Mayo Concert Orchestra European Tour 2001

Mayo Youth Orchestra
Castlebar Concert and Marching Band


Trip highlights:

Time to go



National award-winning orchestra returns from third European tour

FOUR-TIMES national award-winning Mayo Concert and Youth Orchestra spent a week of the Easter holidays living and playing it up in the picturesque surrounds of Bavaria, Germany.

The trip, which took place between April 16 and 22, was a resounding success. The 50-member music group arranged the tour with the support and co-operation of Castlebar-Hoechstadt twinning organisation, as Castlebar was twinned with this German town last September.

The Welcome

The leader of the Hoechstadt orchestra, Georg Romer, and the chairperson of the Castlebar/Hoechstadt committee, Teresa Walsh Zaby, met the Castlebar group at the airport to ensure that all their needs were catered for as they travelled through the postcard-like scenery to reach their destination town.

The welcome was warmer than the weather and indeed hospitality like it could not have been surpassed. As we sat back on the bus we were served some local paté on bread and encouraged to try the local brew. It was a short road back to Hoechstadt! Once we reached the sleepy town we were welcomed by Tanja Wilm, of the host orchestra of Hoechstadt, really a brass band, of similar size to ours, and with the same obvious enthusiasm for music and craic.

The Rapport

There was an instant rapport with members of all ages and backgrounds. Language was no barrier. After more sampling of German beers we finally hit the sack and knew the week ahead would be the start of a beautiful friendship between the two groups. Tuesday morning dawned bright and clear. Our breakfast of bread, meats and cheese provided the energy needed to tour our newly-found twin town. Accompanied by our hosts we were given a very interesting tour of the town and were taken to see the local celebrated carp. Indeed the presentation on carp was one that can only be described as passionate and all-consuming. Carp fishing is a major industry in this part of Bavaria.

Our first practice session

That night was the first occasion when the two orchestras played together. Boy, what a sound! The practice began and ended with food and drink, but the practice was just the beginning of the night. The Irish and German cultures intertwined as the night progressed, each group taking turns to sing, dance, play, and we found many songs that were known to both groups. Long live Abba!

Visit to Nuremburg

Despite the short night's sleep we headed for the city of Nuremberg the following morning. This is a city steeped in history and is probably best known for the World War II trials held there. It was an absolute treat to walk through the cobbled streets as snowflakes tumbled from the sky.


That evening we were given a civic reception at the 'Kommenbrahaus' where gifts were exchanged by and on behalf of the two Urban Councils. A champagne reception followed and later we dined at a local restaurant where we were given the opportunity to taste all the local culinary delights.

Declan Hynes, Chairman Mayo Concert Orchestra, Deputy Burgermeister Rober Mirschberger, Teresa Walsh-Zaby Hoechstadt/Castlebar Committee, George Lee Musical Director, Mayo Concert Orchestra, George Romer, Hoechstadt Orchestra, Helmut Zaby At a civic reception for Mayo Concert Orchestra in Kommunbrauhaus, Hoechstadt.
The hospitality

The hospitality of our hosts went from strength to strength as the days passed. They knew no limits and we were all the picture of contentment. We played a short concert in the restaurant to work up an appetite and we once again finished up with both groups sharing renditions of various songs.


Thursday was another day of sightseeing, this time to Bamberg, with its multi-coloured pastel houses guarding the local river. The quaint tourist traps could not be resisted and many deutschmarks were spent on German fashion, beer tankards and the like. Another night of music ensued where we introduced our friends to hot whiskies in return for schnaps and beer. All in the name of culture, of course. Friday was the day of our biggest concert which was a resounding success. We played to a hall full of very appreciative listeners. They thoroughly enjoyed the selection of pieces played by the combined Irish/German orchestra.

Time to go home..

The days flew past and before we knew it, it was time to depart, leaving behind a town that was beginning to feel like our own, saying goodbye to friends we felt we knew forever. We departed in the hope that this twinning will go from strength to strength. We are indeed deeply indebted to all the people who made this experience so memorable. Music, the universal language, had served us well.

Mayo Concert Orchestra with Members of Hoechstadt Orchestra before returning home - Click to enlarge this image

Click to enlarge an image

The Town Arch boasts a banner welcoming the people of Castlebar

Mayo Concert Orchestra with Members of Hoechstadt Orchestra before returning home

At a civic reception in Kommunbrauhaus