Day Three: Saint Quentin, France

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"Une Experience de la Vie!" The GLASSMEN remained in the city of Saint Quentin for the day to prepare for the big celebration of the local show bands’ 100th anniversary. The celebration will last three days, and includes the huge parade and tattoo (drum corps show) today, a second tattoo on Sunday, and a parade and concert in the town square on Monday.

Both the weather and the people have been very lovely and cooperative so far in St. Quentin. The city has a population of about 60,000 people, and is situated in northern france, just north-east of Paris. It found it’s beginnings almost two thousand years ago, when a Roman missionary named Quintinus came to the city. The enormous gothic St. Quentin Basilica, built between 1220-1477 now stands over his tomb. It is even said that Joan of Arc had passed through the city only a few months before her tragic death. Though much of the city was destroyed during World War I, some of the buildings avoided much of the damage, including the Basilica and the 15th century gothic style Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville).

The GLASSMEN had the opportunity to see much of the city today as they paraded through the streets announcing the start of the La Vaillant Show Band’s Centenary Celebration. Nine corps and bands in all came to the opening event – and an all day event at that! The groups lined up on the field in uniform at 2:00pm to begin the all- band parade through the streets. Five groups from Holland, two from France, and one from England joined with the GLASSMEN who led the parade to and from the Basilica at the city center.

The GLASSMEN march through the city of Saint Quentin, and pass by the 600+ year-old basilica.

The corps returned to the stadium, where they then joined together to rehearse for a special combined performance at the end of the evening. The GLASSMEN also presented a mini-clinic for some of the groups who were attending. Gina Cass, a member of the GLASSMEN hornline, enjoyed the chance to hang out with members from the international corps. "It gave me a chance to use the French I learned in school – I’m so glad we had the opportunity to do this together." When asked about the difference between the performing experiences here in Europe and those back at home, she replied, "Whoah! WOW! They are organized very differently. But this has been a really great experience." Then it was time to prepare for the "show of shows" – the corps’ first field performance in France!

The flyer for the La Vaillante Centennial Celebration events.

The uniqueness of the european event became more evident as a massive ceremony kicked off the evening at 8:00pm, including a parade of motorcycles around the field, and the introduction of the groups performing during the evening. There were many groups attending from all over Europe – the hometown La Vaillante Show Band; Showband Irene from Ede, Holland; Pasveerkorps from Leeuwarden, Holland (an EXCELLENT drum and flute corps); Jubal Drum & Bugle Corps from Dordrecht, Holland (who will visit the US later this summer); DVS from Katwijk, Holland; Advendo from Sneek, Holland (in brilliant black and white uniforms); Bagad de Lann Bihoué from Lann-Bihoué, France; and the Senators from Eastleigh, England. Music ranged from brass to flutes to bagpipes and back again.

Everyone was having a grand time performing together, and as many big celebrations do, the night grew longer as the schedule pulled further and further behind. As the GLASSMEN were to be the last to perform, their 11:05pm performance time soon turned into 12:05am. And although the sun does not set here in France until about 10:00pm – it was well into dark by the time the corps took the field. The only lights on the field were from behind, so the backlit corps was supplemented by two massive spotlights from the front. In an effort to help them see the drum major, and for the front ensemble to see their instruments, they left the spotlights on the front of the field, so as not to disturb the members speedily marching around the field. Despite the interesting conditions, the GLASSMEN performed an amazing show for the thousands of cheering fans and other corps members. The crowd was mesmerized by the show – and there was hardly a sound heard as the corps moved into the "deaf effect" in the final movement of the show. But the audience erupted into applause at the sound of the unison rifle catch and first note of "Ode to Joy."

The GLASSMEN perform for the crowd in St. Quentin, with the old basilica in the background.

When all the groups took the field for retreat, and a combined performance of GLASSMEN’s standard "Time to Say Goodbye" – it was hard to tell if we were at the World Cup or World Championships! The fans were so enthusiastic – clapping and chanting and singing – stomping their feet and yelling in appreciation of all that these groups had accomplished during the day. As the corps trooped the stands in regular fashion, the crowd burst into "Happy Birthday" in French for La Vaillante Show Band’s 100th Anniversary. A great time was had by all! C’est Magnifique!

The corps finally returned to the housing site around 2:00am – and will turn around and leave at 8:30am for Calais, France, for a parade in the afternoon, returning to Saint Quentin just in time to perform their field show for the second tattoo here this weekend. Stay tuned for more pictures and information tomorrow right here on!

Posted by on Sunday, June 25th, 2006. Filed under DCI World.