Czech Republic

21st October 1988 - 29th October 1988

The Manx Youth Band returned recently from a successful tour of the Czech Republic. They were there for a full week, playing a total of five concerts.

Graham Bates, of Douglas, who plays baritone in the band, has described the experience in a diary he penned for Mann Alive!.

Participants in Prague's world-renowned festival of hats
The Pride of Man: The Band enjoys an afternoon off, sightseeing in Prague.

After the long journey over there, the 30 members were let loose on the town, in Graham's words, 'to sample the health giving waters of the town's many springs'. This proved excellent preparation for their first concert, in the Spa Colonnade Concert Hall, 'for a small but attentive audience'.

Graham writes: 'After a varied program the band received a standing ovation and was required to play a second encore before heading back to the hotel'. But the band's healthy first day in eastern Europe was no indication of its second. It toured the brewery town of Plzen, 58 miles south west of Prague. Graham reveals that the band was given 'a most informative tour' of the brewery, and were allowed to sample the unfiltered beer. Following this, Graham says that trombone player David Asbridge then played the whole of their next concert without any shoes on - he had forgotten them!

'The town has a large German population, so we were a bit dubious about playing the theme tune to the film The Great Escape, but as with all our pieces it was well received,' Graham writes.

The next day's concert in Prague's Castle Gardens, was played to 300 people, among them a small Manx contingent, who happened to be holidaying there. On the Thursday, after exploring the mediaeval town of Ceske Budejovice, south of Prague, the band played in Trebon Square, 'where many people enjoyed the music from the advantage of their hotel balconies or from road side cafes,' writes Graham. He continues: 'This made for the best atmosphere of all our concerts and the crowd was very lively and appreciative. They especially enjoyed Backdraft and The Best of Abba.

'At the end it was back to our hotel to say our farewells to the many friends we had made on our short trip,' Graham writes. 'We are especially grateful to our guide and trouble-shooter Katka, who smoothed our way for the whole week and was a major part in the success of the tour'.

Graham thanks all of the people who made the tour possible, 'especially Jonathan Kneale for the organisation, Mark Lewin and supporters' committee for the fundraising, and of course the man who makes all of our music possible, Ian Clague'.

Isle of Man Examiner
Tuesday, August 18, 1998