Last month 38 University of Plymouth students from two of our student societies, Big Band and Student Choir, travelled to Belgium to perform in the picturesque city of Bruges.
"It's a small, but also picturesque place, with a number of attractions ranging from a delicious chocolate museum to the far more sinister sounding torture museum! The journey there and back was done by coach via the Eurotunnel beneath the English channel, each way taking around 11 hours. We travelled to Bruges at night, resulting in the tragic ban of singing for the sake of the sleepyheads..."
"Our first performance was in a bandstand in the centre of Ostend (a city approximately an hour away from Bruges). We attracted a large audience, some of which broke out into dance in the middle of our performances! Whilst in Ostend we also made use of the brilliant weather by heading down to the local beach. A striking feature of the beach was it's sheer length, as well as the enormous and detailed sand castles! We were also meant to perform the very next day in the city of De Haan, but it was sadly cancelled due to heavy rain. However, we made up for it back in Bruges by busking in the evening when the weather was less foul!"
"Travelling to a new country was a fascinating experience, which was further elevated by being able to perform there too. It was exciting for the two societies to collaborate together, both from a musical and social perspective."
"Other highlights on tour include a visit to the Menin gate in Ypres (a WW1 memorial to soldiers who didn't receive a tombstone), as well as the numerous games of Irish snap, jungle speed, and many others played in the hostel. It should also be made clear that many Belgian waffles were eaten over the course of the trip!"
The two societies collaborated to organise the trip together to celebrate all the achievements of the two societies over the course of this year. The first collaboration between the two societies was at the Society Showcase event in November in which all musical societies came together and put on a cabaret style evening of music, singing and entertainment. They worked together on another two events before heading off on their Belgian tour.
"The last collaboration before tour was a performance of all our songs for tour in the SU. It gave us a chance to put on an entertaining concert whilst providing a sort of dress rehearsal for tour, effectively killing two birds with one stone!"
Caitlin McAndry (awarded Half Colours at the Students' Union Awards) and Rachel Horrell (awarded Non-Core Role of the Year Award as part of Celebrating Societies) were the musical directors for Choir and Big Band respectively, they conducted and managed all the rehearsals for the tour and brought the two societies together.
"Caitlin, as a member of both Choir and Big band, was instrumental (pun intended) in bringing our two societies together and fostering the relationship that would eventually result in this brilliant tour!"
Special thanks must also go to Rob Moore (Chair of Big Band) and Ali Addley who handled the technical aspects of the tour.
Both societies perform planned seasonal concerts throughout the year (for example they hold an annual Christmas Concert) as well as offering their services to other societies (for entertainment at their events) and for events outside the University. Last year Student Choir staged a flash mob at the Army Citadel's Christmas party! The societies also provide social opportunities, in which members can interact with like-minded people in a variety of social contexts, whether it's simply at rehearsals or at a planned social. But most importantly, they have fun making music!
So, what next?
"Overall our experience on tour has been universally positive, and therefore depicts a bright future up ahead for further collaboration between Choir and Big Band. We will potentially be performing together again during fresher's week next September, in order to demonstrate the incredible experience of joining our societies to new students!"
Keep an eye out for Big Band and Student Choir throughout Freshers' Week 2019, find out more about them here:
Big Band - UPSU / Facebook Winners of the Outstanding Contribution to UPSU Award at the Students' Union Awards 2019
Student Choir - UPSU / Facebook
Are you considering joining a society in the next academic year? We asked current members of Big Band and Student Choir what they feel are the biggest advantages of being in a society and how to get over that initial fear
Why did you join a society when you started University?
- "Since I like singing, I thought it a good way to find friends."
- "I really relish the feeling of playing as part of a band, so I found a society that satisfied it."
Was there anything that worried you about joining a society when you first started University?
- "My main fear was that I could have done something stupid simply though being new to the society. However, I quickly lost those fears after I found everyone was so endearing and sympathetic."
- "I initially had worries about whether I was actually picking the right society for myself, but I then later realised that even if it was outside my comfort zone, a new experience was still good."
What's the best thing about being in the society you're in?
- "Definitely all the fresh bants!"
- "In a sense, it's a way to unwind and have fun during the stresses of University life."
View a full list of our 110+ societies here.