The Big Bande de Jazz de Contrexéville from France has recently completed a very successful visit to Llandrindod Wells. The Band comprised eighteen very talented musicians who were accompanied by twenty family members and friends for the cultural exchange visit organised by the twinning associations of Llandrindod Wells and Contrexéville.
The band, under the baton of their professional conductor Yannick Baci, performed a number of concerts in support of the Llandrindod’s Victorian Festival. In torrential rain they opened their visit with a performance on the Bandstand with “Stormy Weather” which was very well received by a large umbrella covered audience. A highlight of their visit was their performance at a Big Band Concert in the Pavilion with support from the Bosqua Cuban Latin Dance Band. The French band played for over two hours and drew dancers onto their feet from the start to finish. The band’s singer, Laura Kuster- Besnier, gave a very polished performance of dance band favourites, thrilling the audience with her performances and drawing a number of encores.
The band members were treated to the excellent hospitality at the Llanerch Inn, which they adopted as their headquarters for their stay and played an atmospheric outdoor performance. They also performed at a party night given by the Living Willow Theatre, Llanwrthwl where they were joined by Builth Wells Male Voice choir and other local bands with whom they made new contacts.
Days out included a visit to Elan Valley, the kite feeding station at Nant Yr Arian and Aberystwyth where the band played on the Seafront Bandstand entertaining a large audience of holiday makers.
The band members were overwhelmed at the hospitality given to them by the host families in Llandrindod. The exchange visit concluded with an evening party at Dolau Community Hall where entertainment from a local folk band enabled visitors and hosts to join together in ceilidh dancing. The visit proved a very positive vehicle to create friendship and understanding through the exchange of music and cultural experiences, and a number of the instrumentalists plan return visits to Llandrindod in the near future to consolidate the musical friendships they formed during their stay.