Diatonic have enjoyed five concert tours abroad, all in Europe, the last four accompanied (and organized) by Oriana, the group directed since the 1990s by David Moss, the founder of Diatonic.
Tour 1 - June 2002 to Normandy [Diatonic]
We were based in a hotel in Rouen, from which we travelled to three other towns, one per day, giving concerts in all three.
We also toured the sights of Rouen, including the great cathedral.
The music Bernard chose was a variety of short works by Purcell, Parry, Poulenc and Bruckner, as well as some English madrigals. The longest work was a Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd.
The first visit was to Écouis about 25km SE of Rouen. We sang for mass(??) in La Collégiale Notre-Dame d'Écouis.
At the end, word went round that the audience wished to hear us sing ‘God save the Queen’ – we duly obliged, though we struggled with the words of the second verse! All the audience stood up – except two, and we found out afterwards that they were Australian!
Afterwards, the priest unexpectedly, most kindly, and enthusiastically gave us a splendid lunch in the open air – the weather was perfect!
The second visit was to St.Aubin-sur-mer on the channel coast about 110km west of Rouen, directly north of Caen.
The town is at the east end of what was Juno Beach at which Canadian forces landed on D-day. We had the honour of singing in the main church for a ceremony celebrating this momentous event (??), and at a reception afterwards encountered at least one man who had taken part in the landings.(??)
The third visit was to Honfleur, at the mouth of the river Seine opposite Le Havre, about 60km west of Rouen. Here, we gave a concert in St Catherine’s Church, famed for having 2 parallel naves modelled on the hull of an upside-down ship. Afterwards, we had a meal in the delightful Honfleur harbour, before journeying back to Rouen for the last time. (PHOTOS)
Tour 2 February 2008 to Seville, Cordoba & Granada
We spent the morning of the first day sight-seeing in Seville, particularly the great and spectacular cathedral and the Alcázar, the splendid Royal Palace originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings.
In the afternoon, we gave a concert in Circulo Mercantil (info please!).
Next day, we sang for High Mass in the truly fabulous Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) in the cathedral, a privilege granted to few.
After a day of sightseeing, we journeyed to Cordoba in order to experience the, with its amazing many-arched ‘Mesquita’ with a gothic cathedral fitted somehow into the middle (info & comments please!).
On the same day we reached Granada and its famous Alhambra Palace, which we visited next day. It is a beautiful and elegant collection of buildings, though somewhat strange due to its total absence of pictures and statues of people. (comments!)
In the evening, we gave a concert in the wondrous and most hospitable Basilica de la Senora de las Angustinas.
On the last day, a party of us drove up Sierra de Huetor mountain in quest of wildlife (particularly birds) – a wonderful day out. (What did other people do??)
In the final evening, we went to a Flamenco concert.
An unforgettable holiday – for all the right reasons!
Tour 3 - 31st May 2010 to Salamanca, Avila, Toledo and Alcalá
Day 1 – sightseeing in Salamanca. Salamanca has many fine buildings, mostly churches. The best example is Catedral Vieja, which rises high above the town and can be seen for miles around. Its fine ornate exterior carvings appear strange and unusual to those used to French and English Gothic, but its Gothic interior is conventional and unadventurous compared to the latter.
We gave our first, well-attended, concert in the church of San Benito.
Next day, some of us took the train to Madrid and visited the famous Prado art gallery, which boasts Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, and the finest of the paintings of Velázquez including the famous ‘Las Meninas’.
Next day, four of us hired a car and journeyed up mount La Peña de Francia in quest of birds, a most enjoyable and fruitful excursion. On the way back, we visited the charming small town of La Alberca. (What did other people do??)
Next day (June 3rd) we journeyed to the charming walled town of Avila. After a walk around the tops of walls, we gave a concert in the church of Santo Thomas, after which we journeyed on to Toledo.
Next day we sampled the splendid sights of Toledo.
We then proceeded to Alcalá, and gave a concert in the Catedral Magestral in the evening.
We spent the last day sightseeing in Toledo, and finally sang at a service in the monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes.
All-in-all, this was a wonderful tour, with never a dull moment!
Tour 4 - 10th April 2012 to Rouen
We spent the first day visiting Caen Castle, followed by the famous Bayeux Tapestry, and finally on to Rouen.
Next day we gave our first concert in Beaumont le Roger (info please!), and then on to Giverney, on the Seine, to view the marvellous Claude Monet gardens.
On the third day, we enjoyed a tour of the Benedictine distillery in Fécamp (a most attractive small town on the north coast), then gave a concert in the Église St-Étienne (St. Stephen), also in Fécamp.
Next day, we enjoyed a guided tour of Rouen, in particular its splendid and historic high-Gothic Cathedral (info please!), followed by the art gallery.
On the morning of the final day, we were most privileged to sing at morning mass in the cathedral itself, standing in a semi-circle in front of the altar (comments please!). The occasion was directed by a young man, not in formal dress, who strode confidently between us and congregation, conducting and singing solo.
We journeyed home in the afternoon, celebrating another splendid tour!
Tour 5 - June 2014 to Rhineland (based at Koblenz)
June 12th The tour began with a visit to the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, where we were greatly privileged to sing for a well-attended service.
We then proceeded to Bonn in order to visit the house where Beethoven was born. This is full of many fascinating relics, but alas no original document containing the great man’s handwriting.
13th In the morning, we visited Kloster Ehrenstein, a beautiful holy ‘retreat’. (contributions please!)
The on to Ashbach to view the Steam Museum, and give a concert which was highly praised in the local newspaper.
14th We went on a splendid cruise on the Rhine from St.Goarshausen to Kaub, with beautiful scenery.
This was followed by sightseeing in Rüdesheim-am-Rhein, a most attractive tourist spot, in a beautiful setting on the river.
It includes Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a delightful gem containing many unusual and amusing, playable and mechanical musical instruments.
We then took the cable car up to the Niedewald Monument, a rather forbidding warlike statue. However, the views of the rhine valley were splendid.
15th we sang mass at the church of St.Cyriakus in Nieder-Mendig, and visited the splendid, well-preserved Burg Eltz Castle in the afternoon. The latter is packed with fascinating historical features, and stands in splendid scenery above the Moselle river.
16th In the morning, we experienced stunning views of a near-360° bend in the Rhine from the chair-lift at Boppard.
After lunch, we visited the old medieval town ofAndernach, with its "Runde Turm" (round tower).
17th On our final day in Germany, we did some extensive sightseeing in Koblenz, gave a concert in the Florinskirche, and ended with a meal Wirthaus Alt Coblenz restaurant.
18th We journeyed back home after yet another another splendid tour!
Read about our next tour