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Dinant Š WBT-AnibalTrejo

Music Tours to Wallonia Southern Belgium Š Richard Parsons

An Introduction to OneStage

There is so much to offer in terms of: z A great range of accommodations for youths and adults

OneStage Specialist Concert Tours delivers tailor-made concert tours across the world for every kind of amateur musical ensemble across all age ranges and abilities. We have a dedicated team of musicians and travel professionals who are experienced in securing venues and working hard to bring in an audience for each and every concert that makes up a tour.

z Close proximity to the UK z Musical events open to ensembles z Culinary delights (beer, chocolate, patisserie and cheese) z Warm hospitality and support from local tourist offices z A choice of affordable and interesting attractions and musical connections

“OneStage have, as usual, outdone themselves. Our Chamber Choir tour to Belgium was everything that we had hoped that it would be, and more. The venues were all truly outstanding, with excellent support from OneStage, and ground staff all along. I can’t recommend OneStage highly enough – thank you all!” Nicola Adkinson Deputy Director of Music, Head of Academic Music at LES Music School

As musicians ourselves, we have all been immeasurably enriched by our love of music and the memories gained from tours we went on as teenagers, students and (still!) as adults. We aim to inspire every client, staff member and student who travels with us in the same way with fulfilling tour memories, which will stay with them for a very long time. We would like to share with you some of the highlights of visiting Wallonia and the positive feedback we receive from our clients returning from tours to Southern Belgium.

Why visit Wallonia? Land of the Walloons Despite being one of the smallest nations in Europe, Belgium punches well above its weight. Great events have happened here. z Napoleon met his Waterloo z Belgium formed part of the Western Front in two World Wars

Tournai © JanDHondt


z Where else did famous characters like TinTin, Magritte, Jean-Claude van Damme and Inspector Maigret come from?

Only 1 hour 30 from the French port of Calais, the Walloon region is easily accessible from the UK.

z Home of inventor Adolphe Sax

The only question to ask now, is just where should you stay?

Wallonia is the lesser-known, French-speaking half – and it’s where the true beauties of this mixed-up land can be found. Discover an unspoilt collection of villages, towns and cities, each with their own quirks and characteristics, from picturesque, quaint Durbuy to the more industrial cityscape of Liege.

There is accommodation to suite all budgets, from comfortable youth hostels to 4* hotels. A range of services is on offer, from instrument storage facilities, rehearsal space, on-site coach and van parking, good food, and sometimes even the odd disco room and swimming pool.



There is no shortage of choir venues in Wallonia to sing and OneStage has organised many successful concerts with charities and local associations with the support of the local tourist offices. Some venues, like the St Nicolas Church in La Roche en Ardennes; Dinant Collegiale and Brussels Cathedral are fairly relaxed about repertoire and will consider a more varied, secular programme. Choirs with predominantly sacred repertoire (with or without organ accompaniment) have plenty of opportunities including churches in Spa, Mons, St-Hubert and Charleroi.

In summertime, town squares and gardens morph into ideal venues for bands to play in, with audiences gathering for festivals, picnics or a relaxing day in the park. Our bands have played all around the lovely town of La Roche en Ardennes, on the Grand Place stage in Tournai, as part of Quai Nouvelle Festival in Namur, Dinant Collegiale and in Verviers, as well as neighbouring bandstands and spas in Germany and Luxembourg.

Why not sing with a local choir on tour? If you are travelling to Belgium from September to June, then a cultural soirée with another choir could forge new friendships and a funfilled evening of song.

© Piers Smith-Cresswell

During the rest of the year, we source indoor venues and conjure up ways of bringing in an enthusiastic audience to watch our bands perform. We approach schools, Cultural Associations, local communities and charities to support these events.

© Piers Smith-Cresswell

Leicester Bach Choir - June 2017 (Adult choir) “In June 2017 members of the choir visited the Belgian Ardennes, where we enjoyed hot weather, sightseeing and two concert performances. We stayed in La Roche-en-Ardenne and visited Durbuy and Dinant.

Our first concert was at Church Saint Nicolas in La Roche-en-Ardenne. The audience was treated to a programme of English music. The acoustic was ideal for unaccompanied singing. Next day we visited Dinant, the birth place of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the Saxophone. A tour of the Citadel was followed by a concert in Dinant Collégiale. A much larger church with a magnificent organ was the background for another exciting concert, where the audience was introduced to English Cathedral music. A memory for many of us was the awestruck expression on the faces of two young girls as we sang Parry’s I was Glad, and Handel’s Zadok the Priest. A moment they will remember.”

© Richard Parsons

Hendon Music Service Concert Band undertook their first ever tour with OneStage to Liege in October 2016 and visited the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Brussels, a cultural exchange with a school and performed a concert at La Boverie Art Museum auditorium in Liege. 3

Orchestras Manouevering instrumental groups around and finding space for 40-90 players is quite a task in any destination. Wallonia offers some great spaces for large instrumental groups to play in and OneStage was tested to its limits in 2016 when a youth group of 170 performers, comprised of six ensembles (the largest was the band of 90) toured to Wallonia in springtime. It’s the first time in almost 20 years that we had to hire a Conservatoire. The Collegiale in Dinant is one of our favourite venues for orchestras because there is so much space to play in and it is a great town to spend the day in. We have some other contacts in “special venues” around this area who invite just one or two groups per year to participate in their summer concert series. These events often raise funds for charities or prevent the buildings from being torn down. It’s a win-win situation for you, for us and the town.

Orchestra and Manchester University Symphony Orchestra, to this region amongst many others. This year, Salisbury Area Young Musicians stayed in Liege in July 2017 and played in a town hall outside Brussels as part of the National Day celebrations.

“We had a really good tour. The tour manager was fantastic, sorting everything out for us. The drivers were the best we have had on a tour, very professional and personable. The audiences were great at Wavre and Verviers, lots of people milling about in La Roche. All really enjoyed the Theme Park, Water Park, Toboggan Run and actually the caves (Maastricht) were a bit of a hit as well.” Richard Parsons, Salisbury Area Young Musicians

We have been delighted to arrange performances for orchestras such as Kings College London Symphony Orchestra, West London Sinfonia, Essex Young People’s

Some of the places we would recommend for your groups to stay and perform in

Tournai, Wallonia’s ‘English’ Outpost (approx. 2h from The Channel) Tournai is the oldest town in Wallonia and its heritage goes back thousands of years. For five years in the early 16th century, this border town belonged to England. It was captured from the French (who controlled the region at the time) after a siege in September 1513. Ten days later the young king Henry VIII rode into town to view his latest acquisition. What to explore: z  UNESCO heritage site ‘The Beffroi’ - Belgium’s oldest belfry is 72m high with a narrow 257step spiral staircase. z  UNESCO heritage site Cathedral Notre-Dame z  The Museum of Fine Arts housing works by Brueghel, Rubens, Manet, Seurat and Van Gogh z  The Pont des Trous (Peephole Bridge)

Musical Connections & Local Events: z  During the Renaissance and Baroque periods Tournai was celebrated for its child soloists, who sang in choirs across Europe. z  The town still celebrates 14th July (French National Day) and 21st July (Belgian National Day) with its Garden Party. Why not join in? z The annual Jazz Festival takes place in February z Tournai in Music Festival runs every June © Richard Parsons


© Anne-Lise Crickboom

Namur, The Sweet Scent of the South (approx. 3h from The Channel)

The Doudou© Visitmons-GregoryMathelot

Mons, The Great Survivor (approx. 3h from The Channel) 30 minutes further east is the university town of Mons: a small town with a big history that was given a new lease of life when it became a European Capital of Culture in 2015. Mon’s connection to WW1 is strong and it was occupied by British and German troops in August 1914. Mons also stages an extraordinary event every summer that mixes religious history with make-believe, featuring another spectacular parade - and another excuse for everyone to party. The weekend’s events are known as ‘Doudou’. The big day is Trinity Sunday (27 May 2018) when a casket containing the relics of the town’s patron saint is borne on a gilded horse-drawn carriage through the streets. Then, in the main square, a re-enactment takes place of St George’s tussle with the dragon. What to explore:

Namur is situated at the confluence between the Meuse and the Sambre rivers. Explore the Citadel (a former command centre in the Middle Ages). Stroll around the lively town where there are plenty of shops and cafes and visit the oldest café in town ‘Ratin Tot’ which is more than 400 years old. The statue of the famous snail can be found in Place d’Armes (the unofficial symbol of the city) and next to it you will find the two figures invented by Jean Legrand, which represents the tranquil philosophy of the people here. What to visit: z The Citadel – take the tourist train on a visit through the town, followed by a guided tour of the underground passages z Terra Nova Visitor’s Centre - discover 2000 years of European urban and military history z Guy Delforge Perfumery – find out how perfumes are blended Musical connection: z T  he church of Saint-Loup - baroque church inspired on the Gesu church in Rome and one of the finest baroque art church left in Belgium z Quai Nouvelle Festival in summer

z UNESCO listed 17th-century Baroque Belfry offering sweeping city views z St Symphorien Cemetery (CWGC) - where German and British soldiers are resting together z The Mons Memorial Museum z Van Gogh House Museum – where the artist resided during his year in Mons z The imposing Saint Waudru Collegiate Church Musical connections & Local Events: z  Home of the Conservatoire Royal de Mons z Beatles Day – annual festival in Mons z  Why not join in the special commemoration which will be held in Mons in November 2018? Tournai Grand Place ©

Namur River Meuse and Citadel © WBT-K Van Lidth


Dinant, Rivers, War and Music (approx. 4h from The Channel) About 20 miles south of Namur, is Dinant, the birthplace of Adolphe Sax who patented the saxophone and other new-fangled instruments in the 1840s, The town does him proud. The house where Sax was born has been converted into a small museum celebrating his life and work, with a sax shaped floor and a pleasing sculpture of the inventor sprawled across a bench on the street outside. Dinant has a majestic setting between craggy cliffs and the river Meuse. But life hasn’t always run so smoothly in Dinant. After coming to prominence in the 14th century as a metal-working centre, it was sacked several times, totally destroyed once, and badly damaged in both World Wars. What to explore: z Adolphe Sax Museum z Experience rail-biking z The Citadelle by 408 steps or cable car, for panoramic valley views z Boat trip on the river Meuse z Maison Leffe z Fabulous caves of Han Sur Lesse Musical connections & Local Events: z Adolphe sax, inventor of the saxophone (and saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba) was born in 1814 z S  axophone Sundays – hear saxophone ensembles play in Dinant during the summer months z The Church of our Lady (Collegiale Dinant) hosts regular concerts

La Roche-en-Ardenne © Dominik Ketz

La Roche-en-Ardennes, Pretty Tank-tastic (approx. 4h from The Channel) Straddling the river Ourthe and overlooked by a ruined castle, La Roche is one of the Ardennes’ most popular tourist destinations for us. Two bridges cross the river to link the two halves of the town, which offer lovely wooded riverside walks. The Medieval castle overlooking the town dates back to the 9th century. Built on a rocky escarpment, there are enough arrow-slits, dungeons and towers still intact to transport visitors back to mediaeval times. The Battle of the Ardennes (Bulge) Museum ensures that Britain’s participation in the battle will never be overlooked. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery’s men were an integral part of the Allied counter-attack, liberating La Roche and other villages along the River Ourthe in early January 1945. What to explore in La Roche en Ardennes:

Dinant © WBT-JP Remy

z The Battle of the Ardennes Museum z A tour of the 9th Century castle z Take a photo by the tanks which are scattered around the town Musical Connections & Local Events: z Concerts are held in the Church of St Nicholas z Summertime concerts around the town

Statue of Adolphe Sax © WBT-AlessandraPetrosino


Durbuy, Step into a Fairy Tale

Liège, an Industrious City

(approx. 4h from The Channel)

(approx. 4h from The Channel)

Known as ‘the smallest town in the world’, Durbuy is also one of the prettiest towns in Wallonia.

Liege is a historic city with an industrial background, situated on the river Meuse.. The Industrial Revolution in Belgium began in the 18th century. In 1720, the first steam engine, based on the design of British inventor Thomas Newcomen, began to be used in the coal mines. Liege’s rich coal deposits and steel factories helped Belgium to form the basis of the region’s increasing economic power. Today, although coal mining has died out, Liege is the last city of Wallonia that still maintains a functioning steel industry.

Tucked away in a narrow ravine, Durbuy is hidden from view to all but the birds wheeling above the wooded hills until you actually get there, but its beauty is certainly no secret and it’s become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Wallonia. With good reason, arriving in Durbuy is like stepping into a medieval fairy tale, with its narrow cobbled lanes and courtyards flanked by immaculate stone houses, overlooked by an ancient, turreted castle. The ravine is the work of the river Ourthe, which completes the idyllic tableau as it encircles the town on its journey through the valleys.

Liege has a lot of offer its visitors including a vibrant nightlife, plenty of restaurants and bustling shopping streets. Liege is closely associated with prolific writer Georges Simenon – born here - who wrote the Maigret novels.

What to visit in Durbuy: z The Topiary park (30,000 square feet covered in more than 250 sculpted box trees in the shape of everything from elephants to mermaids)

What to visit in Liege: z Prince-Bishops’ Palace Durbuy © Piers Smith-Cresswell

z Views from the Belvedere, on the cliffs above Durbuy

z Museum of Walloon Life & Boverie Museum (New Fine Arts Museum) z Crystal Works of Val Saint Lambert, the factory of the world-famous glass-makers

z Book a gastronomic tasting tour and sample local delicacies whilst exploring the town

z Sunday flea market all along the left bank on the Quai de la Batte Musical connections: z César Franck was born in Liege in 1822 z Liège is home to the Royal Opera of Wallonia and the Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra z S  t. Paul’s Cathedral, La Boverie and the Cité Miroir offer cultural and musical experiences all year round

Durbuy © WBT-JP Remy

Musical connections & Local Events z Participate in Music Day (every June) z P  articipate in Durbuy’s National Day celebrations on 21st July z P  erform at the special beer, bread & cheeses weekend in September

Liege © WBT-JP Remy


Sonia & Becky: 020 8568 5486 or 4586 Julian: 0121 240 2972

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Music tours to Wallonia  
Music tours to Wallonia  

Why visit Wallonia? Land of the Walloons Despite being one of the smallest nations in Europe, Belgium punches well above its weight. Great e...