Bry Sur Marne Feedback

Published on 08 October 2012

Music Tour to Bry-sur-Marne 2012

Diary and Reflections upon the trip to Bry-Sur-Marne, 14-16 September 2012

Diary and Reflections upon the trip to Bry-Sur-Marne, 14-16 September 2012

The town of Bry-sur-marne was very nice and there was a strong community spirit and a positive atmosphere. The architecture of the houses and other buildings is very different from those in Sawbridgeworth. On arrival we all met at the town hall to meet our families and then on Saturday afternoon when we arrived back from Versailles we saw an exhibition at the town hall which told us about the history of Bry-sur-marne. The town is of close proximity to Paris so some of us were lucky enough to be taken by our French families to see the Eiffel Tower. I was able to see the light show at the Eiffel tower at night and we also saw lots of other famous French landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre whilst driving through Paris.    
Lauren Campbell Year 11

On Saturday morning we went to Versailles. Firstly we went through a tour of the palace of Versailles which was really interesting- I especially liked the idea of all the rooms representing different planets and each room centering around Apollo the sun god. After the palace we went around the gardens,  impersonating statues, watching the extremely large catfish and taking lots of photos before heading into the restaurant 'La Flottille' for a traditional french lunch ending a great day of a great trip with our new french friends. 
Kim Snooks 11N

On Saturday evening the citizens of both towns dined at a local three-star restaurant. This formed a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with new people from both countries, as well as to reconnect with old friends from last time. After the gift-giving ceremony and the three course meal the evening's entertainment commenced, starting with a wonderful Jazz piano set from alumnus Chris Neill. This was followed by a burlesque Cabaret performer, whose brilliant entertainment culminated in a rendition of "Oh Happy Days" with a group sing-along; although after several glasses of complimentary wine it sounded closer to the Wail of Two Cities. The highlight was definitely the dancing; the Leventhorpe dancing troupe were carving out moves like a cavalry of carpenters. Yee haw.        
Ben Redwood Leaver 2012

The Language Barrier
One of the reasons I went to Bry was to improve my French, so I was not very happy when we arrived in Calais and went to a typical French restaurant. I was really looking forward to interacting with my first French person on the trip which so happened to be the very French-looking waiter who came out to greet us with a very British “Good afternoon, here are the menus.” I didn’t know I could understand French people so well! However, when we arrived at the town hall in Bry, I realised that things wouldn’t be so simple. At first, I found it very difficult to converse with my family because they could speak a bit of simple English but they couldn’t really understand what I was saying and it took a joint effort from all four of them to get out what they wanted to say. A lot of the interactions were made by non verbal communication and google translate, which turned out to be completely rubbish. As the weekend went on though, we all became a lot more confident and coherent with each other, which resulted in much better understanding with both the French and the English speaking and a fantastic time away. Here’s to the next trip!  
Rebecca Cherry (Y11)

Reflections upon the trip
I think that the weekend that we spent in Bry-Sur-Marne was amazing for all of us. We met friends both old and new, we took a trip to the former Royal Palace of Versailles, we had a great party, even if it did feature Ben and Chris dancing. We took part in a concert to mark forty years of union between their town and ours. We heard amazing music from Les Violins de Bry and the Bry Harmonie Orchestra. I think I can speak for everyone, performers and organisers alike when I say that we look forward to March and next September. 
David Evans Y10

One of the main things I noticed about Bry-Sur-Marne, was the sense of community. Not only was this present throughout the streets of the town, when my host family were greeting people they knew everywhere we looked, but also between the people there and the people from Sawbridgeworth. Despite the language barrier, I didn’t feel like an outsider, and by the end of the weekend I think I could have walked confidently from where I was staying to our regular place of meeting. The relationship between the two towns really is quite special, because people seemed to instantly be able to pick up a conversation they left off two years ago, regardless of the fact that lots of people can barely understand each other. Everyone I met was incredibly polite, and happy to attempt to show/tell me where/what anything was. I can safely say that I have made a few new friends out of the trip too, and I really can’t wait until the next time we meet, because it really is a special friendship that I, and all of the people in the Town Twinning Society, will treasure for a long time.       
Lizzie Howard (Year 11 Leaver 2012)

The formal twinning anniversary ceremony was on the Sunday morning at Mairie.  I was pleased to be welcomed by the sound of the Bry Harmonie Orchestra – with their honorary member; Mr Beardsworth on tenor horn. The procession of wind and brass musicians led the groups to the laying of the celebratory wreaths, to the sound of a trumpet call and our national anthems. It was a poignant moment in a weekend that had provided so much fun and friendship. To mark the 40th anniversary of our twinning, a lime tree, was planted. This was followed with a fantastic array of musical performance by the three main ensembles associated with the twin towns:

Les Violons de Bry: The string group had approximately 20 members aged between c15-28.This group represented a larger strong school which meets every weekend, with students as young as 4 or 5 years old. The members do not have to leave once they reach a certain age, and so many stay on to help build the ensemble and teach the young players. Parents provide voluntary support and the ensemble run a 2 week summer school to really get stuck into some repertoire. The parents of the family I stayed with could not speak highly enough of the string ensemble. Clearly I was impressed with the organisation and playing of Les Violons de Bry, and I was thrilled that they were happy for me to sit in and play violin during the performance. However, (as anyone who was there will confirm), the icing on the cake for me was when they all jumped up from their seats at the end and started playing folk tunes that they had learned by ear. I could barely contain myself!

The cherry on the icing was the Leventhorpe Wind Ensemble. We performed a mixed programme to the audience of 70-80 people, including some energetic film music, Scott Joplin’s ever popular Entertainer, and the totally topical ‘Chariots of Fire’ – presumably just in case anyone had forgotten how brilliant the Olympics were! After such a busy weekend, I was very impressed that the students came together so well as a musical ensemble. There was no time to rehearse beforehand, but everyone got their ‘focus’ hats on, created the music, and performed really well. Well done everyone!! The dusting on the cherry was the final performance by the Bry Harmonie Orchestra. They do standing still, they do marching, they do national anthems, and then, they do hilarious (and absolutely brilliant) choreographed arrangements of pop songs. I can’t really explain in words– you’d have to see/hear  them!

Music is a fantastic binding agent, so, for twinning associations to bring music into the heart of their collaborative events allows for people to come together in a special way. We have discussed exciting combined repertoire for the visit to us by the Violons next year, and my twinning family and I already have some Beethoven duets planned – as you do!  This trip was rewarding for many reasons, and I’m very excited about the musical possibilities of our relationship with Bry Sur Marne.
Mrs Oliver Head of Music

Note from the Editor: Chris Neill also wrote a lengthy and illuminating reflection upon the trip, but the organiser of this article considered it too post-modern an interpretation of the given brief for full publication. If you are a fan of Chris’ work, and are keen to receive a copy, please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Oliver, who will happily send it to you.

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