonville, some community members and the organisation which has been hosting us for the past five years in this region of France, put on a lovely dinner spread of meats, cheese and salads. We graciously ate after another a big day!
Finally, all busses returned to the Albert hostel where we all rested and went to bed.
We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!
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